In the film classic, "On the Waterfront," there is a very poignant scene in the back of a taxi between Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger, who plays his brother. Brando, a longshoreman, was a boxer, and he blames Steiger, who is mixed up with the mob, for ruining his chances to be a contender by making him throw a fight.
I was reminded of this scene the other day when I was sharing a taxi with two gentlemen I didn't know. They were in the back seat and I was in the front, and they didn't think I was listening to what they were saying. I was.
Apparently, one of the men had worked for Nixon in the White House, though now he looked quite scruffy. His leather jacket was torn, he wore no tie and there were holes in his shoes.
The other man, who I found out later was his brother, was well dressed and wore a camel's-hair coat and an expensive hat. His name was Charley.
"What's bugging you, kid?" Charley said.
"You know damn well what's bugging me. You kept me out of the Watergate scandal and now I don't have a nickel to my name."
"I did it for your own good. Terry," Charley said. "I didn't want you to lose your moral compass."
"I could have had a million dollars by now. I knew there was something fishy going on in the White House with Nixon and his crowd, but when I told you about it you said 'Stay away from it, kid. They're up to their necks in trouble and they're going to pay for it.'
"I remember that's what you said and like a dummy I listened to you. I turned my back on Watergate and look at me now."
"But kid," said Charley, "I was just trying to keep you from going to jail."
"I could have done a year at Allenwood standing on my head if I knew what was waiting for me when I got out. If you'd have just let me be part of the coverup, Charley, I'd be a big man today. I could have erased the tapes or deep-sixed the stuff from Hunt's safe or been the bag man for the guys who were blackmailing the White House. Paperback houses would be fighting over me now, I'd be on talk shows and the lecture circuit. I might even have my own radio show. There was a goldmine in Watergate and you wouldn't let me get involved."
"Okay, so I made a mistake," Charley said. "But I only had your best interests at heart. I was trying to keep you from the agony of going in front of a grand jury and then through a trial. I didn't realize how much money the people involved in Watergate would make or how famous they would become. But at the time I thought the best thing for you to do was walk away from it."
"You were my brother, Charley. You should have known how big the payoff would be for a Watergate conspirator. If it hadn't been for you I would now be at prayer breakfasts and in the Bob Hope Golf Classic. I'd be a celebrity and I'd get the best table in a restaurant. They'd have done my novel as a mini-series on television. I would be SOMEBODY."
Charley put his arm on his brother's shoulder. "Maybe it's not too late. Why don't you go to the Special Prosecutor's Office and tell them you want to come clean on Watergate? Tell them the break-in was all your idea and that you and Nixon worked out the coverup before Haldeman and Ehrlichman even got in the picture."
"It's too late. The Watergate Special Prosecutor's Office has been shut down," Terry said. "They aren't interested in anybody else confessing. Besides, everyone in town knows I had nothing to do with Watergate. That's why no one will give me a job."
"I'm your older brother," Charley said. "Are you going to hold it against me for the rest of your life because I made you keep your nose clean?"
"You ruined my life. I'll always be a nobody, the guy who blew the 'Book of the Month Club' because his stupid brother wouldn't let him get involved in the greatest political scandal of all time."