Sometimes the great tabloid gods drop one right in your lap, and that's what happened the day Hercules came into my life.
Not the Greek god from Mount Olympus -- the Greek Greenwich Village grocer who found fame and fortune one fine day in 1986.
Well, not exactly "fortune," but I'll get to that.
The actress Glenn Close had dropped into his shop to buy a bag of popcorn. After she was gone, Hercules Dimitratos saw that she'd left behind a movie script she'd been carrying.
He found a phone number in the script, called the studio and told them what had happened. A clever publicist got Glenn Close to return to Hercules' shop for a photo op with the grinning grocer. He gave her the script, they gave him a hundred dollar reward, and everybody was happy.
Of course the story wrote itself: "Hercules came to the rescue of Glenn Close yesterday! No, that's not the plot of her latest movie, it's a real-life drama that played out in a Greenwich Village grocery store..."
Fast-forward, one year later. By this time the film script Glenn Close was carrying had made it to the silver screen. A little movie called Fatal Attraction, which would go on to gross more than $300 million worldwide.
My phone rings at work.
"Hello, Meester Cah-ree-low! Thees ees Hercules. You remember me?"
Of course I remembered him. "How are you, man?"
"Well, you remember they gave me a hundred dollars for the screept?"
"Sure I do. That was nice of them."
A hesitation. "Well," he said, "the feelm has made meel-ions!"
I burst out laughing. I couldn't help it. "What do you want, points?!" I asked.
He seemed to believe the movie might never have been made if he hadn't returned Glenn Close's script. I explained that her copy of the script was not the only one, that it was precious to her because she'd written personal notes all over it, that they gave him the hundred bucks as a token of their appreciation.
Hercules took it all in. Then he sighed and said, "Ahh, you never get nothin' from the rich," and down went the phone.
He must have liked the story I wrote, though, because he preserved it in plastic and hung it in the window of his shop, where it went yellow with the years.
It was always fun to drop in and say hello to Hercules, a sweetheart of a guy who was as much a part of the neighborhood as the arch in Washington Square Park.
Until now. The only thing left of Hercules Fancy Grocery is the awning. The shop has been gutted, and awaits a new tenant.
I saw Hercules during the dying days of his shop. We had a laugh over the Glenn Close story. He was sorry to be packing up after forty years, but what could he do? In mythology, the super-strong Hercules could handle any challenge, defeat any foe.
In real life, all they had to do was raise his rent.
Suddenly, something he said to me all those years ago rings truer than ever. You never get nothin' from the rich.
Charlie Carillo's first two published novels, Shepherd Avenue and My Ride With Gus are now available on Amazon Kindle. His website is www.charliecarillo.com. He's a producer for the TV show Inside Edition.
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