Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

© Jeff Matthews   entry Sept 2015   Allegro ma non troppo #22  (original pub. date, Lion Magazine, 1991)

Gnomes Anonymous
--my Swiss Bank Account


Robert Louis Stevenson once said: "Each man has secret thoughts that would shame Hell." There is, however, no malignant upwelling of the soul, no debased creature of fantasy creeping in the sewers of the psyche, perversely adumbrated by the sickly gaslight glow of Victorian neurosis, that is as foul as what I am about to reveal to you about myself.

Go on. Go on. (Sorry to step on your lines, but if you won't learn your part…)

My name is Jeff and I have a Swiss Bank account.

Hello, Jeff. You swine.


Ah, that does feel better. I feel as if someone has just lifted an Oldsmobile engine-block from my spirit. At first the shrinks in Vienna couldn't figure it out. They thought it had to do with failed toilet training. (I could never get the toilet to fetch or heel). But, no, it turned out to be that Swiss bank book of mine. In spite of the fact that a lot of fine, upstanding people, some  of them even Swiss, have their money guarded by the so-called "Gnomes of Zürich", just the sound of "Swiss bank" conjures up pictures of Nazi war criminals and deposed dictators stashing their ill-gotten plunder. This, in spite of the stringent—dare I say 'draconian'?— Swiss banking regulations, which require foreign depositors to prove that they have never been executed for Crimes Against Humanity. I guess I'll just have to live with the guilt by association.

I couldn't help myself. And it wasn't even hard. It's not like walking into a real bank or anything. You just wade through the cows, belly up to the window and say:

"I'd like to open a bank account".

(Teller checks behind you for large amounts of overt cash spilling out of bags which have had the "Treasury of the People's Republic of Santa Banana" logo hastily inked over).


"Fine. Name?"
"Felix Mendelssohn."
"Sign here, Mr. Mendelssohn."
"You want to see some ID?"
"Why would you put money in for someone else? Besides, you get a nasty pimple on your tongue if you lie about these things. Now, how much "granola" are we talking about here." ("Muesli," in the original Swiss German).

"Uh, twelve dollars, please."

(Teller looks at my mouth. She looks irritated, the way people do when the audio goes out on the TV. She is waiting for more zeros).


Anyway, she takes my cash and gives me my book. I don't get a toaster, either, but  I figure I have now joined a pretty select bunch of people, the UN High Commission on Scum of the Earth, notwithstanding.

I have no real use for a Swiss bank account. Basically, I use it on customs officials. I used to think it was fun to wise off to them:

"Have anything to declare, Mr. Mendelssohn?"
"Just  drugs and guns, man."
"Mr. Mendelssohn, will you take off your skin, please." No sense of humor. Now I leave such folderol to those who really need a third degree to complete their education. Now, its:

"Documents, please."
"Sure. Passport. Driving License. Swiss Bank Book. Big Burger Scratch 'n' Win Card." (You gotta shuffle it by 'em real fast in the middle of other stuff so they they don't think you're trying to impress them.) They never say anything, but customs guys have radio transmitters in their heads where their brains used to be, so their goons, in sun-glasses and ill-fitting suits, immediately start casing the joint, looking around for your goons, a camp following of presumably unregenerate Death Squad thugs whom you concealed by putting in your luggage and covering with money. And then the German shepherds trot over and start sniffing you. But they can't touch you, 'cause you're clean: Hello, mutt. Here, sniff this. Go chase hubcaps. No one here but us gnomes. Drives'em crazy.


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