The trouble with
facilitating was that it left no mark, no KILROY WAS HERE. He has covered the
walls of his rec room with 50 Ali photos. He reminisces every day. He watches
videos of old Ali interviews he helped facilitate, and sometimes tears fill his
eyes. "I wish I had a kid I could tell," he said. And then, his voice
going from soft to gruff: "I'll get married when I find a woman who greets
me at the door the way my dogs do."
casinos, they knew what Kilroy might be worth. All those contacts around the
world, all those celebrities who had slipped into the dressing room on a nod
from the Facilitator: perfect qualifications for a casino host. First the Dunes
hired him, then the Tropicana and now the Golden Nugget.
Each day he
weaves between blackjack tables and roulette wheels, past slot machines and
craps tables, nodding to dealers, smiling at bouncers, slapping regulars on the
back, dispensing complimentary dinners and rooms to high rollers and "How
are ya, hon?" to cocktail waitresses. He no longer gambles: All the lust
for action is gone. All that remains is the love of arranging a favor, of
helping other members of Ali's old "family" when they hit hard times,
of facilitating someone else's wants now that his are gone.
"As you know,
I was all over the world with Ali," he said, leading a multimillionaire
into one of the Golden Nugget's suites. "I got the royal gold-carpet
treatment everywhere. But this"—he swept his arm across the
room—"solidifies the epitome of luxury. Look. Your Jacuzzi. Your
sauna." Again and again his beeper would sound, and he would be connected
with another wealthy client. "Sure, I'll have our limo pick you up at the
airport.... Your line of credit is all set, $100,000."
comes to Vegas to see a fight, he will mix with high rollers at Kilroy's
request or sign a couple of dozen boxing gloves, a stack of a hundred
photographs, mementos Kilroy passes out to favored clients. In his world, Ali
souvenirs are currency. "One man was so proud of the things I'd given
him," he said, "that when he died, he was buried with his Ali picture
and boxing gloves. I can give people their dreams."
When Ali is near,
Kilroy looks at him and remembers what the two of them once were. Sometimes he
feels helpless. How can he facilitate away Ali's great fatigue with life—when
he, too, feels sated and weary? "I remember one day not long ago when he
was signing autographs, and I was standing next to him. We heard someone say,
'Look at Ali, he's a junkie.' Muhammad's eyes get kind of glassy sometimes now,
you know. I wanted to choke the guy. But Ali nudged me and kind of smiled. God,
I hope he wins this last fight...."
On an impulse he
picked up the phone and dialed Ali's number. "Hello, it's Gene.... You've
been out walking, huh? I wish I could walk with you.... I can just barely hear
you.... I said, I wish I could walk with you.... It's good you're walking;
you'll feel a lot better.... Hey, wouldn't it be nice to have a reunion at Deer
Lake? Get everybody together—Sarria, you, me, Bundini, Pat, Lana. Get Lana to
cook a roast, potatoes, gravy, everything. Wouldn't it be?...No, not bring back
old memories. Bring back great memories.... Yeah.... O.K., well, get some rest.
See you, champ...."
He hung up the
phone and stared at the wall. He glanced at his watch. Another day was nearly
finished, a day of facilitating rooms and meals and money for men who still had
the appetite, and he knew what he would do with the night. "I could call
and have three girls if I wanted," he said. Instead he would drive past the
riot of blinking lights, past the ads for bare-legged showgirls and sequined
singers, through the warm night air of Vegas to his home in the suburbs. His
three dogs, all boxers, would jump up and lick him, and he would let them, and
he would call hello to his 80-year-old mother, eat dinner and settle back for
an evening of TV amid the Ali photos. "The foxhole," he said. "I'm
going back to the foxhole."
Next! How many?
Two? O.K., let's move it, please! Next! You gettin' big, honey! How come you
don't stop by more to see me? Soup! Chicken noodle soup, anybody? Next! Hey,
Eskimo, what you doin'? Ain't you beautiful? You want two? Gonna kill yo'self,
storin' up all them fat cells. Next!"