I Saw It Coming, Part 15

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     I could barely see the Home Depot parking lot through the soupy mist as I watched Skinny make his way off to becoming a boss.  I had told him to take his time, that he should engage as many of the guys as it took to find four of them he felt he could trust to work with.  His head was high, his shoulders back.  I was pleased at my choice.

     Ned had fallen into the rhythm of things and was willing to oversee the remainder of the demolition of his old dreams and the construction of a new one.  It was what he needed to halt his descent into bitterness.  The sense of purpose would serve to make him ambitious and young again.

     I headed toward Market Street.  I had to put my attention back on the Vulture.  It was important to pull him out of the dirty water before he got himself in too dark and deep.  Guys like Two Fingers Kim didn’t let go easily.  I needed to find a way to get leverage on Kim or I’d have to orchestrate getting him arrested with the goods.

     It was a busy Saturday on Market Street even at 9:00 in the morning.  The fog was not a deterrent for the tourists, it was part of the ambiance of San Francisco.  I figured I’d catch up with Two fingers if I just parked myself somewhere inconspicuous and waited.  I chose the bus stop near Fourth, it was busy enough for camouflage and I could keep an eye on both sides of the street.

     I wasn’t disappointed, only twenty minutes had passed when Kim and the Vulture ambled by me without even a glance.  The kid looked out of it, he was either hung over or he had already indulged for his Saturday deliveries.  For the moment, the two of them were empty handed, so I figured they were headed up to the apartment building in the Tenderloin to fetch the dope.  I still didn’t have a plan, but I was hopeful of catching a flash of brilliance on my way to grabbing a doughnut and coffee at the Tin Man’s.

Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®

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I Saw It Coming, Part 14

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     It was 5:00 PM and we were knocking off.  The fog had slipped back to the ocean but now it was cascading back over the hills from Daly City.  The Mexicans had long given up for the day and were gone to wherever they go.

     “Why you doing this?” Skinny asked me.

     “The wood has a life and a purpose of its own,” I replied.

     “No, not that.  I mean me.  I tried to rob you.” Continue reading

I Saw It Coming, Part 13

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     Skinny could have cried foul and leaned on his cane, but he didn’t.  He followed my lead and was industrious.  He methodically went about dismantling his handy work board by board with a pry bar and a hammer, careful not to split the old wood.  I liked his quiet demeanor and finesse.

     I paused and looked across the property to the Home Depot, it was quit busy.

     “See those guys hanging out in the Home Depot parking lot?” I asked, pointing to a group of Mexicans milling about near the back entrance.

     Skinny looked up, nodded his head and went back to pulling on a stubborn nail.

     “You speak any Spanish?” I asked.

     “See, street talk.  I grew up in Oakland near Fruitvale.”

     “Good.  They work hard,” I said, “but most of them fake it when it comes to English.  If we hire a few of them you could speak your way around their jive, right?”

     “No problemo.”

     “Then that’s what we are going to do.  We have a whole work force right here on our doorstep.   I will pay you what I offered if you can get them to dismantle the rest of these buildings with the same care and finesse that you are using on your artwork.”

     The kid looked from me to the Mexicans, then back to me.  “Bossman?” he asked.

     “Bossman.”

     He grinned and dropped his hammer.

     Bossman was going to fit him like a shirt.

Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®

I Saw It coming, Part 12

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Skinny hobbled into the Tin Man’s at about 11:50.  He had ditched the crutches for a cane.  He gave me a little smile and a tip of the head.

I was delighted to see another small break in his armor.  I stood and gave him a knuckle tap.  “How’s the ankle?” I asked.

“Chillin,” he said.

“Skin,” I said, “this is my partner, Ned.  Ned, Skin.”

They guardedly shook hands.   Ned wasn’t a knuckle guy and Skin wasn’t a shaker; awkward.

“You up for a nice beefy hotdog down at the Costco?” I asked Skin.

Skinny looked around and seemingly finding he wasn’t the center of attention, he shrugged his shoulders and gestured.  “After you, old man,” he said. Continue reading

I Saw It coming, Part 11

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     Friday rolled down Market Street dripping heavy with fog.  I was a little reticent about the future after being sucked into the underworld of Two Fingers Kim.  I blew on my fingers and raised my collar as I hiked  up Market street to meet Ned and Skinny.

     I shook Ned’s hand out in front of Tin Man’s Doughnuts at 11:30 AM and it was still bone chilling and damp.  When we walked inside out of the cold Skinny was no where to be found, so Ned and I got a cup of coffee and sat at the table near the window where Two Fingers had met with the Vulture.  While we killed some time, I decided to fill Ned in on my little foray into detective work.

     “The heavyset kid is a runner for Two Fingers.” I said.

      “That Korean is bad news,” Ned voiced and took a sip of hot coffee.  He shook his head and pursed his lips in disgust.

      “I agree,” I said, “he’s seasoned, mean and smarter than I first thought.”

      “Smart wasn’t the adjective I had in mind,” Ned answered.

      “But he is.  He knows what he is doing.  He has some business savvy and he’s got it figured out so that others will take the fall when the heat shows up.”

      “The fat kid.  You have a talk with him?” Ned asked.

      “We have an ongoing relationship you might say.”

      “What the hell we getting ourselves into Sugar?” Ned asked with true concern.

      “Life,” I said, “we’re too darn young to just fold up or walk away.”

Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®

I Saw It Coming, Parts 1-10 for catch-up and new followers

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I Saw It Coming, Parts 1-10 for anyone that would like to catch up and read my series without searching through my archives. I hope this makes it easy to join me as the story progresses. The Author.
I Saw It Coming
by Richard Rensberry
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. Continue reading

I Saw It Coming, Part 10

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     I soon discovered that the Vulture had been recruited as a delivery boy.  He was dispensing the goods and rather efficiently to Kim’s clients.

     I needed to get out ahead of him if I wanted to witness a transaction, so when the Vulture left Market St. to go down fifth, I moved on down Market and went into a t-shirt shop that Two Fingers had solicited when I had been tailing him.  I cruised down one of the aisles to the rear of the store near a set of stairs and parked myself behind a rack of Giant’s pullovers.  I pretended to browse with interest through the shirts. Continue reading

I Saw It Coming, Part 9

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     I was led into the Tenderloin District.  My boys entered an apartment building about a block from City Hall.  Before they entered, Two Fingers gave the Vulture a dressing down.  His head dropped and his hands disappeared into his pockets as he stood there like a sponge and soaked it up.  That’s how kids get molded into criminals, how terrorists become terrorists, they are weak and easily manipulated by the criminal mind. Continue reading

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®

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®