has been stretched
from San Francisco to Arizona
where manicured men
have come to an end. The bareback Continue reading
The downsizing is over. What remains is packed. We’re shutting her down and hitting the road.
of nail guns and jack-
hammers, spit up
and concrete. I will
unplug from dumb
for depression, from
drug hazed penis
dysfunction… I will
empty my head, heart
and soul Continue reading
Out our front door
and to the left at the corner
on our block (neighborhood not cell)
sits a house that crack built.
It survives and thrives with a constant flow
of clientele, fresh
out of prison. Continue reading
I thought they were probably going to take me into the alley by Gordo’s Liquor Store. I had been in there and knew there was a recess about half way down that housed the liquor store garbage containers. It was smelly and full of shadows, a perfect spot for them to do their dirty deed. I’m sure they had it figured to where they’d be long gone by the time I was able to pick myself up and scramble for help.
I was pretty certain I wasn’t going to need any help. Of course a little doubt always seems to elbow it’s way in at times like these and this time was no exception. What if Skinny had the rest of the gang sequestered away in the alley for reinforcements. In that case, I would be overwhelmingly out numbered and in big trouble. This wasn’t a Hollywood stunt. This was real life, mine.
My antennae popped up and went on full alert. I had to be ready for anything.
We paused at the alley and both boys looked around. It was eerily quiet. The street was mostly empty of pedestrians and devoid of cars. Mrs. Cooley was putting out oranges in front of her tiny market and there was a lady walking her black poodle near the bank. Other than those two people nothing was going on. A surreptitious glance into the alley fortified my belief that it was also deserted.
“This way old man.”
Of course it was The Skinny One with all of his bravado that hissed and gave me a yank. I had planned to take them by the garbage cans, but the yank disengaged me from The Vulture and I used the momentum to fall and roll. I grabbed Skinny by the shirt, planted my feet in his groin and tossed him into the alley on the backside of my roll. There was a disconcerting crunch.
“You Mo Fo!” he growled in obvious pain.
That was sugar to my ears. I had him wounded but thankful that it wasn’t mortally.
I rolled back onto my feet into a crouch and braced myself to pounce on The Vulture. But The Vulture hadn’t moved, he was standing frozen at the mouth of the alley. His mind and eyes looked as if they were running on Meth overdrive.
“What the Hell you lookin at?” Skinny railed from the alley behind me, “Get the old coot.”
Vulture mustered a hesitant lurch toward me and then stopped as we locked eyes. He didn’t like what he was seeing and that was enough, he turned and boogied back up toward the bank.
I put my attention back on Skinny. He had managed to get himself into a sitting position up against the brick of the liquor store. His left ankle was clearly broken and was going to need a good surgeon to piece it back together. He moaned.
“I am going to go into the liquor store and call an ambulance,” I said, “But before I do I want to give you a little advice to think about. You do have the capacity to think, don’t you?”
He glared at me.
“I mean what I say.” I emphasized.
He continued to glare but was obviously struggling with the pain. I could see the beginnings of a crack forming in his facade.
“It goes like this,” I said, “The Vulture flew the coop. It is not a bad thing to do when flying is called for. He saved himself a world of hurt and a visit to the hospital. I know in your mind that he saved nothing because he didn’t save you. It is your intention to hurt him bad because you failed to hurt me. I’m telling you to drop it. You and your little gang. Just leave him alone. The consequences of dishonoring me and hurting him are not something you can afford.”
My eyes bore into him. “Do we have an understanding?” I asked as I pressed him harder with my will.
The pain was more than he could bear. He dropped his head and looked away. His body wilted and his bravado vanished into the broken lost child he truly was. A sob suddenly escaped his constricted throat.
I knelt beside him and gingerly put my hand on his head. It was a calculated risk I was willing to take. He flinched but didn’t bite. To his everlasting benefit, The Skinny One gave in. He asked for help.
I rose and turned to go.
“Thank you,” he said or he didn’t. I can’t say for sure, I can only hope.
Part 3 to come soon. Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®
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®