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Friday, July 6, 2007

The Small-Loan Conman

John Hallmann

Russ Specter is a genius. His ability to make friends and blend in anywhere make him one of the most likable people you could ever meet. The F.B.I. has been tailing him for the past 25 years and he has stolen millions in the course of his career. Specter never stays anywhere long, after gaining his subjects’ trust he requests numerous unassumingly small, insignificant loans before disappearing into the night air forever. He is armed and extremely dangerous. These are the testimonies of just a few of his victims.

Nina Sobralasolas, Junior, Hinsdale Central High School
Chuck, as I knew him was such a nice guy. He transferred into our high school in November and didn’t know a soul. Before long though, he was friends with everyone. The nerds, jocks, faculty, skaters, Goths, fags, Bloods, Crips all just thought he was the bee’s knees. He was involved with all types of extracurriculas too. With his help it looked like the tennis team was gonna go downstate! But, then one day he asked me if he could borrow five dollars. He’d forgotten his wallet and he wanted to get some fish sticks, the cafeteria special that day. He wasn’t at school the next few days and I began to hear some grumblings. My friend Laura had lent him her copy of Catcher in the Rye. Mr. Pacek had lent him an old microscope, and why not? He was president of the science club. But everyone got gypped. The Chuck we knew and loved was a fraud. He up and disappeared.

Gustavus Oxtierna, Professor, Department of History, Boston University
The history department at this institution is reputed as one of the best in the country. It is no secret that many respected scholars fill our ranks. Yet, I’ll be frank: they’re a little peculiar by all accounts. True, sitting around reading about the atrocities of the Golden Horde all day could do that, but I feel it goes far beyond that. When Russ came along, he puffed a breath of fresh air into this stagnant intellectual marsh. I would have gladly sacrificed my wind breaker if it could have stayed that way. But now, going back to the way things were is almost unbearable…

Greg Howard, Neighbor, Savannah, Georgia
I was so happy to have another Marlins fan in the neighborhood. Not every day I get to enjoy a good convo about baseball. I own a drapery company and have three daughters. Everyone just loved him though. Whenever he’d be out mowing the lawn everyone got a friendly hello and an intriguing conversation before he’d excuse himself to finish his yard work. Since he was new to the area, and such a nice guy, everyone invited him to their barbecues and what have you. The next door neighbor set him up with one of the girls who worked in his optometry office. Then one day, he asks me if he can borrow my weed whacker. I didn’t even hesitate. Later that night he disappeared; along with some Tupperware, lawn furniture, a putter, a few jazz CDs, and some other odds and ends. It’s too bad things turned out the way they did. The family that live in his house now are total asshats.

Dave Farnon, Coworker, CVS Pharmacy
Right when Specter got a job at the pharmacy I was about to quit. He was super cool though and working there wasn’t so bad for once. He made hella fun of the manager Sheri behind her back but she just loved him. Everyone did. Even the customers! The skeezy fuck had regulars … senior citizens who just came to talk to him in the checkout line for a minute or two. Then one day when he was getting ready to bounce for lunch, he asked Sheri if he could borrow some suntan lotion, he forgot his. It was a totally hot day. Then as he was about to leave, he asks to borrow my 49ers hat to keep the glare out of his eyes. Last time I saw it. Everyone was super bummed when he never came back. Sheri cried.

Mabel Ontarky, Resident, Fillmore Retirement Community
I became familiar with Mr. Specter a few days after his nephew had left him here at the house. He stayed in his room the first few days. It was a rough transition for him. When he finally came out and joined us, he did nothing but complain about his family. He fit right in. He was so funny! He said he used to sell insurance. I told him my Uncle Lou did too and before long we were such good friends. I still miss him despite the fact that he stole a few of my Beanie Babies. He said he was going to show them to his visiting grandson. I wish he’d write …

Dot Boyd, Teller, TCF Bank
Working at the bank is boring. All you do is sit around all day counting money that isn’t yours and people are just so rude. But it all changed when Russ got a job here as a teller. It was fun for once. We made fun of all the customers, ate snacks all day, and played pranks on each other. One time he put all of my teddy bears in provocative poses and they were like that all day. What a stitch! Then one day Russ asks me if he can borrow my umbrella, it was raining pretty hard that day. Then as he was about to head out to his car, he pulled out a gun and shot three security guards. After raiding the vault and clearing all the drawers he ran off with 2.3 million dollars. I keep forgetting to buy a new umbrella …

John Hallmann is a comedy writer, performer, and former associate editor of National Lampoon. His work can be found at McSweeney's, The Onion, CollegeHumor, and other publications. His life's ambition is to clone and domesticate dinosaurs for practical agricultural purposes.