“If life is about small things, don’t let those be victories. If you’ve figured this life out, Charlie, show us your hunger, not your contentment. Fuck your contentment.” -Raymond Griggs, 1989. Barclay, Brazil
Act I: Not My Brand
Hi. I’m Charlie Parker. Do you see the handsome fella, there in the red? That’s him–he’s me. Though if you knew me, you wouldn’t think it…
Now, zoom out–just a bit. See the man there dressed in yellow, over to my left? That’s my best friend Tommy Bilco. He’s having the time of his life right there–no big deal!
Alright, now, zoom out, all the way. All the way, until it stops, there–
The older guy, behind us, with the calm, cool demeanor and never-say-never impression–yeah, that guy–can’t miss him. That’s Raymond Griggs. And as for this photograph, well–but a glimpse of just one stretch in one day of what was, the wildest adventure either of us would ever know. But was this too for Griggs you ask? No, for Griggs, this was just another day in the life. That of which being, the life of a man on the run…
Tommy and I–we are sea monster hunters. And yes, you did hear that correctly–sea monster hunters. Indeed a real thing. And we’re not even lunatics–we are in fact both doctors, and sea monsters is just what happens to be what we do. In many ways it’s all we know.
Tommy and I traveled to Brazil, that unforgettable summer in 1989. We were chartered to be there on an expedition, to hunt for the most elusive river monster in the Amazon, the Golden Jericho, aka the Yani-Yani emerald dolphin. But don’t let its second name fool you, though, that dolphin is as much a monster of the sea as they come–albeit, a sea of fresh water! [chuckles, nasally]
See, Tommy and I, we knew how to get there–to where the Golden Jericho might ever be–but despite our possession of that knowledge however, it was only Raymond Griggs who could actually bring us there. Because, the Amazon river–it was simply too vast and, quite honestly much too dangerous, for either Tommy or myself to handle on our own; we had needed the tempered hand and guidance that may only come with one with true grit.
At the time neither Tommy nor myself knew terribly much about the man named Raymond Griggs; we had known of him only that he was the right man for the job–and of that we’d found in him, immediately. Griggs is a very certain kind of soul, you see, a soul with no casing. With every moment we’d spent with Griggs, adventure was amuck. Exhausting, incredibly so, was it exhausting, but the very fact this was his life, remains for us, difficult to understand.
Act II: Smoke on the Water
It was unusually quiet, for nightfall in the Amazon. Griggs sat by the water, relaxing, enjoying a smoke of his favorite brand: Barclay 1457s. Having completed a full day of labor on the river, working as a freelance ferryman, this was a rare moment of ease in what had remained for Griggs a frenetic lifestyle. Though it was honest work, respectable work–albeit illegal work, Griggs was determined to end his life on a chapter marked in atonement; Griggs had figured as much the change in profession would make for a good start. It was perhaps finally true, that with a lifetime of committing cold blooded murders in exchange for checks, the guilt of it had finally reached way to Raymond Griggs’ heart. Perhaps, though, there was more to this, though perhaps maybe there was not; but Griggs, in any case, was never known as a man inclined to faith. It would seem unlikely he’d found concern with the prospects of what was or was not in store for him next. Griggs did once famously say, while speaking on such matters:
“If there is a Satan, you can bet your money I’ll be the man to chase him back upstairs.”
Griggs had located to the Amazon, from Alaska, where, following the death of his former nemesis Martin Spanner, Griggs had found himself on the run: Martin Spanner’s father, Richard Spanner, was, at that time arguably the most powerful man in the underground realm of high stakes contract murder. Although Griggs himself murked more than a few noteworthy heads, through the long course of his active career, not once in that such time however, was Richard Spanner a name to evoke less fear. The reason for this was largely due to the immense fortune of Richard Spanner, a multi-millionaire, of which it was earned through in blood.
If this were not enough, Griggs was as well in a bad spot with Domena Caiman, Grigs’ longtime rival. Due to a business arrangement, in which–superseding the life of Richard Spanner’s son Martin–and to which, Griggs was less than truthful on specific details, as far as their respective shares, that was, Domena Caiman Griggs now believed was in hot pursuit to seek full revenge.
The remoteness of rural stretches of the Amazon river basin had made for but one of two reasons why Griggs fled the country to be there. That reason was in direct consequence to the two other men mentioned, but there was indeed more in Brazil at play, than perhaps its convenience for Griggs’ laying low.
“Barclay 1457s,” Griggs exhaled, as he watched the moonlight reflect on the purple river before him. Nodding, as he gazed out at the night, it had seemed satisfaction at long last was finding its way to Raymond Griggs.
The next morning Griggs awoke to the sound of knocks on his front door. It was Charlie and Tommy. At this point the two parties had yet to meet, or even speak. Griggs had no anticipation of visitors. Before one else might think to react however, Griggs was already up and standing by the door, edging from the shadows of the unlit room. “If it’s you, you’d too better be ready,” Griggs thought.
“Is this the property of Emanuel Silva,” asked one of the voices.
Emanuel Silva was the name of Griggs’ alias–only locals would know Griggs by this name, but the voice which requested, spoke in English, not Portuguese, and with an American accent. Whoever this was, Griggs thought, he knew it wasn’t Domena Caiman, and he knew it wasn’t Richard Spanner. But if Spanner were involved, Griggs knew, that he would not likely bring himself but would rather send a hired gun–Richard Spanner hadn’t carried out his own dirty work for many years. Griggs shrugged, “I’d bet he’d prefer that honor, for himself,” Griggs thought, perhaps trying to assure himself it were true, and he shrugged once more.
“It’s not locked, come inside,” he barked–shouting, to the extent it was needed. He cocked his magnum, pointing it low, outward from his side.
“Okay,” a pause, then “Sure thing, will do.” The door crept open. Meekly, two heads peared in past the door’s edge. Griggs sighed, exposing his slight but genuine relief, and recoiled his weapon without their notice. He stepped out of the shadows. The two men, Tommy and Richard, remained both partially hidden behind the half opened front door. It was hint enough for Griggs to tell, these two men were not worth his worry.
“Americans,” Griggs said, vigorously, “What a pleasant surprise, feels like it’s been ages–Boys, what can I do for you?”
To Be Continued
Raymond Griggs: Ready to Die