Saturday, January 29, 2011
This is a chapter in my up coming Novel Willie. Please send any comments that you may have or share it with friends that might like reading this.
“Joe, it’s Bill, I’m in the city jail on Trent Avenue. They want $85 for bail, could you go to my place, I’ve got a few bucks stashed behind my TV inside an old chessboard. Just bring the box with you and I’ll make it worth your while.”
Joe finds the key under the mat just where Billy had said it would be. He opens the door, walks over to the big, wooden television cabinet and feels around behind it. The wooden box with the chessboard printed on the lid was there, just like he had said. Joe walks back to the door, opens it and starts to step out.
He hears the distinctive metallic click of a shotgun slide, jacking a shell into its chamber. He instinctively, slows to a snails pace, raising his hands.
“That’s right… nice and easy. Step out slowly and keep those hands up,” says a big, rugged looking, detective, that is holding the pump riot gun, dead center on Joe. There are five other men, two more in suits and the other three wearing police uniforms. All have their guns drawn. Joe has a bad reputation.
While the first detective keeps the shotgun on Joe the two other detectives carefully approach. One takes the chess set away from Joe, while the other slaps the handcuffs on and grabs Joe firmly by the back of his shirt and pushes him toward a waiting squad car. One of the detectives opens the chess set and pulls out a plastic bag of small, black capsules. He utters, “Black beauties… must be 300 here. Pal you’re in for some time.”
Immediately Joe knows two things; first if they do a record check on him he’s gone for at least five years without this bullshit charge, and second, Billy sold him out. Billy’s reward from Joe could wait he had bigger problems.
Back at the station, Joe calls Alice and fills her in. Without being told she knows what to do and as soon as she hangs up with Joe she calls the lawyer.
“Look honey, I won’t bullshit you. He’s fucked. He’s looking at a minimum of seven years,” says Joe’s lawyer.
The year is 1964. Alice, twenty–eight years old, thin and unassuming, wipes down the long white counter, straightening the stainless steel napkin holders, plastic bowls filled with packets of sugar and the pancake syrup as she works her way down to top off his coffee. She is wearing a pink dress and an apron with black trim.
The lawyer keeps wiping off the beads of sweat, that are forming on his huge, bulldog like face. Red-eyed, peering at Alice over the top of his black-rimmed glasses and looking like he crawled out of a laundry hamper, his gray suit and dark blue tie need pressing. He’s been representing Joe for the past 15 years. Although she has never meet him before, she has heard plenty, about all the times he’s gotten Joe out of serious beefs in the past. She also knows if he drove all the way from Dallas last night to make the arraignment, this must be bad.
“What about bail” she asks?
“Bail… yeah the judge offered bail. Five thousand and he can get out until the trial. You wouldn’t have five grand lying around would you?” he asks.
“We don’t have that kind of cash, we don’t have $500”, says Alice.
The cook taps the bell on the counter, “Order up, Alice,” he says, as he slides two, dinghy plates of ham, eggs and hash browns into the service window. Alice turns around and stacks the plates on one arm along with two smaller plates of buttered toast. Grabbing a coffee pot with her free hand, she takes care of her customers and comes back to the lawyer.
“How long does he have?” she asks.
“I’d say three or four days… after that his paper will start to catch up with him and they’ll rescind the bail offer. How are you holding up,” he asks?
“Well… I’m married to a man that lives in a world that I’m not supposed to know about. I thought he was working again… when he left yesterday morning… something in the way he was moving when he walked out the door… I could see he had something on his mind. Like he was being overly careful… apparently not careful enough! He has friends with that kind of money but I don’t know them. I’ve never been to jail or in any real trouble. I’ll be fine… if we can just get him out we could disappear.” The words tumble off her lips as a distant thought. Suddenly she snaps back into the coffee shop and has a look of clarity as she tells the lawyer, “Don’t worry, I’ll be fine… we’ll be fine.”
Two hours later, across town Alice is wearing a scarf over her hair, a tan, full length, rain slicker and a pair of large, round, black sunglasses. Parking on the side of the building, she knows there is no turning back. She leaves the car running. Stepping from the car, with her heart almost jumping out of her chest, she tries to catch her breath, finding it hard to concentrate over the deafening rush of blood in her ears that sounds like a thundering locomotive. Walking into the bank, through the heavy glass doors, time is bending…moving sideways. Crossing the room, she feels like she’s wading, uphill, through a wall of honey. She watches what looks like someone else’s hand give, the teller the note. He reads it and reaches for the drawer… for the money. Yes… he’s putting the bills in a bank bag. Then she watches him slip his other hand under the counter. Lucidity gone, she barely registers the ringing of the alarm and wave of commotion. People start ducking and running in a slow-motion panic. And then like a sudden slap on a cold face in the dead of winter, the bank comes into sharp focus. The alarm is screaming. Every eye is on her. She is staring down the length of her arm, across the span, of the shiny black barrel, of an enormous revolver, that she is now pointing directly into the anxious eyes, of the bank teller, who is holding out the bag of cash. She grabs the bag and runs to the big glass door. Reaching for the brass push plate, she sees a massive fist, flash into the corner of her eye. The room suddenly flips sideways with a sickening crunch that throws her off her feet. Flying into the immense, plate glass door, face first, another smashing sound is followed by the warm rush of blood in her eyes and mouth.
She hears, “Don’t fucking move!” along with the distinct ‘click’ of a cocking pistol that is being pressed firmly against the back of her head. The blood dripping from her mouth, tastes like wet copper. Pain is shooting through the side of her smashed face and jaw. Oddly the marble floor feels cool… almost comforting to her cheek. Someone takes the pistol from her hand and then the bag of money. She is slowly rolled over by a bulky, middle-aged man, wearing a guard’s uniform. She hadn’t noticed him while entering the bank.
“A woman… it’s a goddamn woman! Just what were you thinking?” he mutters, while shaking his head.
Her trial was a mere formality. The judge gave her three years like he was sending her to summer camp. Doing three years in a State of Georgia work camp for women is like 50 years in the modern joints around the country. Alice was familiar with hard work. She had been working since she was 14, but this was something different. Her cellmates were mostly poor, angry blacks, bull dykes, and mentally ill housewives that had been thrown away by their husbands or hookers and junkies, any of whom will cut your throat, rape you or give you a beating in the showers as soon as talk with you. And then there are the guards; prison guards are the very bottom of the barrel. And women’s prison guards in Georgia are the worst of the worst. For the most part they are a bunch of uneducated, rednecks that love the idea of having control over a large group of trashy women that are in need of favors. Favors like; a shower once a week or seeing the doctor when they have a wound or a fever, or access to their lawyer.
In a women’s joint there are only a few forms of currency, drugs, cigarettes, weapons or violence and when all else fails for these women…the thing they’ve been trading all their lives, pussy.
Alice is a hard woman, but she has to fight almost everyday just to stay alive. The feds waited three months before coming to have a chat with her. She shows to the interview with a swollen lip and fresh, dark, bruise over her left eye and cheek.
“Look honey, all we want is the names of your husbands friends around the country. You give us five names that check out and we’ll arrange for there to be an error in your trial transcripts. You’ll go home and no one will ever know, not even Joe. We know that he’s connected. If you don’t go along we’ll make sure that you do every fucking day of your time in this shit-hole, no parole, no probation,” says the squeaky clean, fed wearing a gray suit and Ray-ban sunglasses.
Alice looks the fed that is doing the talking straight in the eye and says, “You must be mistaken… I have no idea what you’re talking about. So if we’re done I’d like to go back to my cell now.”
Friday, January 28, 2011
This is the first part of the chgapter "Puke and Weeds" I posted a few days ago. Let me know what you think.
Life is hard. My father tried to protect me from the world, but also knew that one day I would have to stand up and fight. My life up to that point was one of swimming pools, ice cream and ponies. I was thirteen years old and the hardest thing I had ever encountered was not being chosen for basketball or loosing at monopoly.
I was sitting, in the living room, on the big brown couch, with my father, watching television. Most of my friends had paper routes and always had pocket money. I wanted a summer job.
“I was wondering if you might have some work for me?”
“Well, we could use someone picking up the wire down at the fab yard.”
My father owned a rebar fabrication yard in South Phoenix. Rebar is, sort of, the skeleton of a concrete building or structure. In the office, detailers take the architectural drawings and figure out what load and stresses will be on the various components of the building. They design a rebar frame that is engineered to meet that load. They create a set of plans and cut sheets that list the quantities and various lengths or shapes needed to build the columns, beams or floors in the high-rises, bridges, dams, power plants or whatever is being built. The fab yard then takes stock lengths of rebar, cuts and bends it into the required lengths and shapes. It is then loaded onto trucks and shipped out to the construction site.
I remember thinking ‘how hard could that be?’
I said, “Thanks dad, that would be great!”
“Okay Joey, get some sleep and I’ll wake you up. We leave at four.”
“Four!” I had never got up that early. “What time do they start?”
“At five, it gets hot early”
The next morning while we were riding to work, he gave me a little talk.
“Joey these guys are real men, they don’t screw around. They don’t want to be your friend; they just want to get the work done.” He went on, “It’s been my experience that in life there’s always a whip. It will either be in your boss’s hand or in your own head. Trust me it’s a lot easier if you hold the whip.”
We got out of the car on the oil-covered dirt road in South Phoenix’s old industrial district. I was sticky and sweating and the sun wasn’t even up yet. There’s a smell in that part of town, chemical, steel, iron, dirt, sweat, and the smell of years of men working on the same piece of sun-baked ground.
A few minutes later an old truck pulled up and a short unassuming man in his mid-forties got out. He was wearing a faded yellow cowboy shirt and had a friendly little smile on his face.
Yawning and stretching he mumbled, “Morning Joe”
“Good morning Chuck, Joey this is Mr. Reeves.
“Good morning Mr. Reeves.”
“You can call me Chuck, Joey, It’s nice to meet you”
Then my dad asked if I had any money. I said, “no”.
“Well, here’s a few bucks, A truck will come around at nine and then again at noon. The foods not too bad. Don’t eat too much in this heat, it will make you sick. I’ll pick you up at two.” He knew I was a little nervous and added, “Just do what Chuck tells you… you’ll be fine!” Then he got back in his car. Chuck and I watched as he drove down the street to the old two-story, red brick house that served as his office.
As soon as he was out of sight, Chuck turned to me. The kindly look on his face had disappeared. With more anger than I had ever encountered, staring a hole right through me, he screamed, and he did so without raising his voice.
“Listen to me you little mother fucker, your daddy might have gotten you this god damn job, but he can’t keep it for you. Where are your fuckin hand shoes?”
“What?” I squeaked out.
“Your hand shoes… your gloves, goddamn it! You little son of a bitch, you show up on my time without your fucking tools. Ya know, I don’t give a rat’s ass… when your hands look like raw fucking hamburger go whine to someone else. Are you going to stand here bullshitting all day or are you here to work?”
I tried to answer but before I could he went on,
“I want every fuckin piece of wire in that yard in that dumpster before the end of the day.
In the fab yard they received up to ten trucks loaded with forty thousand pounds of steel each, every day. The bundles are tied together with rusty wire called bundle wire. It’s as thick as a pencil, so thick I couldn’t even bend it. All this wire is cut off the bundles and tossed into piles, after the cutting and bending the rebar is retied into smaller bundles and shipped to the job site. Wire is the lifeblood of a steel yard. Needless to say it would be impossible for one person, let alone a thirteen-year-old boy, to keep ahead of the piles and piles of rusty wire generated everyday.
I had no idea what I had done to make Chuck so mad, and I didn’t want to find out. I started picking up wire as fast as I could. The bundle wire looks like big spiders about a foot across and the tips of the legs are razor sharp. They get all tangled together and I had too pull as hard as I could to get them free. On the second or third bunch, as it broke loose it sliced deep into the palm of my hand. The blood oozed, and I howled, “I’m cut, I’m cut… Chuck help, help!!! I’m cut.” Chuck came running over.
“Let me see… Well shit boy you aren’t hurt, what kind of a pussy are you? You aren’t fuckin lucky enough to die… Get your ass back to work!”
I was crying, scared to death and quite sure I would need stitches, when the biggest man I had ever seen walked over and handed me a brand new pair of White Mule leather work gloves.
He was about six two, two hundred and fifty pounds, not a drop of fat with reddish blond hair, a sunburned face and steel grey eyes. He stuck out his huge hand and as he grabbed mine he smiled and said “Hey kid, give those a try… my names Willie!”
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Who Are You?
I was going through my Blog Stats. This tells me who is reading my blog and where they are. Below is the breakdown for the past few days. Historically most of my readers are from the good old USofA. Next it’s Germany then Canada, Australia, Russa, Iraq, Malaysia, Netherlands (I sure this is my friends Sabina and Roland), Japan then Thailand. These are rounded off but in correct order. Germany in number two was a big surprise, I would have thought England or Canada. This week I'm getting new readers from Asia and Eastern Europe.
Okay I’d like to know who you are and where you are from, so if you have the time and the desire to help. Please tell us a little about how you ended up at our site and where you are from. I write on everything from food to low cost building design, with crime stories and poetry thrown in, along with stories about our open mic. What drew you to our site? This will tell me where I’m serving you and not just practicing my writing. Just go to the bottom of this posting and click on comments.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
This is a small chapter in the beginning of my novel, "Willie" it takes place about halfway through my first day I was getting yelled at by my boss Chuck and I had been picking up wire and got a bad cut on my hand. It was an introduction to the main character in the story. This finishes the day
Puke and weeds
An Essay by Daigneault 1174 words
It’s hard to explain what the heat in a South Phoenix steel yard is like. The thousands of pounds of rebar heat up in the sun by June the daily temperature can hover between 115°f and as high as 128°f and the iron works like a heat sink, or a giant solar oven. When the temperature is in the 120°’s which is taken in the shade at the Airport, the temperature in the sun between two eight foot tall piles of rebar that are stacked three feet apart can be in the 130°’s. Combine that, with a heat that’s both humid and greasy at the same time, and the smell of cut steel and diesel. Within a few minutes you are covered with sweat, grease, dirt and the iron flakes that come off the fresh iron. Next there is the iron itself, if it’s been in the yard a while it’s covered with rust it’s heavy and the cut ends are razor sharp. The result is an environment that will smash and crush your fingers constantly cut open your hands, arms and legs, while carrying the bars, if you happen to allow the bars resting on your shoulder to touch your neck, it can blister and even remove skin. All of this in heat that’s like standing in the opening of a dirty oven that’s on high. Not to mention Chuck who seams to take great pleasure in expanding my knowledge of words based in carnal knowledge and feces that are used to describe my lacking efforts. In short, to Chuck, I was a shitty worker and a first class pussy.
But I kept grabbing the biggest bundles of wire that I could pull free. And dragging them over to a dumpster that was headed to a scrap yard.
When you’re new to working in the heat your first thought is to get a drink of water. And when you’re walking over to the water barrel your not carrying a big rusty pile of wire. It’s a little break, or so you think. I noticed the men snickering as I kept going back to the water barrel. But amazingly Chuck wasn’t screaming at me for getting a drink. I soon found out why, after about my 15th cup of water in the first few hours my belly started to cramp. I was now not only cut and filthy but I was full and way too hot and starting to feel sick. By 9am it was around 120°f. The Roach Coach pulled in and blew its horn. All of the men grabbed a bottle or two of Gatorade. I wanted to get some energy so I wisely grabbed a burrito and a coke. Once again I saw the others snickering, but I didn’t get the joke. Feeling like I just survived the Bat tan Death march I choked down the burrito while sitting on a cardboard box that was in a garbage pile that happened to be in the shade of the big crane. That was the shortest 15 minutes of my life. When Chuck told us that the break was over, I was sure he was reading his watch incorrectly. But I grabbed what was left of my Coke and headed back to the wire.
Chuck stopped me and said, “follow me over here with that shovel.” We walked across the yard to a pile of wooden forms, stacked on the other side of the yard. It was an area about 60 feet square, which was waste high in weeds.
“Cut them down and drag them over to the dumpster. When you’re done I want this area completely clean!”
The weeds had grown up in the spring rain and bloomed, then dried in the sun, so they sort of shattered when I hit them with the shovel. The blossoms were covered in stickers. Within a few minutes I was covered in little scratchy pieces of the weeds. They caused me to itch all over my now sweaty torso. This was too much, after a few minutes of scratching I was covered with red hives. I headed over to negotiate with Chuck, on the way I was starting to get dizzy and the men were watching me. As I approached Chuck I tried to say something but instead of words a stream of vomit blew out of my mouth, which about half of landed on my hive, covered belly.
The men howled and I heard one of them say, “Who had 9:45?”
Chuck tried to hide the smile on his face as he said, “Yes?”
“I’m sick,” I said.
“I can’t do anymore work. Can I go see my dad?”
“Sure.” he said. I could hear him snickering as I walked away. I wondered out the big gate and walked down the sidewalk the two blocks to my Dad’s office. I remember thinking that I may not make it, and thinking ‘will anybody find me if I fall down.’ But after about five minutes walking in the sun I came to the old brick office. I walked inside and made my way up the stairs to his office. Walking in I was sunburnt, filthy, cut and covered with hives and fresh coat of vomit. My father’s partner Ray couldn’t hide the humor he found in my condition.
My father looking up and acting surprised said, “ Did they quit early today son?”
“No,” I said, “I got sick!”
“Well why don’t you go in the bathroom and clean up a little.” He said.
His office was an old house and his bathroom had a shower and sink. I took my shirt off and washed my face, hands and arms then I took a paper towel and slowly washed my belly. It was red and swollen. The paper hurt but was cool so I would just press the wet towel against my skin, it was soothing. After a few minutes I washed my shirt. It took several rinsing to get the stickers and smell of puke out. The shirt felt cold but still stung as I put it back on. When I came out of the bathroom I was surprised that Dad was continuing with his work. I just assumed that he would stop what he was doing and take me home… after all I was sick.
He said, “Why don’t you take a few minutes on that couch there.”
Soon I was fast asleep. I slept for about an hour and a half. When I woke up, my Dad asked if I was feeling better.
I told him I was, and he said, “ Then head back to the yard I’ll pick you up when done.”
I remember almost crying walking back to the yard, but when I got back Chuck told me to finish the day picking up wire. I just concentrated on not getting sick and waiting as long as I could for a drink. The next thing I knew my first day was over.