I’m living in Buffalo, going to art school. Arnie calls. He says, you ever been to New York? I tell him, not yet. He says I’m going tomorrow, do you want to go? I say sure. He picks me up and drives all night. We hit a few rest stops, and then on to the city. He says, well, here we are, Sultz. There’s a lot to see. He keeps driving around. I thought he had something to do here. He says, what do you want to do, Sultz? I say, I don’t know, maybe walk around, look at the Empire State Building, maybe take a picture. I tell him I borrowed a Brownie camera, but I need film. He gives me money for film and finds a parking space. I buy film and take a picture of the Empire State Building. We walk close by and have a thirty-five-cent plate of spaghetti and meatballs, and then he says, I got enough money for gas, and so we head back to Buffalo. He says, what do you think of New York, Sultz? I say, yeah, they have good spaghetti. He says, you ever been to Niagara Falls?
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I’m living in New York. Arnie calls from Buffalo. He says, do you want to go to Utah? I say, what’s up? He says the Defense Department needs uranium. I’m coming to New York to look at Geiger counters and other equipment. Are you interested? I say, yeah, I’m interested, but… He says, never mind the buts, I’ll explain it to you when I get there. Arnie arrives. He looks like an executive. He says, you got a suit coat? We go down to someplace in midtown, up to the tenth floor. Two guys are standing around looking like Arnie, business-like, smiles, good morning sir, and all that. Arnie says he would like to see their latest Geiger counter equipment. They talk, exchange information, and then we leave. We go downtown and pick up a big tent and some camping equipment. On the way he tells me about the jeep he’s going to pick up and how we’ll prospect on government-sanctioned property in Utah. I tell Arnie that I heard uranium was radioactive, and that the stuff can kill you. He says we’ll have special handling devices. I say, you mean gloves? He says, they’re not just ordinary gloves. I tell Arnie I like the idea about the open spaces, but the rest seems too complicated. Arnie says, if you think life is difficult, that’s what it’s going to be. There are simple ways of doing complicated things.
He explains the plan. We’ll drive a jeep across a vast area. I’ll do the driving, he says. Meanwhile you’ll have the Geiger counter on your lap. We’ll tie your door open so you can extend the counter over the ground. It’s like a grass trimmer. When the counter lights up and begins to tick, we’ll stop, carefully lift the uranium from its cavity, place it in a bucket in the back, and take off. Probably what we can lift, buddy, will make us rich for the rest of our lives.
Arnie leaves town. He’ll get back to me. His girlfriend tells him that if he goes west, she’s through with him. He must have told her the plan. He calls and says, let’s put the plan on hold for a while. It’s a winner, he says. Just give me a little time and I’ll get back to you.
A couple months later, Arnie is managing a ladies’ apparel shop. He calls me and says he’ll be in New York the next day, would I like to have dinner with him and Jascha Heifetz. I say, what are you talking about? He says, I got a meeting in the afternoon. I’ll pick you up at seven. We go to a fancy restaurant near Times Square. He introduces me to Jascha Heifetz. I didn’t know there were two of them. This one is in ladies’ apparel too. The dinner is great.