Archive for : January, 2015

Good Times

My mom grew up in the depression and was ten years old when it ended. She was a depression kid. I have said these words many times while exchanging stories at parties, but it was just recently that I really understood the meaning of these words.

My mother lived with her grandparents, my great-grandparents. My grandmother, was divorced, from an alcoholic husband and, because of the economy, was forced to live with her parents. My mom’s mother worked at the local match company to bring in money for the family. My mother’s uncles spent many days and nights under that one roof where they would all combine their earnings and have one great meal. As time passed, the uncles married and started their own families, but the gatherings didn’t stop, the people grew in numbers.

While my mother was growing up, an only child, she was particularly close with her first cousin, Roger known as Butch, another only child. They spent many days and nights together, growing up close enough to be siblings. My mom loved telling the story of Butch coming home from school, to Nanny and Elt’s, short for Elton, ravished. He would drink a half gallon of milk and eat an entire loaf of toasted bread. The average income was $1,800.00, a loaf of bread $.08 and a gallon of milk was $.23.

Mom explained that two hours later Butch would eat a complete dinner, all the while keeping a great physique. That might be because he had chores, no television, no video games, and no computer. His metabolism probably ran high from playing outside with his friends. Roller skates cost $2.00, balsa wood air planes cost $.59, Texas Ranger cowboy suit cost $4.49, and Pedal Cars cost somewhere between $3.89 and $13.95. I doubt he owned the top of the line, in fact, most of his toys were probably hand-me-downs from relatives. That was common place between families.

By today’s standards, my ancestors were very poor and yet story after story never depicted such a thing. When I was very young I remember sitting on the porch swing with my great grandfather and listening to him whistle to the red birds. This peaceful experience could go on for hours. My great grandparents, grandparents and parents were avid card players. They went to sewing circles, tractor pulls, picnics and lots of family gatherings. The stories that came from past years were pleasant and often funny. It might have been poor times but good times as well.

Unfortunate Circumstances

Detective Patterson turned the digital recorder on and stated the time, the date, his full name and mine. I’m thinking this shouldn’t take too long. Once Patterson hears my side of the story I’ll be heading out of Florida.

“We’ve only known each other for six months, but we fell in love right away and got married,” I explain.

Patterson pushed the recorder closer to me but didn’t look up from his notepad. He made notes while I talked.

“Johnny was everything I was looking for in a man; good looking, sexy, and smart. A real good thinker. He was always finding ways for us to make a buck. We’ve spent the past couple of months travelling around, looking for the perfect place to settle. Maybe buy a house and start a family. When we got to Daytona we thought this is it. This is where we’ll live forever. The weather’s great, much better than where I grew up in Ohio. Hey, you gotta cigarette?” I ask.

Patterson never said a word, just took a Marlboro pack out of this coat pocket and set it on the table. I take a cigarette and he lights it for me with his disposable. I take a long drag and it calms me. The last twenty-four hours have been hectic nightmare and I wish I could sit quiet for awhile. But that isn’t going to happen any time soon so I press on.

“Anyway,” I continue, “we get to Daytona and the first two nights are like the honeymoon we never had. We get a room at The Seagull Motel, walk the beach during the day, and eat dinner at the Oceanside Restaurant. Afterwards we head to the lounge. We meet a guy in the lounge who keeps buying us drinks.”

“You get a name?”

“Walker, Mike Walker. He’s a real charmer,” I say sarcastically. “Always using four letter words, like they were adjectives or something. This blanking car went blankety-blank miles an hour in one blanking minute. You know the type. He stays with us at the bar until closing and after that I figure I’d never see the guy again.”

“Let’s get to that. Tell me about the next night.”

I finish my cigarette. “You got anywhere I can put this?”

Patterson walks over to the two-way mirror and brings back a cup from the ledge. He puts it on the table and I throw my spent cigarette inside. Old coffee fizzles out the flame.

“Go on, Lisa” he says.

“We just get done eating fast-food and beers in the motel room when Johnny says we’re going to Mike’s place on the beach to see fireworks. I hadn’t seen the beach at night, so it sounds good to me. Mike’s so-called house on the beach turns out to be a shack on stilts. There’s a bunch of them in a row, you know.”

“South of the city, near the warehouse district?”

“Yeah, that’s them.”

“What happened next?”

“Johnny backs the car into Mike’s carport, underneath the house. I ask what he’s doing, because that’s where the homeowner usually parks. He tells me Mike told him to park there. I ask where’s Mike’s car. Johnny just shrugs his shoulders. By this time something seems peculiar to me, but I decide not enough for me to say anything. As soon as Johnny steps out of

the car Mike opens my door, holds a gun in my face and tells me to get out of the car. He’s yelling, get out, get out. Johnny’s yelling back at Mike that it’s okay. ‘She can go too’, Johnny screams back. Mike pushes the gun to my neck and grabs my arm and tells me to get out. So I did. Johnny’s yelling for me to get in the back seat of the car, but by this time two other guys are in the back.

“Big guys, tough looking guys. Now Johnny’s getting upset. ‘Get in the car Lisa,’ he demands. He’s shouting at me, which freaks me out, because Johnny never shouts at me. I start to back up, away from the car and my back ends up against one of the stilts. Mike gets in the car and tells Johnny to get in, but Johnny starts after me. Mike turns his gun on Johnny and yells for him to get in the blanking car. But Johnny doesn’t want to leave me there. So he’s yelling, Mike’s yelling, I freak and take off running. Johnny heads out after me. I’ve never seen Johnny like this so I keep running away from him, as fast as I can.

“Mike starts the car and comes after us. Johnny’s screaming for me to stop so he can explain. The last thing I see is Mike cutting the car in front of Johnny. He points the gun at him and orders him to get in. I didn’t wait around to see what happened next. I ran until I couldn’t run anymore.”

“That’s the last time you saw Johnny or Mike?”

I hesitate on how to answer Patterson now. I want him to be sympathetic.

“Not exactly.”

“Continue.” Patterson continues to write and stare at his notepad.

“I walk back to the Seagull Motel to wait for Johnny.”

“Why didn’t you call the police then?”

“I was about to when the phone rings. It’s Johnny. He says he’s alright and that I should stay at the motel until he gets back so he can explain.”

“Did he? Explain?” Patterson didn’t move a muscle, just kept making notes.

I’m feeling tense so I ask for another smoke. Patterson hooks me up and I continue.

“Johnny came in around 2 a.m. He’s all jazzed up. He apologizes for not telling me what he was planning, but says Mike swore him to secrecy. It seems Mike used to be some sort of big shot in town. Owned a couple of lucrative strip clubs. Some of the residents complained about the nature of the business and that’s when a city councilman started making trouble for Mike.”

“You get a name?”

“Yeager, I think. Yeah, Councilman Yeager. It seems this Yeager makes so much trouble for Mike that Mike is forced to shut down. But after the clubs had been closed a couple of months they re-open under new management, the good councilman’s management. This ticked Mike off and he decides to take back what’s his.”

“How does Johnny fit in?”

“Mike was rounding up guys to help him. Johnny’s always exaggerating shit and he tells Mike he has a black belt in martial arts when he really only knows a few moves. Mike offers him a job. They were going to hit the two clubs and Johnny’s cut would have been five grand.”

“Tell me Mike’s plan.”


January 2015