I Saw It Coming, Part 7

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     It was a great day in SanFrancisco.  It was sunny and warm for a change with only a slight breeze coming off the ocean.  I decided to head down to the bay and snoop around to see if I could find some well washed beach glass.  I like to make mosaic animals out of the old glass.  Old stuff was getting harder to come by, but I had been having some luck when the tide was out.

     I was currently working on a giraffe and needed to find some leg and hoof pieces.  I had already completed the piece with paper and it was ready for the transition to glass.  I thought it might be a nice center piece for our new reception area once Ned and I got rolling on the reconstruction project.

     When I got down to the Embarcadero I decided to detour into the Walgreens across the street from the Hyatt.  Someone was following me.  I had felt his presence shortly after leaving the Tin Man’s.  I didn’t know if Skinny had put a tail on me or what.  Kid’s can be pretty sharp when it comes down to trust issues.

     When I turned around I glanced about for anyone that had stopped moving.  People that are tailing you tend to go into motionlessness if their target goes still or looks around.  It is some kind of natural reaction under the circumstances and is almost like a poker tell.  They don’t know they are giving themselves away because they are trying too hard to hide themselves behind their tell.  That’s precisely why it is a tell.

     I saw three people that fit the description.  I immediately ruled out one of them because he was panhandling and dressed in street clothes that had seen better days.  One of the other  guys was talking on a cell phone and looking in my direction.  He was dressed in a blue sports coat and expensive slacks.   The last guy was kind of beefy with several tattoos visible on the backs of his arms and neck.  He was pretending to look in the window of the Starbucks next-door .  I recognized him, he was Two-Fingers Kim, our local drug trafficker.  My tail.

     Kim had been in jail enough times to own a time share.  Though I had never met him up close and personal, I knew of him and his destructive wake.  From what I heard, he was one tough Korean.  His last arrest had taken a whole precinct of cops to take him down and haul him in.

     I really couldn’t think of any possible reason why he would be following me.  I turned and went into Walgreens.  I walked to the back of the store and went through the door marked for employees only.  The delivery area doors were closed and the docking area empty.  I found the exit door out into the back alley and scurried back around toward Market Street.

     When I came to the corner by the cable cars, I could see him still standing there by Starbucks.  He was shifting from foot to foot getting antsy.  I watched as he waited another few minutes and then went inside Walgreens to find me.

      I decided to abandon my project and turn the tide on Two Fingers.

      He came out of Walgreens about five minutes later.  I have no idea what he thought or even if he thought at all.  I gave him a half block head start up Market and followed discreetly.

Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®

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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®

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®

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

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®

The QuickTurtle® Band, My Blue Guitar

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Beneath fluorescent lights

in crowded terminals

nothing to do but drink

and piss in urinals

too many times too remember.

All the hotel rooms

and tasteless airport food.

Nothing to do but joke

and buck up to the rude

vibe of  Security.

I strum my blue guitar

and fiddle with a verse

to vocalize my angst

and rawness of my nerves.

“My name is TBone Ditty

older and akimbo

pretending that I’m witty

with my blue blue guitar.

I’m feelin awful shitty

but I sing from the heart.

On the road here in Limbo

I’m lookin none too pretty

but I sing and I shout

it’s a pill of a city

where my fans hang out.

My name is TBone Ditty

and I’m down for the count.”

Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®

I Saw It Coming

.    image           I Saw It Coming, The Series.  Part 1

I hike everyday.  It is energizing and allows my spirit to open up to my surroundings.  I am able to observe with the spirit’s eye and see universes beyond the physical reality of things.  I am delighted to take photographs and collect artifacts like feathers and wood for use in recreating what I have seen in my imagination.

On my many wanderings I have come to find hidden and secluded places where almost no human ever ventures anymore.   I am not talking about the wilderness, I am talking about within the city limits of San Francisco.  Most of The City is a massive tangle of abutted structures, but not all.  There are forsaken copses of trees and open spaces in this bustling cityscape.  Some appear forgotten as the now condemned Berlinski’s Hardware that sits forlorn with its boarded-up windows next to a twenty-first century Home Depot.  I used to frequent that old Hardware Store and it was way more interesting than Home Depot could ever dream of being.

My name is The Surest Sugar Maple.  The Elders christened me with the namesake as a young child because of my propensity to take calculated risks that none of the other kids could wrap their wits around.  I was the one that climbed the railroad trestle and tied the rope so we could fly out over the cliff and fall into the river.  I hunted and snared the rattlesnakes that were fodder for our moccasins.

If I wasn’t sure about a dare or a challenge, I wouldn’t take it on until I had it figured out to where the odds were in my favor.  I couldn’t be swayed but I could be bought.  It served me well in Hollywood where I spent many years working with the likes of John Wayne, Fess Parker, and Jimmy Stewart.  I was one of the Indians falling off horses, cliffs and bar stools.  I have an abundance of physical wounds to show for it, but I am alive and a very rich man because of it.

I am also old, but I am not as decrepit as the cocky little teenagers think.  They have begun to follow me at times and are over-confident, foolish and blind.  Their bodies are full of fast food and drugs.  They lack the power of observation.  They only see an old man, they do not see beneath the surface where I am fleet as a gazelle when and if I need and want to be.

The Skinny One and The Vulture had been waiting to ambush me when I came out of the Wells Fargo on Biscayne Street.  The Skinny One sidled up to me on my left while The Vulture nervously poked something implying a gun into my ribs.

“Gotcha old man,” The Skinny One hissed.  He was their teenage lips, their fear and their bravado all mixed up into one.  Of all the little gangsters that I had noticed he seemed like the one that was dangerous.  “Just do as I say,” he said, “And maybe you’ll live to tell your chess playing Bros about shitting your pants down at the Wells Fargo.”

What he didn’t have was the gun.  It was The Vulture that had the weapon in my ribs and I had  since surmised that he had no business as a hoodlum.  He was too sensitive, weak minded and a coward.  Besides that, I had purposely bumped him with my elbow and there had been no weight behind the supposed weapon.  It was either his finger or maybe a plastic water pistol.

They ushered me down Biscayne.  An old man and a couple of teenagers out for a stroll.   As they did so, I quickly concluded that I was probably in no real danger.  That’s the luxury of having made  a calculated risk,  the odds are in your favor.  When I added it up, one way or another they were destined to lose.  They were high on adrenalin and probably cocaine.  They were having visions of how they had already won.

To be continued.

Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®