July 13, 2011 by David Gillaspie
INSPIRED BY REAL EVENTS
The job had lots of names, as many as the sort of people doing it.
Janitor. Caretaker. Night watchman.
People workinig it were drunks, bums, and lay abouts saving for their next smoke, drink, or needle.
But they showed up for work; that’s what counts. Except this particular job had more to it.
No sweeping. No washing walls. The job was getting the building to the next day in the same shape as the day before.
Nothing complicated, right?
The man hiring didn’t mind someone with a concealed weapons permit. He said he carried, too.
“It’s downtown,” he said. That made a difference.
The idea was to walk around the block and keep people from settling into the alley, or the stairway, for the night. After a few years we all knew each other.
You don’t need a gun to make a point, but knowing it’s there makes it easier to talk to some people.
One night a couple of guys strolled down the sidewalk with a bottle of sparkling wine. They stopped at my building, making the moves you’ve seen a hundred times, one guy’s the lookout while the other takes a leak.
Then they usually change roles.
The signs were obvious enough to chase them off. Instead of leaving, they got some attitude and raised their wine bottle like they might swing it, or throw it.
These weren’t bad guys. They had a mouth, one more than the other, but no worse than any other drunk caught with their pecker in his hand. He was probably more embarrassed than anything.
After the bottle and the words got more hostile, I put my gun in my hand where they could see it hanging beside me.
They backed up a little, but didn’t leave. Each of them wanted to be The Man, but that job was already taken and I wasn’t giving it to them.
My boss showed up about the time the guys’ mood took a darker turn. He saw my gun and gave a shrug to say, “You know what you’re doing,” and tapped his heater leg.
The guys pointed their wine bottle like a cannon.
“The party’s over, fellas,” I said. “All the problems went away, like you’re gonna do.”
“No problem, man, gun man. Pulling that shit on us. That make you feel like a man?”
“Let’s get this over with, guys. Beat it,” my boss said. “I’m going home.”
“No one’s stopping you, Sleeping Beauty.”
“Do I look like I give a damn if you’re tired, that I need to know you’re going home? There’s a man with a gun right there, right there beside you.”
“This man? This gun? This is my building, son. When you piss on my building and come back, it makes me think you might piss on it again. Is that the plan, big pisser?”
My boss didn’t calm them down.
“Here’s what’s happening, Big Man with the Big Building. You own this shit hole? I can buy it and tear it down. I can make that phone call. Think I can’t? Give me a reason. Yeah? Give me a reason.”
The other one raised the bottle. My gun hand came up a little. My boss took a knee like he was tying the shoe on his gun ankle.
A siren blast echoed off the bricks, blue light reflections flashing in the glass.
The guy with the bottle tossed it.
Police swarmed in to interview all of us.
Turns out the guys were who I thought they were, a couple of real prizes. I didn’t get arrested and charged right away, that was later.
(Part II Coming Soon To A Blog Near You)