The Warning (*true story 1974)

He said he was a biker but the only motorcycle he owned was the chopped Harley tattooed across his back. He showed it off whenever possible. He called it “a turn on for the bitches.” 

Another turn on was the Bowie Black Handled knife he carried on his belt. He liked to wave it around when he was standing guard over the freshly waxed tiles of the Phone Company’s employee lounge. He’d raise the 9 and 1 half inch blade eye level and tell the snooty phone operators to “stay the fuck off the floor.” When I told him to stop scaring the girls, he said, “What’s the matter, boss, jealous?”

He was an asshole. An asshole who was always bitchin’about somethin’. He’d start bitchin’ the minute he walked into the Bullseye Janitorial Service work yard. He’d bitch about having to punch the Bullseye time clock. He’d bitch about having to load mops, buckets and buffer into the Bullseye number two wax crew van. And, all night long, he’d bitch about having to do grunt work. He’d bitch about the work when, to tell the truth, he did little to no work.He’d help load and unload the van and he’d make sure no women walked on wet floors. But that was it. He’d do nothing else. Nothing else but bitch. He was always bitchin’ about somethin’.

To tell the truth, I was okay with his “no work” ethic. I had quit boozin’ for the umpteenth time and, when I was dryin’ out, I had no use for gung-ho helpers. In the middle of my terrors, I’d rather work alone.

But my boss said, “A crew leader needs a crew. He’s your crew.”

The biker who wasn’t a biker bitchin’ about having to do work he never did was my crew. My crew of one, armed with one thousand one complaints, met me at Bullseye headquarters every workday afternoon. We’d meet, climb into wax crew van number two and ride off to do our route.

At every stop, I did the working…and he did the talking. I never stopped working and he never stopped talking. He never stopped bitchin’. His bitchin’ was becoming a problem. My problem.

He was a lot like the folks who took up all the time at the meetings. The “still suffering.” They took up all the time coz, unlike the folks who”had recovery,” their lives sucked. And they wanted everyone in the meeting room to know the complete  who, what, where, when and why of their pathetic existance. Whenever they could, they’d take up all the time at meetings venting, crying and bitchin’. 

And they were always bitchin’about somethin’.

To tell the truth, the only difference between my crew of one and the most miserable  members occupying”the rooms” was my crew of one continued to drink heavily and without apology. 

I could smell it on him when he’d show up for work and, the first time he pissed me off was when he demanded I stop at a grocery so he could “pick up a six pack for lunch.”

“No fuckin’ way,” I said. “No drinkin’ on the job.”

He pissed me off coz he could get away with drinking. He was  lazy, a creep, a liar, and he  possessed no redeeming qualities but he was still able to drink…and that pissed me off.

And that’s why I let him have it…both barrels and a grenade.

And I guess that’s why, after three days of me taking my sobriety out on him, my no count crew of one failed to show for work.

My boss said, “You’re on you’re own tonight. Take it easy. You’re doing the work of two men.”

I was finished my route two hours earlier than usual. I was happy. My biker who wasn’t a biker was gone. I was alone. I unloaded the van and put away all supplies and clocked out.

An old van that wasn’t a work van was parked in the work yard. There was a pasty faced, long haired man sitting in the driver’s seat. He was the stoner who, at times, gave my former crew of one a ride to work. He stared out his window at me for a couple of seconds then waved me over.

He rolled his window down and coughed. He stopped coughing and said, “I don’t know if I should be sayin’ this. Seein’ how he’s my friend and all.”

“Who’s your friend?’

“You know. Vick.”

“Vick?”

“The dude who works with you.”

“His name’s Vick?”

“That’s the dude. My friend. Anyway, I don’t know if I should be sayin’ this…”

“You said that already.”

“Oh, yeah, well, anyway, I think you ought to know Vick’s got plans to kill you.”

I laughed and said, “You’re ripped.”

“Believe what you will. But, he’s been talkin’ all last night and today. Eatin’ speed and plannin’ your death.

He’s comin’ back to work tomorrow and he’s gonna beg your forgiveness. Then, he’s gonna work his ass off, man. And, then, he’s gonna walk home with you coz he knows you pass Big Top Bar and Liquor. That’s when this whore is gonna come outta the donut shop next door, serve Vick a big dish of tongue and say, ‘Gotta a dime bag and another girl for your friend. Let’s party.’

Vick figures you’ll say yes, if not to the smoke, to the whore and they’ll take you to a flop upstairs over the bar and that other sweet piece will be there and, once you start gettin’ it on, he’ll get behind you and, with that blade of his, cut your throat and stab you a hundred times at least coz he’s really pissed, man, pissed at you.

Then, he and his whores are gonna take your body parts out to the high dessert where they’ll bury them deep so no one will find you. Pretty smooth, huh?”

“Pretty smooth,” I said. “Thanks for the warning.”

I wasn’t scared. Weed talk. Crank riffin’.. Wasn’t gonna happen. I was tired so I went home and slept the sleep of a dried out wino wanting to drink.

The next day, I went to a meeting. Then, I went to work. Vick was standing by number two van when I walked into the yard. The van was loaded and ready to go and, that night, Vick worked his ass off.

Everything happened that night exactly the way Vick’s stoner friend said it would happen. Everything except the part that had me going upstairs and getting hacked to death. That didn’t happen coz, by the time that donut shop whore’s tongue was leaving Vick’s mouth, I was across the busy Main Street haulin’ ass for home.

* Business names changed coz I like my names for them better

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