this is taken right out of James lee Burke's book Swan Peak. I am printing it so you can see why I not only love J.L.B. but why I love Clete.
"Clete Purcell was the bane of his enemies and feared in New Orleans by pimps, drug dealers, cops on a pad, jackrollers, scam artists who victimized old people, and sexual predators of all stripes. Paradoxically, his closest friends included whiskey priests, strippers, stand-up cons, hookers on the spike, badass biker girls, button men, Shylocks, and mind-blown street people who claimed they had seen UFOs emerging from the waters of Lake Pontchartrain.
His reputation for chaos and mayhem was legendary. In the men's room of the New Orleans bus depot, he forced a contract killer to swallow a full dispenser of liquid soap. In the casino at the bottom of Canal, he blew a degenerate into a urinal with a firehose, then escaped the building by creating a bomb scare on the casino floor. He dropped a Teamster steward off a hotel balcony into a dry swimming pool. He filled a gangster's hundred-thousand-dollar convertible with concrete. He hijacked an earth-grader from a construction site and drove it through the front of a palatial mansion owned by a member of the Giacano crime family. No, that is not an adequate description. He drove an earthmover through the entirely of the home, punching through the walls, grinding the furniture and tile and hardwood floors into rubble under the steel tracks. Not satisfied, he burst through the back of the house and destroyed the garages and parked cars and all the grounds, uprooting the hedges and trees, pushing the statuary and flagstone terrace into the swimming pool, finally exiting the property by exploding a brick wall onto the avenue.
I could go on, but what's the point? For Clete, life was a carnival, a theme park of harlequins and unicorns, a reverse detox unit for people who took themselves seriously or thought too much about death. In an ambiance of palm trees and pink sunrises on live-oak trees, of rainwater ticking onto the philodendron inside a lichen-stained courtyard, inside the smell of beignets and coffee and night-blooming flowers two blocks from the Cafe du Monde, he had lived the ethos of the libertine and the happy hedonist, pumping iron to control his weight, eating amounts of cholesterol-loaded food that would clog a sewer main, convincing himself that a vodka Collins had little more influence on his hypertension than lemonade.
During all of it, he had never showed his pain and had never complained. The Big Sleazy was God's gift to those who could not find peace in either the world or rejection of it. How could one refuse life inside a Petrarchan sonnet, particularly when it was offered to you without reservation or conditions by a divine hand?
But the chink in Clete's armor remained right below his heart, and the same knife went through it every time.
It's fair to say most of his girlfriends were nude dancers, grifters, drunks, or relatives of mobsters. Most of them wore tattoos, and some had tracks on their arms or thighs. Bu the similarity in Clete's lovers didn't lie in their occupations or addictions. Almost all of them were incurable neurotics who went through romantic relationships like boxes of Kleenex. The more outrageous their behavior, the more Clete believed he had found kindred spirits.
Ironically, it wasn't the hookers and strippers and addicts who did him the most damage. It was usually a woman with a degree of normalcy and education in her background who wrapped him in knots. I suspect a psychologist would say Clete didn't believe he was worthy of being loved. As a consequence, he would allow himself to be used and wounded by people whose own lack of self-knowledge didn't allow them to see the depth of injury they inflicted upon him. Regardless, it was the quasi-normal ones who hung him out to dry."
Sigh*..............James Lee Burke is the man...and Clete, if he was a real person, would own my heart.