Redwood Nine Ch. 13byRoyceConnors©
Ch.13 Peace, Love, Blood
Tom was good to his word, at finding an engine at Gus' yard. Clay threw some plywood in the bed and picked it up with him. Three hours after bringing it back, Moon went in and started it up. The engine had almost half the mileage, than the old one, giving them hope, the bus would be running for many more years to come. Moon promised to come by often for servicing and making sure they stayed in touch with one another. Moon and JT took it for a test run and also used the time to share some final thoughts with one another. Moon extended an open invitation to him, to come anytime he wished. JT was happy to know there was a place he could go, when dark skies were threatening and he needed shelter. The drive ended and Moon was very pleased with everything. He felt assured in his heart, that everyone who rode in it, would arrive safely at their destination.
Jake gave JT and Piney the afternoon off, so they could help them tear down the site and help them get packed up. They'd become close, as friends, sharing many good times together after work, sitting under the stars and enjoying the chance to share thoughts freely. Both groups melded well when they were together and enjoyed the time to bond, many becoming sad at their departure. One had the need to make a decision at that point and looked at both sides she had to choose from. Ann-Marie looked at Wally and her eyes welled with tears, ones she shed for her choice of leaving him. Her choice was to become Azure Cloud and live a life of free love with her spirit twin, Golden. She stood beside her and held her hand, both of them glowing happily in the sunlight. Wally couldn't deny her, her happiness, clearly finding what her heart was looking for. He felt the pangs of hurt in his heart, that he wouldn't enjoy her company each night, but he knew it was selfish to feel like that, knowing she would never truly be happy with him.
Her bags were packed and she was ready to say goodbye to everyone and the life she knew. She looked at the office, hoping to see Marlene one last time, maybe just to thank her for opening her up to this part of herself, maybe just to be with her physically one more time and feel her body next to hers. It never came to be, as she climbed in with the others and the bus started up and ran smoothly. Peace signs were flashed back and forth between them, hands held high, smiles large and bright on their faces. The radio came on in the middle of Eric Burden's, San Franciscan Nights and Moon turned it up, filling the van with the sound of their city.
The week had gone well, work was coming in and business was getting better, the faster they worked. Jake took off on Thursday, saying he had an appointment in town. He never said what it was about, but Jake appeared to be pleased about going. Friday saw a re-appearance of Moon and Spirit in the micro bus, on their way back to San Francisco to pick up the last of their things from Moon's apartment. They would be heading back through later in the day and hoped to meet up for a bit. JT said he'd love to get together, but they had a run to do and hoped they'd catch up soon. Saturday was a building day and one that everyone was happy to work hard at. Despite the hours of breaking concrete with a sledge hammer and shovelling away the debris, they had all the trenches dug and sat drinking beer, taking a well earned break.
The plumber was installing the last section of sewer pipe, an elbow joint with a flanged end, where the common bathroom would go. The guys had smashed the concrete and dug a trench to the main line for each sewer line they needed. In JT's room, the pilfered toilet and sink were being installed by the guys, as they tightened down the nuts and screws. With everything all connected and ready, the plumber had Otto turn the water main on and waited for the water to fill the pipes. The sound of it could be heard running all around them, as the water filled every space it could. When the sounds stopped, the plumber went to the sink and slowly turned the cold tap on and released the air pressure that had built up. The spurting water came out and finally ran clear of air. He turned it off and did the same to the hot water line. He gave the toilet a flush and checked for leaks, proclaiming it ready for use. When they had the floor done properly, he told them to replace the gasket and it would be alright.
They hadn't procured another sink and toilet yet for the common bathroom, but Tom had taken care of that end of things and he and Wally were picking up a set. Clay had gone along with them in his grandfather's pick up, the objective to obtain the bar and pool tables that were available. Lenny rode with him and they took the ride time, to get to know each other better. Lenny asked him if he had decided on what he would do on his tour.
"You figured on what you're going to do over there next year? Jumping is a helluva lot better than humping."
"Yeah, that much I got figured out. I'm still not sure on the jumping part yet. Heights aren't one of my favourite things."
"Don't worry, Clay. You join up with the Sky Rangers, they'll get you over your fear of heights. It's funny how the bullets flying all around you, tend to make you forget about falling from the sky and you can't wait to get down."
"Great, that makes me feel so much better about it."
Lenny laughed and clapped Clay on his shoulder, as they pulled in front of the closed bar. Tom took them around the back, where he jimmied the lock and they went in, The place looked like hell inside, an obvious closing party taking place, before it was abandoned. The bar was cleared off of empty bottles and dust and they looked it over. It was in decent shape and not too badly worn. Wally looked to see how it was mounted and took a screwdriver from his back pocket and began loosening the screws. Once it was free, they lifted it up and hauled it to the back door and outside. The pool tables were okay, no rips in the table's surfaces, but it was badly stained from spilled drinks and ashes from cigarettes. They unbolted the top from the legs and carried the top outside and leaned it up against the bar. The did the same to the other one and Wally pocketed the bolts and washers in his jacket. They carried it out and the legs, then Clay went to get the truck and Tom stopped him.
"We have something else we need first, remember?"
The guys followed him back inside and into the washroom. He stopped and pointed with both hands at what they needed to get. They looked and realized the need for another couple of sinks and toilets, despite the deplorable state they were in now. Lenny used his foot to flush both toilets, then Wally took a pair of pliers out and began loosening nuts and bolts to lines, as well as the water inlet on the first toilet. Several times he got up and let out his breath and gasped in another, before going back and finishing the job.
He was more than happy to be finished with them and moved to the sinks and started on them. Lenny strong-armed the toilet off its base and tipped the thing over, letting the water and whatever waste and refuse was still in it, pour out onto the floor. The stench had complaints coming from the others and Lenny laughed.
"Fuckers get all bent out of shape over a little stink like this? You guys ain't smelled nothing yet, till you smell the insides of a man all blown open."
"Fuck off, Lenny. That's gross, man. That stuff is just fucking awful, dude, c'mon."
Wally's words were commonly felt by the others, as they covered their noses and mouths, fending off the fetid smell as best as they could. Lenny carried the unit outside and set it beside the other things, then went back in. The other three came out with two sinks, a paper towel dispenser and a wall mounted soap dispenser, they obviously never bothered unscrewing from the wall. Wally looked at him as they passed, a snide look on his face.
"The toilet's for you, shithead."
Lenny laughed loudly, not bothered by the insult at all. He went in and emptied the contents on the floor again and picked the porcelain commode up and carried it out to the other one. He put it down and looked at the other guys just standing there and not moving. He looked around where they were looking and noticed the two black guys standing there at the corner of the building, handguns pointed at them. The meaner looking one spoke, using his gun to point at them.
"What are you guys doing here?"
Tom figured it was his place to speak up, seeing that it was him that had them in this situation.
"Hey man, we have permission from Marco to take this stuff. Who are you?"
"I'll tell you who I am. I'm the guy with the fucking gun pointed at your face and I say you don't have permission to take shit from here, it's our shit."
Lenny started to laugh uproariously, like he had just heard the funniest thing ever.
"What the fuck you laughing at, asshole?"
Through the hitches between laughs, Lenny tried to explain.
"Dude, we didn't take your shit, we only took the toilets. We left your shit on the floor."
Despite the threat of death, the others couldn't help but catch the humour and laughed as well. At first it was mostly snickering, but it soon turned into belly laughs, making the hoods look at them strangely.
"What the fuck you talking about?"
"Hey, go look for yourself. We told the guy we needed a couple of shitters and sinks for our clubhouse, he says sure, help yourself. You want your shitters back, that's cool, here they are. Up to you to put the shit and piss back in, if you want it the way it was."
The two black teens looked at the two toilets sitting in front of them and the stench that was coming off of them. Neither had any objection to them leaving their presence. The one who seemed to be in charge, moved closer to Lenny and pointed the gun at his head.
"What else you think you're taking?"
"Just the sinks, the bar, the two pool tables and that's it, nothing else we want."
The leader of the two, looked at the tables and the condition of the bar, then looked at his buddy behind him. He turned back to Lenny and squared him up.
"Gimme a hundred and it's yours."
Lenny laughed, as he looked at him, then in trained combat fashion, he disarmed the young man and pointed the gun between his eyes, pressing the barrel hard into the skin, making sure he knew what his position was. Lenny knew this one was subdued and looked with certain death in his eyes, at the other one.
"Put the fucking gun on the ground and kick it over. Do it, or I empty your buddy's brains onto the pavement for you to see, then I'm going to shoot your fucking balls off and let you bleed out. Drop out it, now!"
The immediate threat to his buddy's life and his own, was more valid than their own was to them, so he slowly lowered it and dropped it to the pavement. He kicked it towards Clay, who picked it up and walked with right back to him and held it to his head, the same way Lenny was doing.
"Now, who the fuck are you assholes?"
"This is our turf, man. Anything that's here is our shit."
"Looks like it's our shit now, right?"
The black youth flinched, as Lenny was holding the gun to his head and pressed it in harder, making his point. He nodded agreement to him and waited.
"You still haven't said who you are. What's your name, Sambo?"
The eyes shot back at him, hearing the insulting slur.
"What? Don't like being called, Sambo? Alright, what the fuck is your name, nigger and no more bullshit."
The eyes shot pure hatred at Lenny, but it didn't phase him in the least, having seen the same look dozens of times in Vietnam, on the faces of prisoners he had questioned. He smacked the side of the gun off the back of the black teen's head, letting him know he had the power to do it and get away with it. Lenny spoke quietly now, in almost a friendly tone.
"I'm so sorry. I didn't realize you were a retarded nigger and don't understand English. I want to know what your name is, boy and why you're pissing me off and trying to ruin my day?"
The teen toned down his emotional responses, knowing it would only result in further beatings from Lenny. He tried to look back at his friend, but Lenny held him fast and made him pay attention to him.
"My name is Bennie."
"Thank you, Bennie, nice to meet you. Now, why are you making me have a bad day?"
"We're supposed to get that shit. Fat fuck that owned the place, owed us and never paid up. We were taking what's supposed to be ours, man. You white boys are fucking us over now and we're still not getting paid back what's owed to us. Who's given who, a bad day, whitey?"
Lenny never took offence at the slurs shot back at him, as he looked at his opponent.
"Well excuse me. No one told me you had rights to any of this. When I went in, I didn't see any notice posted and I don't see anything out here either, so how am I supposed to know it's yours? I got a need for those shitters and sinks, don't suppose they were high on your list of things to take, were they?"
Bennie looked at Lenny, seeing he wasn't trying to be mean to him, just trying to maintain control and talk to him. He eased up on his stance and backed down his aggression towards him and felt an ease in return. Lenny lowered the gun from between his eyes, but kept it pointed in his direction just in case.
"No, don't want no shitters, man."
"Tell you what, Bennie, here's what I'm going to do and try to make this a good day for all of us."
Bennie was amenable to listening to a deal that ended the threat and things could move forward.
"We really want all this shit. We need it for our clubhouse and that means more than your debt with Marco, to us. You said you wanted a hundred for all of this and as you can already see, I ain't happy with paying that kind of money, for something I already have for free. You can understand that, right?"
Bennie nodded, but kept waiting to hear where he would be walking away happy at the end.
"You don't really need any of this shit, do you? You were just hoping to bust it out of there and make some money off it, right?"
"Yeah, yeah, that's all we want, man. Just make some money, so we can live, you know."
Lenny could see this was more an act of desperation, instead of a turf related issue.
"What do you usually sell to make money? What kind of shit do get your hands on?"
"What you want to know for? None of your business what we do?"
"Bennie, Bennie, I'm trying to help you out here. I'm asking, because I might have something for you to replace the money you lost in this deal, just give me a chance and listen."
Bennie tried sizing up Lenny to weigh his words and see where he was coming from and if it was some kind of trick. He could see from the others, that there was a definite reduction of threat to them, from their captors, giving him reason to believe his words were true.
"We try to score shit and sell it cheap, you know. Find a warehouse, or a truck with some good shit in it and take as much as we can."
"Tom, I think we have another source of distribution for your business. Now Bennie, I'm going to put this gun down and my buddy over there is going to do the same and I want you both to sit and listen to me and my friend here, because we want to make you your money back and a lot more after that, are you in?"
It took nothing for Bennie to know that he was being offered something far better than a bullet in the head and agreed, turning to his friend and seeing a concurrence from him to accept the offer. Lenny released the hammer and put the safety back on, then held it out to Bennie, who looked at it and saw the trust being showed to accept it and call a cease to hostilities between them. He tentatively took the gun and slid it into his pants at the back and waited for what came next. Clay followed Lenny's lead and gave his captive back his gun and went back and stood beside his brothers.
"You guys like smoking grass? Don't mind smoking it with a bunch of whiteys?"
"Nah, nah man, it's cool. Look, sorry about the shit earlier man, you know how it is? Just making a dollar to live another day, you know."
"Yeah, yeah, I get it, Bennie. Sorry for the names I used. I knew you guys weren't looking to cause trouble with us and figured you were just looking for money. We all are, fuck, that's why we're taking shit like this, brother. We can't afford fuck all either. Look, might as well put this bar to some good use. Let's just stand around like we know each other and smoke some grass, listen to what we have to offer and if you don't like what we have to say, you can leave at any time, but I think you're going to like what we have for you."
Bennie looked around at the guys at the bar, none of them showing any animosity towards him, or his buddy, Lamont. Baggies were on the bar and joints were being rolled, letting him know that things were, as they were supposed to be, according to Lenny.
"So let's start this off better and do this right. Bennie, I'm Lenny, that clean cut, college boy is Clay, the guy with the fine herb, we're about to smoke, that's Wally. This guy here on this side of me, this is the guy you really want to know. This is Tom, or as he's known around town, Uncle Tom."
Bennie's eyes went wide in surprise, at hearing his name.
"Shit, dude. I heard of this guy. You're like some kind of magician, or something. I hear you can get into any place you want and get anything at all. My cousin told me all kinds of stuff about you, man. Says you're the best in the business at this shit."
Tom looked humbled by the thoughts about him, never really realizing how he was thought of, on he street.
"Who's your cousin?"
"Randal, has a set out the west end he runs with, Bay Black Brothers, they call themselves the Three B's."
"I know him, Sold him some electronics and stuff, I found in a container."
"Yeah, yeah, that's him, man. That's my cousin. Shit, dude, Tom, right?"
"Yeah, Uncle, if you please."
"Right, Uncle Tom, dude, my cousin has been looking for you. He's been freaking out, you know? Made a shitload of money off of it and wanted to do another deal, but you disappeared and no one knew how to get a hold of you."
Tom smiled broadly, so did the others, finding out their former foes, were actually allies looking to hook up again.
"And you almost shot the poor fucker instead. Wouldn't that just fuck up your cousin, man?"
"Shit yeah. Hey, really, we're sorry about the guns and shit earlier, alright? Like we said, we're just looking to make a buck of our own."
"Bennie, I told you were going to go away happy, didn't I?"
"Yeah, you did, Lenny."
"Well, let's finish these joints and listen up, because this is your lucky day, brother. Your cousin will be shitting himself happy, once you talk to him."
"Cool, bro', you white dudes are alright, man. You're like a bike gang, right?"
"We like to think of ourselves as a motorcycle club. We're just enthusiasts enjoying a simple pleasure and causing no one any grief."
"What's the club called?"
"Sons of Anarchy."
"Club, yeah, right."
Lenny heard the sarcasm in Bennie's voice and read it on his face and laughed, getting everyone laughing and the atmosphere at the back of the closed down bar, became jovial and friendly, despite the ever-present odour of human waste from the toilets, lingering in he air. The ideas were discussed and after another half hour of talking and another joint, Bennie was hugging Lenny like a brother, as was Lamont. The barrier of racial separation was broken, setting up a partnership of sorts between them, that offered a very sizable increase in the personal wealth of those involved.
What had started out between them as hostilities and a possibility of death, turned into a kinship of sorts, where instead of hatred and animosity between them, there was a growing respect and kindred feelings forming between them. Tom said he'd be in touch with Bennie soon and sit down with his cousin, Randal to discuss the terms and conditions. With the set up he had now, he could conduct his business in a faster and larger scale, as long as he had a way to move the goods he acquired. Randal had a decidedly large customer base to rely on, making him a valuable partner to have. Consumer goods were big ticket items in the hoods and ghettos of city cores and out lying areas and they had an in already to the business and clientele.