Before the goat’s-milk bath, before the injections, and the bag of donuts and the last enema of the day; before the game of Risk (low-bosomed over the board, his head heavy with chemicals) and the multiple screenings of Tootsie; before the gunplay without which he could not sleep — count the bullet-holes in the ceiling! — and the prayers to Isis; before all that, there was always the struggle.
“Raoul, I want to visit the children.”
“Oh, no, Mr. Albert. No children today for you.”
“But the children . . . Their pretty heads at play . . .”
“No, Mr. Albert.”
“I demand to see them, Raoul!”
“Mr. Albert, you know what happen. If they see you ’round that playground one more time, with you coat on? And no pants? And no socks? You gonna get arrested.”
And the voice of Albert Goldman, king of unauthorized biography, would begin its nightly ascent through the octaves of indignation, from petulance to hysteria. Why, he cried, had his love of innocence made him an outlaw? He who had gazed into the monstrosity of late-period Elvis, who had entered the broken-glass chambers of the mind of Lennon . . . Why was his poetic soul forbidden to refresh itself upon the beauty of a child? Raoul was an ape, an enforcer, a traitor, a Caliban. Must the soul of Goldman starve? And on and on, until he was panting, wild-eyed, awash in sweat, his robe flapping and the twin strands of his comb-over coiled against his scalp like characters in some goblin alphabet.
“Is bath time, Mr. Albert,” Raoul would say at last.
(Not for nothing had he held this job through six eventful years.) “You take you nice bath, you feel better, you not get arrested.”
And Albert Goldman, meekly as a medicated lamb, would allow himself to be led to the bathroom.
There’s a good chance Kill Your Idols: The Unauthorized Biography of Albert Goldman by James Parker will never be in stores.