I saw It Coming, Part 6

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Two fingers Kim had been sitting at a table near the door to Tin Man’s doughnuts when the old Indian walked passed and out the door.  He had watched the Indian and the kid with the cast do their little dance and it didn’t add up.  Why would the old guy write a check to a punk kid?  The little prick had actually smiled and kissed the check.  Something was going down.

Two fingers slipped out of his chair and followed the Indian.

Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®

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I Saw It Coming, Part 5

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Skinny didn’t need to turn around to know who was standing behind him, but he turned anyway and stood up to face me on his broken ankle.  We were about the same height.  He wasn’t a bad looking kid.  He had long eyelashes that any woman would have envied.  He also had high cheekbones that gave him an exotic look.  His downfall was his perpetual sneer.

“I knew this day was comin,” he said quietly.  “I have a rep, old man.  You planing to step on me?”

Our noses were almost touching so we were virtually privately engaged in our conversation.

“Not today,” I replied, “I want you to keep your rep, so no, I won’t stand on you.”

“That be cool,” he said and relaxed noticeably.

“I’m interested in making a deal with you,” I said.  “Care to hear me out?”

Skinny looked around Tin Man’s.  Several of his peers were having coffee and trying to keep their pants from falling all the way to the ground.  They were oblivious to our confrontation.

“Shoot.”  Skinny said.

“I’m offering you a high paying role in my new venture,” I explained, “It involves being a leader.  I need one.”

Skinny looked at me perplexed.

“You’re a natural,” I said.  “You have what it takes.  You have charisma.”

“Don’t know much about none of that,” he said.  “Besides I already got me a job.”

“I ain’t offering you a job.  I’m offering you a life.”  I said emphasizing life.

His eyelashes twitched.  “You want me to be an actor?”

“You’re already one of those, so no, I want you to be yourself.”

Again that puzzled look.  I hoped that I hadn’t overstepped myself with my sarcasm.

“You want me to be myself?  What kind of BS you talkin here anyway?”

“Not BS, I just need you to be yourself,” I said.  ‘You interested?”

Skinny stared at me with his sneer in place.  “This high pay, how much you talkin?”

“If you are in, I’d say $1,600.00 a week to begin with.”  I said.

“You deal’n drugs or what, old man?  I’m not into being served up as jail bait.”

“This has nothing to do with selling drugs or anything else against the law.”

“What is it I got to do for this money?”

“Meet with my partner and I.  We’ll fill you in.  I know it’ll be a bit cumbersome with your foot in a cast, but we’ll work it out.”  I extended my hand.

Skinny stared at me long and hard then tentatively shook it.

“You have a bank account?”  I asked him.

“Of course,” he said.

I pulled out my checkbook and wrote him a check for sixteen hundred dollars.

“First week’s pay in advance,” I said.  “We’ll meet this Friday.  Be here at noon and I’ll come and get you.”

Skinny almost gave up his perpetual sneer and snapped the check.  He stuck it under his nose, took a long whiff and kissed it.  Then in a flash it disappeared into his pocket.

Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®

The Weed Whacker

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     Anyone who has to regularly deal with weeds and grass surely owns one of these whirly devils.  Sure beats the scythe I had to use as a kid when I worked for the county road commission clearing grass and weeds away  from road signs and guard rails.  At the time I was just happy to have such a fine paying job for the summer that would enable me to go to college in the fall.  If George Ballas had been  a little earlier with his weed whacker I probably would have been out a job.  I most likely would have not gone to college and I would have missed all the Coeds and the parties.  The education I mostly missed anyways, but the sex and excitement?  Thank George, for the weed eater a little later than sooner.

     Currently, I have a very large and unruly lot rather than a nice yard surrounding our house.  If not for the weed whacker I’d be the scourge of the neighborhood.  God Bless Mr. Ballas for sticking fishing line in a tin can and spinning it around.  Here in 2015 I’d rather deal with na bunch of irate neighbors than having to attack the lot with a scythe.  Not much can stop the weed eater’s whirling string from decimating the tall grass and weeds, quickly.

     As I chopped through the weeds on this very bright sunny day, I could only hope the guy was fortunate enough to get rich off this miracle of a contraption.  From what I have been reading over a cup of coffee, George was able to make it all happen.  Hallelujah!  He created and ran a very prosperous company for his blessed Weed Whacker.

Richard Rensberry, Author QuickTurtle Books®

Guest Poet, Dean Blehert

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God Be Less Us, Everyone

We bring God or the gods into everything.
Bad hair day? It’s in the hands of the Gods.
Car accident? It is written.
She loves me? Thank God!

The operative word is “into,” the human stratagem
for taming God or gods. We like our gods
corked up in bottles or bound to boulders
or nailed to crosses or so long confined
to skulls (after aeons of trying to get a head)
that they can no longer find or conceive of
an exit from what they are certain they are,

for certainty (when we have become solid)
is impact: We become the cages whose bars
we have cracked against in our efforts
to get out. Straightjacket stratagem.

We bring God or gods into anything
we think we can control. We think if we flatter
the gods, attributing to them our joys and sorrows,
we’ll seduce them into giving a damn about us.
Then, if we can make the travails of human bodies
the best show in town for them, they,
like us when we get sucked in by the soaps,
will fixate. How hip and naughty of us
hypnotists! O ye gods, wouldn’t you like to be
in a lovely, tragic head like mine and each have
your own reality show.

By Dean Blehert, Copyright 2014       Visit, http://www.blehert.com for more of Dean’s poetry as well as some of my work in his Guest Poets section.

Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®  http://www.quickturtlebooks.com

TBone Ditty, creator of the QuickTurtle® Band

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TBone Ditty was born on a north country farm.  He was surrounded by home craftsmen and influenced by their skill and assortment of hand tools from an early age.  He built tree houses and soapbox cars out of the scrap lumber he rummaged from old coops and dilapidated barns.  His beech tree house was where he formed his first band.

He was eight years old.  He created a xylophone out of an assortment of soda pop bottles and a set of drums out of old metal milk pails and creamery cans.  He found an old whiskey jug in their farmhouse basement and a Hohner harmonica that had been sat on way too many times.  One of the neighbor boys brought along a rusty old cowbell they incorporated as well.

They called themselves “The RagTag Boys” even though TBone’s older sister Carla did the vocals.  She was a screamer but could carry a tune well enough to get them by.  She also took a liking to ringing the cowbell and yodeling at opportune times.

Music wasn’t just a flash in the pan for TBone.  He convinced the other kids to come to the tree house almost every weekend to practice and help write and perform his silly songs.  It wasn’t but three months later and they played in a talent show down at the local church.  They didn’t win but they raised some eyebrows.  They became a hit among their school friends and were invited to play at birthday parties and family picnics.  They even earned some pocket change.

TBone kept the RagTag Boys musically motivated for a couple of years and then his mates seemed to outgrow the simple instruments and TBone’s overbearing devotion.  Their were baseballs to be pitched and hit over the fence.   There were girls that needed teasing and kissed.  Those things, chores and homework absorbed their precious free time.  The RagTag Boys disbanded and went their separate ways.

TBone himself continued along his musical path by toying more and more with woodworking and the building of sophisticated stringed instruments.  By the time he reached his twelfth birthday he had built his first fiddle and an acoustic guitar.  Both were functioning instruments when he formed his second band called “The BuzzCuts”.  It was made up of a batch of new friends with the exception of their lead singer who was once again Carla.  She had blossomed into a pretty and bodacious entertainer.

The band graduated into the realm of being a bonafide garage band until the fateful day when Carla was accepted and called away to acting school.  TBone tried to forge ahead, but without Carla the band lacked the vocals necessary to carry them forward and the BuzzCuts went the way of the RagTag Boys.

TBone was 16 years old.     (to be continued)

Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®  http://www.quickturtlebooks.com

The QuickTurtle® Band, The QuickTurtle Fiddle

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QuickTurtle Fiddle

     The QuickTurtle Band had stopped over in Cabo San Lucas to let Robbie get in a little surf casting before their concert in San Diego.  TBone sometimes joined him in the rolling waves but decided to forego the fishing fun for the opportunity to design and build QT Magnolia a new fiddle.  He had been struggling with what to get her for birthday and this was the perfect opportunity for creating and giving her something meaningful.

     Her original fiddle had been recently misplaced or stolen while on their major-city tour in South America.  QT was by no means devastated by its loss but the fiddle did have memories of younger days associated with it.  TBone knew it was his chance to replace it.

     He tipped his hat to Robbie and headed down the beach.

     He scored even before he arrived at the first cove.  He found some great pieces of driftwood in a rocky area that was seldom touched except by the highest of tides.  The right pieces of wood always seemed to speak to him and several pieces jumped out and spoke very eloquently.  If they didn’t talk, they wouldn’t sing and he didn’t compromise when it came to instrument building.  He hauled them back to the beach area near the hotel and went to work.

     TBone loved the craft of woodworking.  He went about the the task of building his instruments as if he were possessed.  He lived on coffee and didn’t stop tinkering until the fiddle was strung and ready to be tuned.  His nerves were standing on edge as he tightened the first string.  When he plucked it, it resonated all the way to his toes and he knew immediately that he had created something very special for QT.  He smiled an laid back in the warm sand completely satisfied and exhausted.

     QT found him that way, fast asleep with the fiddle cradled in his arms.  When she reached out and put her hand on the instrument it felt almost alive.  She couldn’t resist the temptation and gingerly extracted it from TBone’s grasp.  She found Robbie and they headed for her bungalow to get her bow.  Robbie brought along his guitar and they fiddled with creating their new hit song, “The Anchor’s Chain”.

Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®     http://www.quickturtlebooks.com

I Saw It Coming, Part 4

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I ran into The Vulture as he was coming out of Mrs. Cooley’s market.  He was carrying a paper bag with an assortment of healthy looking greens sticking out of the top.

“Good stuff.”  I remarked, gesturing toward the bag.

His eyes darted right, then left two or three times before he backpedaled.  Then he realized he had nowhere to go but out through me.

“How’s Skinny’s ankle?” I asked, hoping to disarm some of his mistrust.

The Vulture wanted no part of it.  He sidled further away.

“He been bothering you any?” I asked.

The Vulture stepped toward me and  feigned like he was going to scuttle out past me, but I didn’t budge.

“Those for your mother?”  I asked, pointing to the greens.

He mustered a slight nod of his head.

“Good lady.  Tell her Sugar says hi and wishes her a happy birthday.”

The Vulture dropped his guard slightly and a wry smile twitched his lips.

I turned to the side and let him scuttle past.  He rocketed up the street like a worried crab.

I had already decided that I needed to pay Skinny a visit and my encounter with The Vulture reminded me I had better confront the matter directly.  I needed him.  He was one of the cornerstones for Ned’s and my endeavor though I hadn’t confessed this point to Ned.

Skinny was fairly smart and in the scheme of things I knew that could be his downfall.  I needed to find out if his intelligence could be redirected toward a greater good and that would have a lot to do with how he perceived weakness and strength in himself and in others.  I was hopeful after what had transpired in the alley by Gordo’s Liquor Store that I had a running chance.

I found him down at Tin Man’s Doughnuts.  It was a popular hangout for many reasons.  Mostly it was cheap but the doughnuts were actually pretty good and the coffee was rich and flavorful.  The place was also lively.  There were always chess games and people playing cards.  It was populated by a mixed bag of gamers, gangsters, bookies and cops.  It seemed that everyone got along while indulging in gambling and sweets at the Tin Man’s.

I hadn’t been there for a few months, but nothing had changed.  it smelled of sugar and stale grease.  The Tin Man was parked behind the counter lording over the cash register.  He was very large, probably six foot five and 280 pounds.  I think that is why everyone seemingly got along.

He cordially nodded at me and I nodded back.

Skinny was at the counter with a pair of crutches leaning against the wall a few feet to his right.  His ankle was in a cast.  I’d heard rumors that he’d invented a story about how he had been the victim of a nasty skateboard fall.

“I hear you fell off your board,” I said standing directly behind him.

“Yah, took a good one over on Petrero.”  He said without turning around to see who I was.  “I really busted up my ankle.”

“Tough hill to skate,” I said.

“Not so much,” he replied, “I just don’t give a shit.”

“Me either,” I said, “your version is as good as gold to me.”

Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®

I Saw It Coming, Part 3

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Life itself is a calculated risk.  You never fully know the consequences of your actions or inactions until after the fact.  Those with honor do their best.  Those with the heart of a snake become corporate bullies, psychiatrists or politicians.  They do not kill before they eat.  They simply poison and swallow you whole.

That is what happened to Berlinski’s Hardware.  Ned stood and tried to fight the snake when he should have run.  It swallowed him.  He could have sold the property for half a fortune when Home Depot wanted it, but Ned hung on because he loved his business and its place in the community in which he had invested his life.

He was also stubborn.

“I don’t need any of your charity, nor do I want it,” he said shaking his head.

“It is not charity I’m offering.  We can make good use of the property and I also need your help,”  I consoled.

“Bullshit.”

“Bullshit right back at yah.  Look, I got accosted by those little punks.  You know as well as I do it’ll happen again.  If it hadn’t been me things would have turned out badly.”

Ned stared at the floor.

I pressed on.

“We can make something of this, Ned.  Let go of the past.  It’s time to move on.”

He sighed.

“You built something once, you can do it again.  I believe in you and I believe in myself, and that’s not bullshit.”

“Okay!  Okay, I’ll listen.  I ain’t saying yes and I ain’t saying no.  I’m just saying.”

“Good enough for me,” I said.  “Let’s walk it off.”

Ned had grown accustomed to my hikes.  He was even beginning to enjoy them as much as I did.  We were loitering in a grove of eucalyptus looking down at the parking lot of the Home Depot and I was pointing at the array of buildings that had been his empire.  It looked beaten and pushed into a corner by the corporate bullies.

“We can put in a new entrance off Biscayne,” I said.  “There’s plenty of room for parking and expansion.”

“You know what she looks like to me?” Ned chuckled.  “She looks like that hooker with the green wig and Beatle boots that hooks down there by Larry’s.  She looks used up.”

“Used yes, but not used up,” I said.  “We don’t need the current structures.  we can start from the ground up and the wood from the buildings can be reclaimed for a lot of our interiors.  Even the graffiti can be used to add some character.  The kids will like that.”

“You really think this is a good idea?”

“No.  I think it’s a great idea.  With my money and your leadership, we can’t lose.”

Ned chewed on his lower lip for a few seconds and then smiled.  He looked me straight in the eye and stuck out his right hand.  I greedily grabbed it.

Ned let out a laugh.  “Alright!” he exclaimed.

Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®

Carefree

enthused turtle

I want to lay in a field

where strawberries taste

like sunshine, where killdeers haste

one wing away

just out of reach.

I want to teach our child

how to play a game

of clouds.  Kiss you

on the mouth

and tickle your fancy in and out

while the lark and whippoorwill sing

from their precious perch

on a thistle.  I want to whistle.

I want to hum.  I want to bumble

along to Neil Young

or Mumford and Sons

on a Sunday

or a Monday

with you.

Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®