Mark Marvelous

Mark Marvelous was that type of cat who would write out a recipe for napalm on the inside of a White Castle bag and sell it to a kid for five bucks laid out in quarters, knowing full well the only two things that would burn in that transaction were the greasy paper it was scribbled on and the money.

Known to haunt various filling stations from Taylor Boulevard to National Turnpike, the double-trouble on four wheels was legend incarnate long before he vanished into a fog of car exhaust and thunder leaf, leaving behind embellished tales of his fiery demise. All bullshit, of course, but Mark Marvelous inspired such talk. A living tall tale that has no place in contemporary society. The first time I met Mark Marvelous, at a filling station no less, he sauntered up behind me and in one swift move, grabbed me by the throat and screamed at the top of his lungs: “Twenty five pounds of pressure, boy, that’s all it takes for me to snap your neck!” He then quickly released me and delivered several hardy blows on my back, grinning like a gator, as he produced from his pocket a large handful of Hershey Kisses and began handing them out to me and my compadres — “Just boosted a hole bag of ‘em right underneath that dumb clerk’s nose!” In what felt like less than a nanosecond, I went from being terrified to intrigued by this robust maniac.

He had long been baptized in motor oil and had been through more fistfights than the infamous boxer Joe Grim. He was 26 and looked like a Roosevelt-era bodybuilder with the head of a manatee that had met the bad end of a boat propeller more times then he could recall. He’d been hit and been hitting since kindergarten roll call, day one. His duel ability to keep himself continuously wrapped in two tons of whatever American muscle he could resurrect into a barely street-legal racing machine of mayhem and to simply walk away unscathed from plowing said racing machine, head-on, into telephone poles made him known to every urchin who lived in South Central. And to know him was to know what it was like to have a box cutter pressed against your jugular at least twice.

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