"Copyright © 2014 Benjamin DeHaven
I grew up with the disillusionment shared by many fortunate American children: I thought my parents’ life was easy and the lessons they offered empty. But the advantages I had, which I later minimalized in my memories, softened the realities of a harsh world and for a time crusted over any empathy I might have had.
My inability to accept the gifts I was surrounded with fueled my longings for excitement. And in my proclivity toward anything dangerous, I reveled in deceit and traded in lies. Rather than gazing in reverence at the people who were down in the dirt building their own legacies, I set out into the world with a chip on my shoulder and a desire to steal back a future that was never mine. It was because of this anger I was immediately drawn to Michael Enzo, and I will forever be haunted by the actions that have brought us to this point.
Alone, wandering in Chicago one night, I gradually realized I was in a foreign part of the city. Or was it the place that I called home? White cloud smoke drifted past buildings as I quarreled with my racing mind. I saw the world as one sick theater run by a junked-out projectionist switching reels to confuse the audience. I was haunted by false promises and dreams of Oscar speeches already written. I had fallen.
I had sought others’ advice to teach myself perceived right from wrong, and once I realized I was ill prepared to co-exist with the world, I sought out therapists and self-help books. Anyone who would listen or offer advice, anyone who was foolish enough to accept a drink to suffer through a bad beat story, was instantly my savior. I was consistently faltering on the path of righteousness while I attempted to learn the truth behind my own guilt: a self-imposed affliction only I had the power to forgive or escape.
It was in this desperation that Michael Enzo found me.
He was dressed in a Johnnie Walker red T-shirt, faded cowboy boots, and a Houston Oilers cap, stumbling around Cabrini-Green in Chicago. He was not lost. In fact he seemed purposeful as he strolled through the ghetto, and he exuded an air of confidence even dressed like a fool in the winter. After a brief meeting on the street, this stranger persuaded me to have a drink at the Dragon Room and we walked into hip-hop night together. Before I knew what happened we were in the VIP section and the manager, Arturo, was pulling a bouncer off Enzo as he urinated through the balcony railing into the crowd. He had rifled through $6000 worth of champagne while sending club dancers to “cheer” me up. Who was this person?
In the muffled tones of the music he explained he was a writer and entrepreneur. He wrote books on behalf of celebrities, politicians, and other writers. After another altercation with the bouncer during which Enzo had forced the DJ to play a Waylon Jennings song, he continued on to tell me the secret to his success was that no one knew who he was and that on the rare occasions when he had wasted his money and needed more, he would publish books without the celebrities’ permission, consent, or knowledge.
I awoke in a taxi hours later and when I got to my apartment I discovered a business card and $1000 in my pocket. It would be another two years before I saw Enzo again, and by then he was being hunted by Greek organized crime in Chicago, a fact I was unaware of for almost twenty years until the FBI arrived at my home in 2012.
But prior to that, a strange friendship developed—a love-hate affair that included me attending his first wedding to an adult film star, me being sued by the IRS in connection with bankrupting a newspaper in New Orleans, a tryst with a television host, a guest spot on Oprah, a freezer full of cash, and a devastating hurricane.
Throughout our relationship, which has now spanned twenty years, Enzo constantly pushed me to think outside myself. Whenever I lost my way he seemed to appear. He was not a miracle worker, but he always helped me see the world had bigger concerns than my desires. He taught me to engage in the world around me rather than escape from it and he explained things from a lofty perch, from a perspective that seemed foreign and intriguing to me.
Because of his friendship and the opportunities it gave me, I gained the honor of being able to help people other than myself.—although, on one of these occasions, Enzo was in charge of raising money for my organization, and, while I built wheelchair-accessible picnic tables for retirement communities in the unprivileged, passed-over neighborhoods of America, he siphoned the cash and was gone.
Had it not been for Enzo, I would never have known the joy of helping other people who were less fortunate than I, instead of doing nothing and blaming my condition on some outside force over which I had no control. But because I am sure at this time that he is a liar, a thief, and the protagonist of my weak demise I will expose him, despite what he might have accidently guided me toward. For although my involvement with him might have yielded some benevolent results, his intentions were always malicious.
Unfortunately, because of a pending legal appeal I cannot disclose much of what’s happened since 2006. But what I can do is publish what his wife Susan gave me. And that is a personal journal he wrote, apparently while trying to determine whether or not travel back to New Orleans and scam another group of investors, including me.
When I met his wife it was clear there was more substance to her than Enzo’s former mistresses and I finally found love. But our relationship was built on our mutual connection with Enzo, nothing more—the fact that she and I shared in a story that no one else would believe. And once Enzo appeared again, Susan was lost to me once more. Sometimes the smallest spark is all it takes, and Enzo was a master of sparks.
It was in my desperation and loneliness that I finally discovered my chargé de mission and knew what had to be done.
I would destroy Michael Enzo by whatever means possible.
"It is not only the leader of men, statesman, philosopher, or poet, that owes this bounden duty to mankind. Every rustic who delivers in the village alehouse his slow, infrequent sentences, may help to kill or keep alive the fatal superstitions which clog his race. Every hard-worked wife of an artisan may transmit to her children beliefs which shall knit society together, or rend it in pieces. No simplicity of mind, no obscurity of station, can escape the universal duty of questioning all that we believe." —W. K. Clifford, “The Ethics of Belief”
About Benjamin W. Dehaven
A Graduate of Columbia College in Chicago, Benjamin DeHaven keeps his heart in Chicago and his soul in New Orleans. He holds a MBA from Tulane and a film degree from Columbia. Once ejected from a community college for arguing Frost cried out for acceptance in Birches, he has since written screenplays, traded futures in Madrid, and was Editor in Chief of the Nola Shopper Newspaper, a free art newspaper and the 2nd largest monthly paper in the New Orleans, MSA. . He also has a "shout out" in a Jay "Z" Song.
DeHaven, who currently resides in Las Vegas began his writing career with Stone United, a Chicago based Film Company, which works primarily in independent film. As an unknown fiction writer, he feels the best description of himself, is a sarcastic one and is as follows:
Benjamin W. DeHaven was born on a pool table after a Waylon Jennings' concert in 1977. His personal success is outweighed only by his stunning good looks and adherence to unwritten moral guidelines. He has been described as a thinking man's Tucker Max as well as an idiot's Hunter S. Thompson. His goal is to die from an unwavering commitment to be more like Hemingway.
He and Michael Enzo were friends.