Monday, March 19, 2007

Hut Hut Hut Hut Hut Part 2

(This is the second part to a two-part post. That means scroll one post if you are not up to speed...)

I drew this map so I can cut down on some words. Six apartment units. An orange dumpster. Cop cars in the street. All of those green dots are people gathered to watch what was going on, sitting in chairs, standing around, leaning up against the building...

The lone green dot in apartment number one was Gene- still in Vietnam.

Gene had some kind of super duper medal he earned when he and his patrol were attacked one day. He said he unloaded so much brass that when he walked, it was on top of spent shell casings and not on the ground. The more stories I later heard from Gene, the more I understood why he stayed inside. He was actually deathly afraid of getting shot. It made him sort of nervous.

A man had taken a ten year old girl hostage and was holed up next door in those green apartments. Those were four unit blocks, two down and two up. He was in one of the upper ones and all those green people where I was were sitting in his line of fire if he happened to stick his gun out of the small window above the bathtub shower combo and shot blindly downward. It was unlikely that he would do that considering he had larger flanks to cover, and so we felt reasonably safe though I did mention the obvious to those drinking their beers.

“He could actually hit us from up there.” I think I said.

Everybody seemed to think that that was a very entertaining thought.

Cops ran through in front of us with light weight ladders and climbed up onto the roofs of this complex. I marked them like little green dead frogs because I can’t draw with a mouse very well.

Radios blipped and lots of conversating went on between static.

A young cop yelled at all of us to get inside as he ran by, and I think more than ten people flipped him off. Everybody was wanting to see the drama unfolding in front of us, and they had ringside seats they weren’t giving up.

When the blast of the shotgun broke the tumultuous tension, I don’t think anyone was ready for it. Almost a half hour had gone by, and bullhorns and “negotiations” were in session, and the man with the ten year old girl wanted to emphasize a point, apparently. Turns out he shot a hole in his own ceiling, and it rained down white sheetrock pieces and filled the room with an unhealthy dust.

They brought his rickety old Momma in to talk to him over the bullhorn, and he eventually gave himself up.

The ten year old girl was physically fine, but scared to the bone.

Three hours into my first day of work, and I had moved all of ten bags of garbage, and two raunchy mattresses.

That felt like enough for one day, but we still had an hour on the clock. Most of the cops bled off back into the streets and a few stayed behind to do what scene-of-the-crime cops do, but that was now all taking place next door. The coterie of apartment dwellers were all now pretty drunk, having had two hours of riveting entertainment to accompany their sippages of really strong nasty beer..

Rolf and I went back to find Gene still holed up inside number 1, and he was acting like he had been working the whole time. A small corner of carpet had been pulled up, and he got Rolf and I involved in trying to get all the rotten carpet taken up and rolled up and then dumped into the dumpster.

Remember low-riders? I mean, back when they were in movies and all over the place? A beat up old Impala, maroon and primer gray, pulled into the driveway sort of crossways and parked, pointing its nose at apartment number 1. Sure it had some nice ghetto trash jumbo bass crap going on its stereo, and the cheap and thin windows rattled where we worked. These were apparently some of the boys who had come for the mattresses. Only they didn’t DO anything, they just parked and got out and sat on their car.

How so very cool.

I always admired guys for having the bravery to put a large dragon tattoo on an arm the circumference of a closet dowel. Woohoohoo! You are one tough looking hombre! Or those tats where it looks like you are wearing a faded blue bracelet around biceps that looked like bones wrapped in skin. I mean, scary, dude. White tank tops with Bundeswear (sp) labels on the chest, as if these Hispanic boys had volunteered to drive tanks in Germany? Wow! Stand back America...

These guys were like beer. They always seemed to travel in six-packs. Bench seats, skinny dudes, a big car. A perfect six-pack set up.

And there they were. We ignored them as best as we could and worked up the carpet and rolled it up and dragged it out past them and off to the dumpster. They snarled at us. I never fully understood their relationship with the two pros, but it was apparent that they were not happy with the eviction. These were boys full of angst and covered in coolness, by god, and we were supposed to take notice.

When 5 o’clock rolled around, the low rider was still blocking the driveway. We couldn’t get out unless they moved. Gene got himself a little nervous and then was relieved when a Vietnam Vet who lived in number 3 invited us to his front yard to sample some of his home made beer.

This gave us something to do while we waited for the Hispanic punks to clear out.

Blech! I drank about half a pint of the foulest tasting beer imaginable. Fecal Tea with an Aluminum aftertaste. But it had a kick as it was probably 12% alcohol.

This was Mitch. Mitch had been to Nam but he had been kicked out of the army after he took pot shots at a latrine with an officer sitting in it. He spent six months of his tour in jail and he was proud of it. Now he delivered uniforms for a laundry service and drank this crap every afternoon starting around three when he got home from work. He had a hideously ugly wife and three kids with sores on their mouths and I don’t think he ever called them by their names.

5:30 rolled around and enough was enough. The alcohol had made me brave. I knew there were still cops next door, as well. These guys were punks and I had an extension cord that could reach their car. I also had grabbed a small electric chain saw out of Gene’s carry all. Rolf followed me around and gene sort of came with, and the next thing you know I was dragging a cord toward the six punks and revving a silly little chain saw that sounded awful toy-like and wimpy. Not like a good gas Stihl, that’s for sure.

I think I said something macho like - “OK boys. Move this thing or I take the tires out!”

There was lots of posturing and “fuck you, man’s” and all of that, but in the end, and with the help of Charles who had returned once he figured out the cops weren’t looking for him (he actually came and stood behind me with his gnarly arms folded) , the Hispanic punks got in and hopped a few times on front hydraulics and then cruised off like a dissatisfied shark.

And that, people, was my first day of work.


Jeannie said...

I think I made a couple dollars in tips my first day of work. Not quite as exciting as yours.

Hammer said...

Good story, I was friends with low riders like that. They weren't as tough as they acted :)

That beer sounds pretty good, it must have been for you to go after the cholos with that electric egg beater ;)

Stucco said...

My first day of work was for some NY mobsters at a money laundering pizza place. Still not as exciting as yours.

Scott from Oregon said...

Hammer-- Yeah it just sort of dawned on me that they were punky and skinny. I was a sixteen year old tipsy kid who was probably made too brave by the bad juice. Thinking back, that little chain saw was a silly thing to grab, but at the time, it made sense. Next time, an electric hedge trimmer!

That job was four months of ghetto insanity. I was always glad to be out of there before dark. Charles turned out to be a scary puppy of a man and he was very loyal and protective of Rolf and I. He was built just like Leon Spinks, and about as eloquent. As long as he spoke on my behalf.

The mafia, Stucco? Do tell...

Nikky said...

geez, makes my first job at McShithole sound so (much more) lame.
Yeah, stuff does happen to you...lucky us, we get to hear about it!

Nancy Dancehall said...

Well, that outdoes my cadaver work-story.

Cheesy said...

Sorry.. forget the story... I want that CAR!

hehe... Man what was the second day like??

Even an electric chain saw would scare me off lol! Got to use the tools at hand....

Bernita said...

Entirely vivid.

kario said...

Love the six-pack analogy and I feel such sympathy for the poor Vietnam vet hiding out - he must have needed some new shorts after the shotgun went off.

Keep it coming, Scott!

Maggie said...

Aaah, the rest of the story. Riveting. You started early with the "stuff happens to him" scenario didn't you? Sixteen. I was working in a plant nursery pulling weeds and watering hanging baskets at sixteen.