Willie, Time To Go (ongoing blog chapters saga)
(ongoing blog chapters saga)
By Mad Coyote Joe © 2004
“I tell you kid, televisions are a great way to pick up a little quick cash. I mean who doesn’t want a better TV, on a good day I can unload eight or ten of em.”
I’m a little confused. “Just how do you get a hold of eight or ten TVs?”
“Shit…grabbing TVs is easy. You wander into the Monkey Wards or any big store. All you need is a receipt. If you can’t find one in the trash or on the ground, just buy something that cost a few bucks. Walk on back to the TVs and fold the receipt so the store name is in plain sight. Tuck the receipt in your mouth, pick up a set and head for the door. (Back in the sixties merchandise was often stacked in the department) You can’t talk and nobody is going to ask a guy with a receipt in his mouth if he paid for the TV. The fuckin manager will usually get the door for you. And if he gets wise and starts asking questions, you can always throw the TV on him. The problem with them getting the door is they may want to help you to your car. You really want to avoid that. It gets a little sticky when you’re trying to explain the six or seven TVs in the back of your station wagon.”
My buddy, Willie Coogan is 34 years old. An anglo, that stands six-foot two-inches tall, 240 pounds, without a drop of fat. He’s a big, friendly looking man, with penetrating steel grey eyes and a big “shit eating” grin that never leaves his face. Willie’s the kind of man that other men find likeable and a little scary, both at the same time. With a sandy blond, full head of curly hair, a classic bad boy, women find him irresistible. He’s also a self described “Rounder” or career criminal, that has been in and out of prison all of his life.
I’m fifteen years old and big for my age. Willie works with me in the steel yard my family owns in the gritty industrial district of old south Phoenix. He needs a straight job to meet his parole requirements.
We’re fabricating iron on a pneumatic steel bender. It’s another sweltering summer day, working in the brutal Arizona sun, The bender we are working at is situated between two driveways that sit about twenty five feet off of the oily dirt road that runs in front of the steel yard. The neighborhood, a mix of old buildings and industrial plants, is the home of the poorest of the poor, numerous gangs, street people, junkies and drunks. So, it doesn’t seem odd when the two bums start arguing just outside the gate on the other side of the bender.
They look like street people, unkempt, dirty long hair, several days of stubbly beard. Both in dirty work pants, one wears a sleeveless Levi jacket and the other an old, faded, sweat stained, tee shirt that say’s, “American Graffiti.”
The guy wearing the sleeveless jacket starts, in a very loud, drunken voice.
“Jimmie, You didn’t even like that chick. I don’t need your shit!”
The shaggy man in the “American Graffiti” tee shirt looks over and starts talking to Willie and me with an intoxicated slur, while his friend stumbles on down the broken sidewalk, seemingly unaware.
Approaching us from the front, he blirts out, “Like her… Can you believe him? She was my cousin! I’ve known her all my life!”
We’re starting to laugh at the developing scene when the other man notices that his friend has wandered through the first gate into the yard. He is now standing at the second gate, just behind us, so he wanders on over.
Extending a friendly hand, he appears to be the classic happy drunk.
He mumbles to Willie, “Hey man, that’s Jimmie, I’m Sam, how you doin?”
Willie smiles and turns, to shake his hand. We are both snickering.
As he turns I noticed the man standing across from us reaching behind his back, as if to tuck his shirt in.
Suddenly, time slows to a crawl and all sound seems muffled. I see the next few seconds like an instant replay in some sort of twisted, slow motion movie. I watch the look on the man’s face change from a lazy smile, to deadly serious. In an oddly choreographed move, he pulls out a big blue-steel revolver. Grasping it with both hands. He is now pointing it directly at Willie’s head. This movement causes Willie to turn back towards him. The looming barrel of the pistol looks huge and hollow and is about eight inches from center of Willie’s forehead. Meanwhile, the second man produced his own gun. He grabs Willie by the shoulder. I watch as the barrel is firmly pressed just under my friend’s right ear at a slightly upward angle, causing him to carefully tilt his head to the side. Willie’s hands instinctively, start to rise, signaling surrender. The man on the other side of the bender say’s in very low, but deliberate, staccato voice“ don’t-even-breathe… F-B-I.”
Meanwhile several unmarked white sedans descend on the yard with lights flashing. Agents wearing blue blazers with F.B.I. in big yellow letters appear out of nowhere.
One of them says, “Willard Coogan, you are under arrest for interstate trafficking of narcotics, fraudulent schemes and receiving stolen goods. You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to an attorney…” He is cuffed behind his back and shoved to the ground in seconds. A couple of agents with shotguns stand over him pointing them directly at Willie’s chest. I’m pulled out of the way by another agent, asking if I’m alright.
A waiting sedan is pulled forward and Willie is jerked to his feet, lifting him by his huge arms. He is pushed in the back seat and accompanied by the two big agents, one on each side. The car immediately takes off. As they drive away, I catch a glimpse of Willie. All of the color has left his face. He looks as if he has aged twenty years in just a few minutes, like a caged dog on his way to the pound. This is the last time I will see my friend for just over eight years.