When is a fraud not a fraud?
Nothing new about my forthcoming nonfiction title until the holiday season is over and we're into the New Year. But I'm planning already for entering it in book contests (with caution, since some of them are frauds) and soliciting reviews from trusted sources (with caution, for some of them are frauds). Indeed, what is and what is not a fraud can be debated forever. Everybody wants an author's $$$, and if you see them all as self-serving frauds, you'll end up miserably alone, your books unknown, unreviewed, and unsold. So you get info from online sources (with caution, for ...) and take your chances.
For information about my published books, go to my Amazon Author Central page.
THE STRANGE STORY OF
NICKY LEROY BARNES
He swaggered on the streets with a look of bold command. The street kids watched in awe, envying his custom-made suits and shoes, his full-length leather coats, his designer sunglasses and flashy ties. Everything about him said money, power, success. When he drove about in his Mercedes-Benz or his Cadillac, there was often a beautiful woman beside him, and she was not his wife. He was said to be fabulously rich and to have Mafia connections.
Rumors held him responsible for the heroin pouring into Harlem, and even into the rest of New York State, and into Pennsylvania and Canada as well. His investments included gas stations, travel agencies, and apartment complexes. If a police surveillance team tried to follow him as he drove through the streets of Harlem, he led them on a merry chase and often shook them off. He was indeed the King of Harlem, but having beaten several charges, he was known by another name: Mr. Untouchable.
That cover, with the dapper, clean-shaven Barnes projecting a look of smug invulnerability, so angered President Jimmy Carter that he ordered his attorney general to "get" Barnes, and get him he did. Trial and conviction followed, with Barnes sentenced to life in prison without parole. Then, learning that his former associates were squandering his fortune, he testified against them, leading to 44 indictments and 16 convictions, one of them for an ex-wife. In return for his cooperation, Barnes got his prison sentence reduced to 35 years.
The post-prison Nicky Barnes was not the swaggerer of yore. Bald and limping, he wore baggy dungarees and drove to work in an unpretentious used car. As of 2007 he was working 44 hours a week in an undisclosed job in a middle-class white neighborhood in an undisclosed state, content in his anonymity and routinely taking home doggie bags from restaurants. And how was this known? Because in that year, 2007, he published a memoir, Mr. Untouchable, written with journalist Tom Folsom.
"Nicky Barnes's lifestyle and his value system is extinct," he said that year in an interview. "I left Nicky Barnes behind."
He didn’t want the memoir to glorify him. Being on a tight budget, he just wanted to make a few bucks.
The key lesson of Nicky Barnes's story: If you're up to your ears in crime, hunker down. The last thing you should want is to attract attention. The smart Mafia men know this; we rarely hear of them, don't even know their names.
Coming soon: Two possibilities:
- A world-famous explorer and scientist whom Jefferson and Goethe came to know, and who was hailed in New York by 25,000 people marching in the streets, and in Berlin and Moscow and Buenos Aires and Melbourne as well -- a man most of us today have never heard of.
- The world's most savage killer, responsible for the death of Alexander the Great, the Visigothic king Alaric, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Byron, and some 52 billion other humans over time.
© Clifford Browder 2019