The author of this short story is an old college buddy of mine and he has given me his permission to make it available for free on this site "as a public service." He also has it posted in a couple other places on the internet. Although "TRUMP at Fordham!" is for sale on Kindle at 99 cents, Joe admits that he has had zero sales. Even so, it's not badly written, hilarious in places, and sounds like the Trump the world has come to know over the past couple of years. It is, of course, fiction and should not be confused with the deliberately manufactured "fake news" which has become an epidemic in recent months. Just a warning: the language is a little rougher than I have used on this site.
This is absolutely a work of fiction. I can attest that I never met Donald J. Trump at Fordham University and know nothing about his various activities during the years depicted in this work. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of this author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright 2016, all rights reserved
Now that he’s president, people have a million questions about what Trump was like when I knew him, probably because he never talks about that part of his life. He talks all the time about the military school and how great he did at Wharton but not even a tweet about the two years he spent at Fordham University.
Let’s start by turning the clock back to fifty two years ago. I still have very vivid memories of those first days away from home, even of the September weather which was beautiful, cool and crisp. Coming from a small upstate town, everything about being at a big city college was so exciting for me that those days are clearer in my mind than some things that happened yesterday. I still can repeat almost word-for-word conversations I had with guys in the dorm, some of whom I am still friends with after all these years. Trump, I should tell you straight out, was not what either of us would have called a close friend but we definitely knew each other and we got along okay. The thing is that he was in the business school and I was in liberal arts so we didn’t have classes together, except once or twice. Plus, he commuted every day from his parents’ house in Queens.
I wouldn’t have met Don, as he introduced himself, if I hadn’t let my father pressure me into joining the Army ROTC. My older brother had such a hard time after being drafted that the one thing my Dad insisted on was that I should be an officer. So I sign up for ROTC when I register in the gym for all my other classes and a couple days later I go to the first “formation” and discover the whole deal sucks. Upper class guys who think they’re in West Point line us up on Edwards Field and begin yelling about what slobs and maggots we were. They make us march around and have a good yuk as we stumble every which way. Here I am thinking what an asshole I must look like to the Thomas More girls who are passing by in plaid skirts and with their arms full of books.
I first noticed Trump at the second formation when we were all wearing surplus WW II uniforms and doing the right-face, left-face routine. How could I not notice him? The student captain, who later got his legs blown off in Nam, was chewing me out for the state of my shoes and brass buttons. “Did you shit on these buttons, Kelly?” he yells in my face, complete with a serious case of halitosis. “No sir, sir!” I blurt like I got no balls whatsoever and he asks am I fucking with him and I say no sir, sir no etc.
But when the little jerk, Donnelly I think his name was, gets to this big guy down the line from me, he does a complete 180. He tells the guy to step forward six paces, about-face about-face until he is facing us. “This man is what a soldier should look like, you maggots! Observe the brass. Observe the shoes. See how they shine?” I nod like a schmuck, as do the other schmucks to my right and left.
Then Donnelly calls out the whole manual of arms and the big guy goes through all the moves like he was a perfect robot soldier, forward march, attention, at ease etc. Donnelly decides to criticize one thing, I think it was how his shirt fit into his pants, and the big guy gets this frown which will be familiar to anyone who has seen Trump on The Apprentice or running for president. He looks like he’s about to take the little captain's head off and the guy backs off and begins berating somebody else. I didn’t catch Trump’s name at that point and I wasn’t sure what to make of him.
Then, as it happened, I got a chance to talk to the big guy. The food on the campus was so blah I was heading for a roast beef hero at Willie’s Deli on Webster when he caught up to me and said hey. Hey, I said back. “Joe Kelly.” “Don Trump,” he answered and we shook hands.
“That Donnelly’s a real douchebag,” he offered.
“Yeah I guess so.” A train went rattling by on the Third Avenue El, forcing us to wait a couple minutes before saying anything else. “He seems to think you’re hot shit, though.”
“Fuck him. I know more about the military than he could learn if he lives to be a hundred.”
And that’s when I first heard about the military school where his parents sent him because he was “an incorrigible punk but smart as a whip.”
“Yeah,” he explained. “I like to fight, ya know what I mean? When I was in second grade, I gave my teacher a black eye.”
“You’re a real bullshit artist,” I told him.
He seemed offended. “But it’s some fucking story, isn’t it?”
I told him I was going to Willy’s where they made good sandwiches and he was about to join me when the driver of a big black Caddy beeped the horn. “Hey, gotta go.” He turned toward the car as the driver jumped out and opened the door for him.
“What this?” I said, “You going to a fucking prom or something?”
“Nah, just Daddy’s car.” And then he was gone.
For ROTC we had to do the marching thing once a week and also attend a no-credit class called “Military Science” taught by a regular army guy, Sergeant something or other. A lifer, as he proudly told us the first day. “It’s a great career. In two years I retire on full pension and spend the rest of my days fishing down in Port St. Lucie.” Only it didn’t work out that way for him. Never came back from Viet Nam. His own men with a grenade, if you can believe it.
I noticed Don Trump in the front row, answering every question by jumping to his feet and snapping to attention. “Yes sir, no sir, that’s right sir, that’s the way we did it at the New York Military Academy where I was cadet captain of the corps and captain of the baseball team, the best in the state, sir.” I still didn’t know what to think, whether he was a major ass-kisser or fucking with the guy.
After Military Science, Don and I were heading in the same direction toward Keating Hall. “What a pathetic loser that Sergeant Douchebag is, huh?”
“He seems decent enough.” I wasn’t that crazy about running down a guy who reminded me of my Dad and his VFW pals. “Why do you say he’s pathetic?”
“Just look at that sack of shit. He’s a real loser. Forty fucking years old and still a sergeant. If I went in the military, I’d make major by twenty four or I’d shoot myself.”
When I didn’t answer, he told me he had turned down an appointment to West Point. “My father had it all set up for me with Senator Keating but I told him no way was I going for a military career.”
“Then why are you in ROTC?”
“No fucking idea except it’ll be an easy A with what I know already.”
“Yeah, but you don’t get any credits for Military Science.”
“No shit? I’ll just drop it then.”
“How about the Draft? If you don’t take ROTC, you have to go in as a private and get pushed around.”
“The Draft?” he laughed. “That’s for losers, believe me. My father has a doc who can fix it up so even Superman would get a 4-F.”
Don wasn’t at formation later that week so I figured he had quit rot-cee, as we used to call it. I was still trying to think of a way to tell my Dad that I was going to do the same when I ran into Trump in the Campus Center cafeteria. He was sitting by himself shoveling down macaroni and cheese like it was going out of style. I took my tray over to his table and sat down. “Hey man.” He looked up and saw my uniform. “I see you’re still into the GI Joe shit.”
“Yeah.” I opened a carton of milk and stuck in a straw.
“You look like a dick.” He wiped his mouth with a couple of paper napkins and threw them on the floor. “You shoulda seen the uniforms we had at NYMA. They were sharp, believe me. Not those shitty John Wayne leftovers you’re wearing.”
“What else is new?” I asked, sorry I had joined him.
“Same old shit.” He had lost whatever interest he had in our conversation and was looking around the cafeteria with a smirk, as if everybody there was a dick. Then out of nowhere I saw another side of him, Don the hero you could say.
I was vaguely aware of a group of jocks at the next table, giggling away as if they were telling each other dirty jokes. I wasn’t really paying attention as one of the less attractive Thomas More girls, a chubby little redhead, was passing by, trying to balance a stack of books and a tray of food.
“Oink! Oink!” I heard from the next table. And then she dropped the tray with a huge clatter that made everybody in the cafeteria look up. Don was on his feet in a split second and had pulled one of those guys right out of his chair.
“Apologize to the lady, you sorry sack of shit!”
Don had the guy by the throat as he was desperately twisting away to see if his pals were rushing to his aid. They weren’t.
“You want to take it outside?” Don loudly challenged the three of them, all pretty big guys, jocks like I said. People at other tables were watching the whole show.
“Joe,” he said to me, pushing the guy away from him in disgust. “Help out the little lady with her books, will ya?”
And actually I did, kind of wishing I had thought of the idea myself seeing that the poor girl was crying and looked like she was so embarrassed she could die. I brushed the food off her books and handed them to her and she ran straight out of the cafeteria. What I remember most clearly was the three jocks muttering about how they wished they could kick Trump’s ass, only they couldn’t because they’d lose their scholarships.
By then Don had left and I was left standing there, fairly amazed at how he had jumped to the girl’s defense. People around me were asking who was that guy, like he was the Lone Ranger. Now as I look back, I wonder if it wasn’t more about him wanting to take on those supposedly tough guys than the fact that they were making fun of a girl who, as Trump might have said years later to Howard Stern, wasn’t anywhere near a ten.
The next time I ran into Don Trump was on the D train. It was a Friday night and I was heading down to Manhattan where my French teacher, Prof Marzi, had set up free tickets for the class to see a weird Catholic play about the Virgin Mary when she was a kid. I was pretty impressed by Marzi at that point in my life, the way he jabbered on about Paris, cigarette ashes falling all down his vest. Anyway, I was just sitting there on the train, reading a dual language copy of Baudelaire.
“Ya keep your nose in a book like that and some spic is gonna mug ya before know what’s hit ya.”
I looked up and there was Don, holding onto one of the straps while the D-Train rocked around the 149th Street curve. “I never sit down in these shitty trains, believe me.” He looked around the car. “Ya gotta stay alert.”
“Yeah.” After a while, I asked him why he wasn’t taking his father’s limo.
“Oh that? Sure, the Caddy really impresses the broads, believe me. I had this little piece of ass the other day like you wouldn’t believe. She was fucking amazing. Gave me a blow job right in the car.”
“Your driver must have been impressed,” I said but sarcasm was lost on that guy.
“Who, him? He’s one of the good niggers, like family to us.”
“So why are you on the train?” I persisted. “Slumming?”
“Slums? Yeah sure. We must be going under Harlem right now. They live like animals.”
I was a little worried that some of the many Black and Puerto Rican people on the subway car would hear him, loud as he was, and start some trouble. But maybe the suit he was wearing made them think he was a cop. Back in ‘64 nobody at Fordham looked like a hippie – that came a couple years later – but Don Trump was one of the few guys always in a first class suit and freshly pressed shirt. Compared to him, most of us looked like high school kids.
“I gave old Rufus a few hours off and told him to pick me up later down in the Village. That way he gets to have his knob waxed and owes me one, if you know what I mean. One hand washes the other.”
“You mean that way he doesn’t tell your father anything you don’t want him to know.”
“You got it, man!” For some reason he wanted to slap me five on that one, which required me to switch the Baudelaire to my other hand. “Hey, ya oughta come with me. My treat if ya don’t have the dough.”
He lowered his voice slightly. “Only the classiest whore house on the east coast, man. You should see these amazing broads! They’ll do anything ya want, sixty-nine, around the world...”
“Aren’t you worried about getting a disease?”
“The clap? Are you fuckin kidding? These broads are clean as a whistle, every one of ‘em. They get checked out by a doc after every single customer.”
I passed on his offer. Don told me not to be a pussy my whole life and I didn’t see him for months. If I gave any thought to him at all, I figured he must have dropped out. And by the way, I dropped the ROTC bullshit the easy way. I just stopped going and didn’t bother to tell my father anything.
Then in the Spring term I was in English class with Prof. Memmo. He was a stickler for calling the roll every day, a real time killer. Most profs just passed around a sign-in sheet. Memmo was droning away and I was dozing off. “Mr. Kelly?”
“Oh yeah.” I woke up. He frowned and continued calling names until he came to “Mr. Trump.” “Welcome to the university, Mr. Trump.”
I hear some guy say “Huh?” I turn around and it’s not the Don Trump I know. Just some fat kid who I happen to know was in the Pharmacy School. “Oh yeah,” the kid says. “Present, sir.”
“I say welcome to the university, Mr. Trump, because I see that you are in our business school. You will find that this class will not be as watered down as you are used to.”
“Uh yeah,” the guy said. “I mean yes sir.”
After class, I followed the guy out toward Dealy Hall. “Hey,” I said, catching up to him. “What’s with the impersonation?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, pretending you’re Don Trump. What’s the deal?”
The guy gets this look of utter panic. “Shh!” he says and I swear he brings his finger up to his lips. “You can’t say anything.”
“No, of course not.” I tell him, figuring out pretty quickly what’s going on. “He’s paying you to take the class for him, right?”
“But you can’t say anything!” the guy was pleading, practically begging me. I was ready for him to drop to his knees. “I can split it with you! I can give you half!”
Just out of curiosity I asked him much he had been paid and he said a hundred bucks. “Forget about it, man,” I said to the guy. “I don’t want any money. And I won’t turn you in.”
It wasn’t that comfortable for me in English class that Spring on account of how the Trump impersonator kept looking nervously over in my direction. I tried to make small talk with him, just to put him at ease. I asked him his name which was Vinnie but he wouldn’t give me a last name. Talking to him at all began to feel like conducting an interrogation which did not exactly reassure the poor bastard. He even started to tell me about his widowed mom, for Christ’s sake. Anyway, I learned that Don had set up a whole network of Pharmacy students who were good in particular subjects. They attended all his classes, took all his tests and wrote any papers that were assigned. “Don expects all A’s or there’ll be trouble,” was the way Vinnie put it.
“He didn’t say.” The guy was practically melting with sweat as he told me this. “But people say he’s a connected guy.”
“Yeah. You know,” he whispered. “To the mafia.”
I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. “Fuck,” I said to Vinnie. “Don isn’t even Italian.”
“Well, he may not be Italian but I am, and I know what those guys are capable of.”
I laughed again.
“If you were smart, you’d stop asking all these questions about him.”
“Oh yeah?” I shook my head at disbelief at what a sucker this kid was. I mean, I was on the naive side myself but this guy Vinnie was incredible.”Do me a favor and say hello to Trump when you see him.”
After that, the Trump impersonator wouldn’t talk to me at all no matter how hard I tried to get him to say something. Another pharmacy guy, a real bruiser, started escorting him to and from English class, giving me what I guess he thought were threatening looks. Just before the term ended in May, Vinnie stopped showing up to class.
That summer my parents expected me to come back home and get my usual job at the swimming pool but I had to disappoint them. My hick town was just not the place I wanted to be any more. Instead, I hung out with some guys who had their own apartment over on Arthur Avenue. One of them, Nagle, got me a short-time job with this outfit that picked up trunks for rich kids and delivered them to various fancy summer camps upstate. I was a warehouse worker and helper on the trucks, not exactly prestige jobs, but it paid much better than I was used to, and all in cash. After a day picking up trunks in Jersey or Long Island and unloading them at a warehouse in Queens, Nagle and I would usually go for some beers. But that particular day he hadn’t showed to work, hung-over probably, so I was heading for the Q-44 bus stop when I hear someone yell out. “Hey, Kelly, what the fuck you doing in Queens?”
And there was Don Trump at the wheel of a bright blue Camaro convertible. “Hop in, ya sorry sack of shit and I’ll show you what a real car can do.” I walked over to where he had stopped for a red light. It changed to green and the people backed up behind him began to hit their horns. He gave them the finger and we roared off.
“So what’s with paying guys to go to class for you? How’d that go?”
“So ya figured that one out?” he grinned, squealing around a corner as old ladies jumped out of his way. “Probably ratted me out to the Dean too, huh?”
“No, it wasn’t me but I guess somebody else did?”
“Yeah, and they’re gonna feel some major pain when I find out who it was.” He gave it the gas and I looked over at the speedometer. We were doing ninety down Northern Boulevard. “Seriously, I know it wasn’t you.”
“Glad to hear it.”
“Yeah, I’m an expert on body language and I could tell it wasn’t you as soon as you opened your mouth.”
“Sure, there’s always tells, you know, like in poker. Little twitches that show when you’re lying and I could see right off that you were telling me the truth. The fact is I’m very good at reading people.”
“Good for you,” I told him. “It must be a useful skill to have.”
“You bet your ass it is!” He slowed the Camaro as a cop came up behind us. “Fuckin losers,” he muttered. “Anyway, yeah, for me reading people is my best trait. It’s why I’m gonna be an amazing success in business. My dad made millions but I’m gonna make billions, believe me.”
“I guess you don’t need a college degree to succeed in business.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean it doesn’t matter about you getting kicked out of Fordham if you’re gonna be an amazing businessman.”
“Kicked out? Where’d ya get that idea?” he frowned and took off again now that the cop car was gone.
“Well, I figured if the Jebbies caught you having other guys go to class for you...”
“No, those Jesuits were happy just to get some serious money but I can tell you my Dad was pissed, big-league.”
“The Jebbies let you off? Hard to believe.”
“It cost my old man plenty. If you see a new wing on the library, it better have his name on it, that’s all I have to say.”
“How about those Pharmacy guys?”
“What?” We had pulled up in front of an apartment building somewhere in Jackson Heights. “What guys?”
“The ones you paid to take your classes?”
“Those losers? I don’t know. I think they were expelled. Who gives a shit?”
I followed Don Trump out of the car and up the steps of a run down walk-up. I have to admit I was fascinated by the guy. I had never met anyone like him. “Why are we here?” I asked him.
“Collecting rents from deadbeats. That’s the penance my father gave me. That’s what you Catholics call it, right? Penance?”
“You’re not a Catholic? I thought everybody at Fordham was a Catholic? What are you?”
“I don’t know, Episcopalian or some shit.” He was pounding at a door on the second floor.
“Horowitz! I know you’re in there. Open the fucking door!”
Turning to me, he said in a lower voice. “I can’t believe this guy is a Jew and claims he can’t pay his rent. Those people always have plenty of money. They got a nose for it.”
Finally the door creaked open, and a frail elderly woman in a bathrobe looked up at us, first at him and then at me, shaking her head.
“Where’s Horowitz?” Don demanded.
“I am Horowitz,” the old lady answered in a heavy accent.
“But you’re a woman?” He looked to me, holding out his hands as if to say who can make sense of these fucking people.
“As you see.”
He pulled a paper from his pocket and looked at it. “Batya Horowitz,” he read. “Who could tell Batya was a woman’s name?”
The old woman stared at him. “So?”
“So ya gotta pay your rent or you gonna get evicted,” he began to shout as if she were deaf. “You understand me?” He made the fingers-rubbing gesture for money. “Ya gotta pay. Three months behind in the rent. You pay now or you get kicked out, you got it?”
Batya Horowitz was starting to close the door when Don put his foot out to block it. “You pay now, you understand? You got money?”
As he turned to shrug at me, Mrs. Horowitz saw her opportunity and slammed the door shut. He pounded on it like a crazy man. When it stayed closed, he took another paper out of one pocket and a stapler out of the other and proceeded to staple an eviction notice on the door. “This makes it official,” he explained to me. “It’s like a city marshal did it.”
“But you just did it yourself, didn’t you?” I was more and more amazed by the way this guy operated.
“Yeah, but marshals charge a fee which my Dad says is like flushing money down the toilet. I mean, do you need some kind of expert to staple up a piece of paper? Fuck!” He had driven a staple into his finger and started cursing like a maniac. “Here Kelly. You finish stapling it up,” he said, putting his wounded finger in his mouth.
Don tried the same act at a couple other apartments in the building and managed to extract cash from one frightened tenant. He stashed the bills in his shirt. “I can’t believe the old schmuck didn’t even ask for a receipt.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, if he’d asked for a receipt, I’d probably give the cash to my Dad but since he didn’t, it’s a couple bucks for me.”
“But what if your father finds out? Won’t he be pissed?”
“Are you kidding? He does the same thing with schmucks who pay their rent in cash and don’t ask for receipts. What fucking idiots people are!”
My head was practically spinning as I followed Don from one apartment building to another. He collected about an equal amount of cash versus the checks or money orders he’d have to hand over to his Dad. Most of the people who were behind in their rent gave him nothing because, I assume, they had nothing to give.
After a few hours of this, he happened to glance my way and noticed I was wearing pretty shabby clothes. “What are you doing out here in Queens anyway? Panhandling?””
I told him about the warehouse job, the deal with the camp trunks. “That is definitely one big-league nigger job you got yourself, Kelly. Stick with me and I’ll see if I can get you a job fit for a white man.”
And that’s how I ended up going to dinner with the Trump family in Jamaica Estates.
Don’s mother seemed like a nice lady and spoke with a slight Scottish burr. His father Fred sported a toothbrush mustache that made him look like Tom Dewey, the guy who thought he beat Truman in ‘48. Don had two older sisters who didn’t say a word to me. They were all dressed nicely. Don had one of his usual suits on, as did the old man, and the girls wore the kind of summer dresses I expected rich girls to wear. I, on the other hand, looked like a bum in my work clothes and probably smelled bad, too.
When the old man talked, which was most of the time, they all listened. I was struck by how quiet Don became around his Dad, and how he followed every word out of the man’s mouth.
“This is Joe Kelly.” Don didn’t introduce me until the dinner plates were being cleared away by the maid. “He goes to Fordham with me.”
The old man fixed me with a look that could kill. “What does he want? More money?”
“No, he’s not one of those guys.” Don’s face, which was ordinarily very pale, went bright red with embarrassment. “Kelly’s a real working stiff. A stand up guy. I thought maybe we could get him a ...”
“What is he? A mick?”
A mick? Did anybody still call the Irish micks in 1965? The old man was moving on to another topic, actually a variation of the same topic, which was how much money he made that day. To his credit, Don persisted in trying to help me out. “I thought we could get Joe a summer job,” he actually interrupted his father. “He has one now but it’s a real nigger job. Maybe Salerno can put him on that construction job in Astoria.”
“Which one is that?”
“The one where the ginzos are gutting that building off Steinway.”
“Oh yeah. Sure. See if he needs anybody.” The father reached for a toothpick. Then he just stared at Don, so long that it seemed very odd to me. My buddy practically melted under that paternal glare but neither of them would say a word. His mom and sisters had chatted all through this, so apparently the war of wills, or whatever it was, was not unusual.
“What?” Don finally said, red-faced again. The old man just kept glaring at him. Finally Don went into his jacket pocket and pulled out a sheaf of checks and money orders and handed them to his father.
“No cash?” His father stuck the rents in his own pocket.
“Good.” And then he turned to face me, for the first time really. “Don’s on probation this summer to see if he’s good enough, which I tend to doubt. What do you think, Murphy?”
“It’s Kelly, sir. And what do I think about what?”
He turned back toward Don and spoke as if he were talking to me but he never took his eyes off his son. “You see, Murphy, my son is going to work all summer collecting rents and I am not paying him one cent. Do you know why?”
“No, sir,” I answered although what I understood him to be saying was that he expected his son to rip off cash from tenants who didn’t ask for receipts.
“It’s because he needs to grow up and learn how deals are done, how money is made. He tried to organize his own little racket at Fordham, as I’m sure you know. It blew up in his face and I had to bail him out. That’s not going to happen again.”
“Impressive, isn’t he?” Don said as we were made our way out to the Camaro.
“Yeah, I guess so.”
“He taught me everything I know.”
Don dropped me at the subway and sped off to Manhattan where he was “gonna meet a real piece of ass.” He asked me if I wanted sloppy seconds and I told him to go fuck himself.
True to his promise, though, Don got me a job ripping out walls in a small apartment building in Astoria. It wasn’t much worse than my previous gig and the trip back to the Bronx was shorter. I didn’t see Don again until late August when he came by the job, once again in his Camaro convertible which now had a badly dented front fender. “I see somebody hit you,” I commented, getting into the car.
“Some spic. Of course he had no insurance.”
“So, what’d you do, call a cop?”
“Call the cops? That’s what losers do. I called my Dad’s lawyer so we could sue the little bastard. Turns out he has no insurance but owns two houses in Mount Vernon. Too bad he's gonna have to sell both of ‘em to pay my doctor’s bills.”
“What doctor’s bills? You look all right to me.”
“Not according to my Dad’s doctor,” he frowned. “Turns out I’m almost crippled for life.”
We headed over the Triboro and up the Major Deegan to Fordham Road. Don said he wanted to meet some guys at the Killarney Rose to start up a new business. “What kind of business?” I asked but he was all mysterious about it. Three upperclassmen were waiting for us at the bar. I was surprised that they all looked like the scholarly type, not exactly the kind of guys Don would want to hang out with.
We took a back booth and everybody except Don got a beer. He took a Coke, explaining that he never drank because he was a confirmed alcoholic and couldn’t trust himself with even one taste of booze or he’d go off his head and probably kill someone. None of that was true but it was true that he never drank or smoked, unlike just about everybody else at Fordham.
“What’s he here for?” a skinny guy in glasses asked, indicating me.
“Kelly’s the go-between. Once this deal is set up, he is the guy who will do the exchanges. You guys don’t need to worry because you will never see the customers. They won’t have any idea of who you are so if one of the profs gets suspicious, the whole weight falls on the asshole who hands in the paper.”
“How will the money angle be handled?” asked the second guy who I think was pre-med.
“All cash, which you will get from Kelly. No one will be able to trace the paper back to you.”
It was pretty obvious to me what this was, and I had no intention of getting involved. I was amazed by the balls Don had. First, to come up with the scheme of buying and selling term papers and second, that he built the whole thing around me as the bagman without even asking if I’d go along.
The third guy seemed the most doubtful and asked the most questions. A set fee based on the length of a paper was not acceptable to him since a heavily researched physics paper ought to be worth a lot more than a few pages about airy-fairy poetry for a gay English prof. “Another factor,” he argued, “is that a lot of the students who are desperate for a paper will not contact you until almost the day it is due. Anything requiring last minute expedited work has to cost more.”
“These are just technical details we can iron out later” was Don’s point. He explained that he just needed to know they were on board and then “all the wrinkles will be ironed out.”
“So, can I count you guys in?” he looked around the table while the three dweebs looked at each other. “We’ll let you know,” said the skinny guy. The others added “yeah, we’ll be in touch” and “we’ll let you know in a few days.”
“Pussies!” is what Don called them after they left.
“You know I’m not getting into this shit, don’t you?”
“Of course I know that, Kelly. I’m what they call an astute judge of human character and I know that you’re one of those straight arrows. You’ll probably end up in the fucking FBI making chump change when I’m a billionaire. Besides, you think I’d let anybody else handle the money other than me?”
“So why’d you bring me along and tell those guys I was the go-between?”
“It’s all business, Kelly. Something that a guy with a cop mentality like you will never understand.”
“They needed to see that this was a serious operation which means it couldn’t be just me. I had to have at least one employee to show or they’d figure it was all bullshit.”
“Those guys are not gonna go for your deal, right?”
“Nah, no balls. The problem is that I need smart guys who can write top-notch papers but guys like that usually have no balls. It’s the way of the world, man.”
“What if they rat you out to Dean Farricker? You must at the top of his list anyway after the deal with the pharmacy guys.”
“Farricker? That fucking old priest is drunk out of his mind most of the time. And if those little pricks rat me out, I’ll get my Dad’s lawyer to sue them and their families. They’ll be living in a cardboard box when I’m done with them.”
“Sue them for what?”
“Defamation of character. That’s the big ticket lawsuit because once your character is defamed there’s no telling how much money you’ll lose in the future.”
“Your Dad would actually pay a lawyer to do that for you?”
Don shook his head and said he couldn’t believe how stupid I was. “Listen, you don’t pay a lawyer shit. They take a piece of whatever they get out of the person they sue. Take the case of that spic who busted the fender on my Camaro. Let’s say I collect ten grand. Our lawyer gets four and my Dad says I can keep two grand while he takes the rest. Of course, it’s probably going to be closer to a hundred or two hundred grand considering my injuries but that will take a while, until the spic sells his houses.”
I never knew if Don ever got his term paper business off the ground, and I didn’t want to know. The Fall semester began not long after that and I was busy. I had a new part-time job at Sears and I started going out with a girl from Hunter College.
Our paths didn’t cross again until a snowy morning in January. “Hey Kelly, how they hangin’?” was his greeting, a little embarrassing since I was having a heavy conversation about Nietzsche with my philosophy teacher, a Jebbie scholastic named Joe Lombardi. “Thanks a lot, Trump,” I said after Lombardi took off for the Jesuit residence. “That was a Jebbie, for Christ’s sake.”
“Fuck him,” Trump replied, amiably enough. I asked him how his classes were, blah-blah. “All A’s again, my man.”
“Yeah, but don’t you have to make up for last term?”
He looked genuinely puzzled. “What the fuck you talking about?”
“About those courses the pharmacy guys took for you. Don’t you have to do them again?”
“Nah, that was part of the deal my Dad and his lawyer worked out for me. I still got my 4.0. I’ve always been a great student because I have a photographic memory.”
We walked a little farther. I knew the world was corrupt but I never figured it would be that easy to pay off a college that’s run by priests. “I didn’t see any signs of a new wing for the library. How’s that going?”
At this, Don stopped and put his hand on my shoulder. “Son, there’s a lot you need to learn about how the world works. My old man would never throw money away on crap like that!”
“But didn’t you say that was the agreement he had with the Jebbies?”
“Yeah, sure, but the beauty part of it was that they couldn’t put that kind of deal in writing. That would be what is called a quid pro quo and Fordham could lose its accreditation for shit like that. So it was all based on a handshake between Farricker and my Dad’s lawyer. A handshake? Can you believe how dumb those fucking Jesuits are?”
I found the story unbelievable. In fact I found everything about Don Trump unbelievable but at the same time absolutely fascinating. “Yeah, I need to keep my 4.0 to get into Penn next year,” he added. “I’ll be saying goodbye to this shithole before long.”
It had warmed up and the sun came out as we passed Edwards Field. We leaned against the fence watching the Thomas More girls. “Ugly as shit, aren’t they?” was his observation, to which I answered, “They’re not that bad. And some of them are really smart, very interesting to talk to.”
“Interesting to talk to?” he shook his head in amazement. “Are you a hundred percent sure you’re not a faggot?”
I told him to go fuck himself and asked how his business venture was going. “Oh great! Terrific, believe me. It’s so good I had to find a way to expand into a whole new area, and it’s a goldmine, to tell you the truth.”
“What is it this time? Bribing professors or blackmailing them?”
“Very funny, Kelly. Ya oughta be a comedian.” He was eyeing a tall girl who was crossing the roadway. “No tits whatsoever,” he announced, shaking his head. “I ask you who would fuck a girl with no tits?”
“What about your new business?” I asked him, unable to stifle my curiosity even though I really wanted to.
“Oh yeah, here’s the thing. I am always noticing business opportunities which is a great gift of mine. Always has been. So I do some market research to make sure there’s a demand out there for a product or service, you understand?”
“Yeah, sounds like you took Business 101.”
“I didn’t have to learn it in some fuckin class. This is my natural talent, a gift I was born with. So let me give you an example of my market research. First, I ask do you like to fuck girls? Guy says yes, Mr. Trump, I do. Second I ask, do you fuck girls in your dorm room? Guy says no, Mr. Trump, Jebbies won’t let me. Third, I ask do you want to move to an apartment off campus where you can fuck girls all day and all night. Guy says Yes, Yes, Yes, Mr. Trump, I do I do I do.”
“Yeah, so what are you telling me? You gonna open a whore house or what?”
“See that’s what I’m saying. Guy like you sees the same situation I do but has zero idea of how to make money off it. But me, I always see the chance for a great deal.”
“Okay, genius, so explain it to me.”
“The situation is that every guy in the dorms would jump at a chance to move into an off-campus apartment because they all have a delusion that they would then finally get laid. Truth is that most of them are schmucks who couldn’t find their dick with both hands. But they got this delusion and then they come up against some major obstacles. First, a lot of apartment houses don’t want to rent to college students because they think they’ll wreck the place. Second, most apartment houses insist on a two year lease but college guys don’t want to pay rent through the summer. They can’t even imagine breaking a lease because they’re good little boys and their Daddies told them that would be wrong, and plus they’d get sued. And third, most apartments are handled by brokers who want two months rent up front as security.”
“Is that right? Two months?” I was interested because actually I was hoping to move off-campus ever since I started going out with the girl from Hunter.
“Yeah, but the real job of the brokers is to screen out the niggers and spics. Strictly speaking, it’s not legal but if the slobs who run the brokers’ offices didn’t know how to screen out niggers and spics, they’d go out of business in about a day and a half. Most of the time, the niggers don’t even get past the secretary up front.”
“How does that work?”
“Simple. If a nigger comes in, she’ll tell them to fill out an application and says they’ll get a call if their credit checks out. Then as soon as they’re out the door, she puts a little mark on the application, an N for nigger or something like that, and files it away. This way if the NAACP sends in a ringer, the broker can always say he’s processing the application.”
“All of this is fascinating shit, Trump, but where’s the profit for you?”
“It’s simple, like all great business plans.”
“So, enlighten me in my ignorance of great business plans.” As I’ve said more than once, Don Trump was immune to sarcasm.
“You’ve heard of eliminating the middle man?”
“My plan was to create a middle man out of thin air. There’s these guys I know from over on Arthur Avenue.”
“Yeah, so these guys are white. They look like solid family men and got the ID to prove it. They go to the broker with a broad, maybe a couple kids, and apply for an apartment. It all checks out and they get the two year lease.. And plus, they don’t even have to pay a fee because the people who own the run-down buildings a couple blocks from campus are desperate to keep them lily-white. They would practically pay a nice white family to move into one of their dumps. Only, the nice white family that just signed the lease doesn’t even go anywhere near the apartment.”
“I don’t get it. Where does this fit in with Fordham guys renting a place?”
“You really better never go into business, Kelly, if you can’t see this yet. Let me spell it out to you. The Fordham guy gives me a standard broker’s fee, two months’ rent, and I give him the keys to the apartment which I have gotten from the supposedly nice white family from Arthur Avenue. And presto, a bunch of college guys move in and begin holding loud parties and trying to get laid. At the end of the term or whenever, they move out after completely trashing the place.”
“But what about the white guy from Arthur Avenue who signed the lease?”
“He doesn’t even exist! All his ID was fake. And I give him half the fee so he ends up making a nice chunk of change for a couple hours’ work.”
“And it’s working good so far?”
“Yeah, like clockwork. Spread the word that I’m the man to see if anybody wants to move off campus. I’ll even give you a finder’s fee, maybe twenty bucks?”
“Thanks, Don,” I told him, heading to my next class. He was an amazing fucking guy but of course I didn’t send him any business.
I think I might have seen him around campus a few times in the Spring term but when I came back to Fordham in September of 66, somebody told me that Trump had transferred to Penn. By then the war was going full blast and I probably never gave a thought to Don Trump for the next year, year and a half. Most of Fordham was still gung-ho for the war at that point, full of Irish Catholics whose big dream was to get a lifetime job with IBM. As for me, I began to hang out in the East Village. I grew my hair long, smoked a little grass and went to protests against the war. And that is how I happened to be at Columbia in May of 68 when the cops stormed the campus. I was what the Daily News called an outside agitator, only I wasn’t doing much agitating, just watching. About an hour before before dawn, I climbed up on the barricade blocking the main gate and called out, Brother police, join us!” Then as if on cue, there were cops all the place, behind me, in front of me, swinging nightsticks, cracking heads.
I ended up on Broadway outside the gates with my head intact, unlike a lot of students who were covered in blood. The cops pushed us back a block or two as an old Black guy began to sing The Internationale. As the sun came up, I was getting hungry and began to walk downtown, looking for someplace where I could get coffee and an egg sandwich. This was, believe it or not, before McDonalds had been invented.
As luck would have it, no sooner had I gone into a luncheonette somewhere in the seventies than I hear that familiar voice: “Kelly, what the fuck you doing out of the Bronx?”
“Trump.” I shook his hand, not exactly overjoyed to see him again. He was wearing one of his usual great suits but it was rumpled and the tie was gone. His hair was a lot longer. “I heard you transferred to Penn.”
“Yeah, Wharton. That’s a real college for you. The real Ivy League. All of my profs say I’m number one in my class.”
“I’m so happy for you, Don.” No need to mention that my sarcasm went right over his head. He told me that he was in the neighborhood getting laid and I told him about what I’d seen at Columbia, how the cops had gone wild attacking the students.
“Columbia’s supposedly Ivy League but it’s not in the same class as Wharton School of Business, believe me. Most of those assholes probably only got admitted because their rich daddies pulled some strings.”
“Unlike you, you mean.
“Right. I was admitted to Penn one hundred per cent on my merits. My 4.0 and the whole leadership thing with student government, how I brought football back to Fordham for the first time since Vince Lombardi, yatta yatta.”
“Oh yeah. I guess I missed that.” He ordered another round of scrambled eggs, sausage, ham and bacon. The man could eat, I’ll give him that. After he had slowed it down, he turned to me and asked me to put out the cigarette I had just lit. “Fuck you,” I said but stubbed it out anyway. He said that he had never smoked or drank and that’s why he would live to be at least one hundred years old.
“You know, I was just thinking about that shit at Columbia,” he continued. “There’s gotta be a business opportunity in it somewhere.”
“Like what? Selling peace buttons?”
“Nah, I tried that in Philly but the cheap fucking hippies wont even pay a quarter for ‘em. No, I’m thinking long term. That’s one of my gifts. I see long term. I have what my Dad has.”
“What’s that, money?”
“Oh sure, my Dad is gonna set up me with a couple mil right after graduation. Just to test out a couple real estate ideas I got.”
“You’re not worried about the Draft?”
“Nah, that’s all a done deal. Bone spurs, my man.”
After he had explained to me how perfect bone spurs were as a way to beat the Draft, he came back to the idea of him having great vision like his Dad’s, only better. “It’s a unique ability with me.”
“Okay, Don, so what do you see with your long range vision?”
“In the future it’s gonna be all about politics. That’s where the real money is gonna be.”
“You mean, like bribes and pay-offs?”
“Nah, that’s just penny-ante shit. I’m talking about a government that will make money. You take Viet Nam. Why aren’t we having the gooks pay us to protect them? We’re over there getting killed for the little bastards and they got zero respect for us. You know why? Because people only respect what they pay for. We ought to be charging the Europeans too for keeping the commies off their back.”
“It’s a beautiful idea.” Once again, I could not stop listening to the guy.
“And then you take right here in the USA. People are fed up right now with the hippies protesting and especially with the niggers burning down their ghettos. Anybody who could tap into that could be president for life, believe me.”
“In other words, a candidate could get to be president by promising to do something about the troublemakers? And then what, would he shoot them all? Jail them for life?”
“Nah, he wouldn’t have to do anything like that once he got to be president. People are such idiots they can be distracted by some crazy new shit while the president puts the government to work doing what it should do, making money.”
“You mean, making money for himself.”
“Well sure, only a loser works for the peanuts they pay a president. But other people have to make money too and the way I see it is that the president should let rich guys build shit like new bridges and highways, collect the tolls, and kick a decent percentage back to him.”
“It’s a beautiful idea, Don, but tell me one thing. Who would be the president?”
“Who do you think? Me, of course.”