Ton Ton Miami

I have not met many men or women, I’ve been afraid of, but there have been a few.

I’d been in Florida going on 4 weeks. It was supposed to be 2. The client and I had been up and down the state, driving all day, then stopping for the night.

I knew the Postal authorities were “looking” for my client. A source had told about the 77 count indictment from California, the warrants issued, and the visit and attempt to arrest at the Diamond Head residence.

Since I didn’t have any “official” notice, we were careful not to contact our attorney; I wasn’t going to give him up until I had too. He appeared so close to getting this 7.5 million dollar transfer. That would have paid everything, and everybody, including me and my security team. The last was very important to me.

It was our second time in Miami. We had a few hours to kill before his next business call with the mysterious “Claude”. “Claude” was supposedly a banker from London, brokering a deal with my client and someone in the government of the Bahamas.

I had seen numerous prior bank transfers for hundreds of thousands of dollars in the client’s office. Some of them were from a “Seven Oaks” bank of London and also large transfers from several U.S. National labor unions. I didn’t realize the reason my client wanted, and needed body guards, was it all a scam, elaborate, but a confidence scam just the same. We stopped at my request at a huge Miami gun shop that advertised an indoor range with lanes for rent. I needed some recreational relief. Shooting is always good for that.

I had been carrying a “Star” PD, .45 cal., a lightweight pistol the whole time. Since we were mostly in the car I wasn’t risking too much exposure, well except for a mugging break-up.

So I put the gun, unloaded in a briefcase and we went into the gun shop. I was in heaven; this place was like a Sears but all guns. I could have just walked around for hours.

I noticed that there seemed to be a huge number of nickel-plated and engraved guns in the showcases. What I would have normally referred to as pimp guns. But I also noticed no one but the client and I were speaking English. So I kept my mouth shut.

We were waiting for the “Range Master”, really just another salesman, to open the door for us when I noticed the 6 guys.

They were just talking with another salesman but these guys were hard to ignore. Six men, all within 4 or 6 inches of the same height, all very-physically fit, all wearing the exact same suit, tie, shirt, and sunglasses. The only difference was their color. It ranged from light coffee to dark black. It was then I heard them speaking a strange sort of French-Spanish; a strange combination.

But our “Range Master” arrived so we went downstairs. My client balked at going to the range area. He finally admitted that he didn’t like guns. In fact, he was afraid of them. He tells me he’ll wait upstairs for me. With all the people around, what the hell, I went downstairs.

I bought a couple of boxes of ammo from the shop, paid the range/target fee, and picked a lane pretty much at the far end of the range.

I had been firing only a few minutes when the alert lights started flashing yellow. I finished my string, drop the mag, and cleared my weapon. I took off my hearing protectors and looked to the other end of the range in time to see the 6 men from upstairs enter the range as the range lights started blinking red.

The salesman with them set up 3 targets, 3 stepped forward and 3 stepped back. They all took off their matching sunglasses and I got my first look at their eyes.

I started this by saying I’ve not met many men or women that frightened me. These men frightened me.  Looking into those eyes was terrifying. There was absolutely no life behind those eyes. They were, totally dead. There is no other way to put it.

I realized the range light was yellow and quickly put my hearing protection back on just as the first 3 started firing.

They were good. They were using Browning “Hi-Power” 9mm pistols. And they were cutting the targets to ribbons. And every shot was fired without any expression. No smiles, no grins for a good shot, nothing; nothing but center mass and face shots; over and over and over.

After the first group finished 2 or 3 13 round magazines, the salesman remounted new targets and the second group took the firing line and repeated the process with the same results.

Without firing another shot I packed up, turned in the ear muffs and walked out of the range and back upstairs.

The client was waiting for me as was the salesman who had taken me down stairs.

As they both realized I had not fired very much ammo. I looked at the salesman and asked him about the “suits”.

The shadow of fear that passes across his face was obvious. He shook his head and muttered;

“Ton Ton Macoute”, Haiti’s secret police.

He continued that every few months some would come to the store with all the proper documents to buy several hundred thousand rounds of ammunition, and almost always used the range while there.

They couldn’t read or write but could kill you without blinking. “Papa Doc” Duvalier ran Haiti with an iron fist. To them, Duvalier was the embodiment of Baron Samudi, the head of the voodoo gods. To the Ton Ton, he was a god.

Duvalier would take children from the streets, indoctrinate them into the voodoo religion, and make them his “secret police”. His son, “Baby Doc”, wore the mantle of leader for a few years but was thrown out, to the French Rivera.

They weren’t “secret”, nor were they police.

But they were the most frightening men I ever saw.

Back To Work..Soapbox…

Well, after one month and seven days after being hit, I’m released to return to full work. Hip Hip Hooray!!!!!

So far his insurance company has provided me with nill, nada, and nothing. Medical bills are well over $18,000.00 and I’ve  received nothing indicating any of them have been paid. I did speak to one of their agents, and she was truly good at not answering questions. Big surprise there.

Restarted working out, and stretching every day so either the numbness will go away, or it won’t.

Hey, how about some headlines ripped (?) from the news.

Man Batters Boyfriend With Singing Fish.

Jeff Foxworthy, is that you?

Taliban Claims U.S. Violated Free Speech During Ceasefire.

Wait, they have free speech?? Does bombing the crap out of them violate their speech?

Jodie Foster Would Rather Have Robots Own Firearms.

Lets see: Taxi Driver, lots of guns; Catchfire, lots of guns; The Silence of the Lambs, Foster using a gun; Maverick, lots of gun play; Panic Room, Foster uses a gun; The Brave One, vengeance and guns; Carnage, revenge and guns; Elysium, elites and guns; Money Monster; revenge and explosives.  I think I’d rather have robots own Jodie Foster. I wonder how many security agents Foster uses. At least a robot wouldn’t be such a hypocrite.

Maybe I ought to write a real gun movie. You know, where the bad guys have the guns, the good guys are victims, the cops are lazy and do nothing, the good guy does something  in revenge, gets arrested, gets bankrupted by legal fees, and then goes to jail form the rest of his life. You know, real to life.

 

 

 

 

Goodnight Mister Pink

I hope everyone liked that little piece of fiction last week. Every now and then I’ll be putting up some fiction. But lets face it, true stories are often much more fun. Let’s face it; if these stories do nothing else, you have to admit I’m a bit off center.

The weekend Julie and I were in Vegas for the Radio Music Awards, and my chance at a million dollars, we had that first night all to ourselves.

The distances between casinos in Las Vegas are deceiving. They are really much further apart than it looks. We found our way onto the strip, from the Aladdin and headed for the lights of town. And after 30 to 40 minutes walking, we started getting tired. But we persevered.

We got to Boardwalk, New York New York, The Excalibur, and of course The Flamingo. We did the usual tourist thing watching the people and weirds and gazing in awe at the Casinos themselves. We’d drop a couple of bucks at each place and then move on.We had a ball.

Finally, about 3:30 in the morning, actually the next day, we decided we were hungry and stopped at a little dinner on the strip. We both wanted something more than a sandwich and this place appeared clean and the menu looked pretty good so we went on inside.

We received a warm welcome from the waitress who sat us at a window table next to a big corner booth. We ordered our meals and just started to relax when a large group of young people sat down in the corner booth. I say young; they were all in their mid to late 20’s and obviously students.

Julie and I were just sitting, talking quietly, and finishing our dinner when the students began a discussion on Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs”. There was a divide among the group of 5 men and 3 women. Three of the men and two of the women were of the opinion “Dogs” was the greatest heist movie ever filmed, and the others didn’t share that opinion.

The discussion was spirited, entertaining, and really quite well thought out on both sides. The arguments were clear and the points brought up were absolutely relevant to the topic and conversation. I listened as it was not hard to hear as we were the only two groups in the place. But these folks knew that movie line by line. Even the ones that didn’t think it was great.

Julie and I finished and decided to take a cab back to the Aladdin so when I paid the waitress I asked if she could call us a cab to which she replied it was no problem as they had several cabs that would come right away.

The “Dogs” conversation hit one of those momentary pauses that occur, just as Julie and I stood up. I turned to the group, stuck out my hand to one of the movie defenders and very softly said; “Good Might Mister Black” and we shook hands as he looked at me with a questioning look.  I turned to one of the young ladies and said, in the same soft voice; “Good Night Miss White” and we too shook hands, only now she seemed to start to pick up on the joke and reference.

I then turned to the leader of the Anti’Dogs group, again put out my hand, and said in that quiet voice; “Good Night Mister Pink” and we shook hands and it was just about then everyone got the joke and the reference to the movie.

Miss White and Mister Black were laughing out loud and Mister Pink jumped right in with a line from the movie, “Hey, why am I Mister Pink?”  So I responded with the movies next line, “Because you’re a faggot” and the entire table collapsed into unrestrained laughter. I shook everyone’s hand, introduced Julie and myself, apologized to Mister Pink for the “faggot” comment and they all said “no, no, no man. It’s part of the movie”. And everyone collapsed again with laughter.

As Julie and I walked out to the waiting cab, I heard the leader of the pro-dogs tell everyone else, “See I told you it’s the greatest movie ever made. They’ve even seen it in Hawaii”.

I resisted the urge to respond. Hell, one great set up a night is enough.

The Building On The Corner

Fiction. ….Maybe….

Buildings are inanimate; they have no life, no thoughts. They are neither good, nor bad. But can they be evil?

It was an ordinary job. Lay out the steel, and pour the concrete. Probably take 4 or 5 days at the most. Then starts the high work, floor by floor.

Dave was an old hand at laying foundations. He’d been doing it for 27 years, very since he got out of high school and had married his high school sweetheart. He served two tours in Viet Nam without a scratch. Her dad got him in the union and Dave had never regretted a day. Except the day Mary had died 2 years ago. Dave was on a foundation job that day.

Mary had been at the sink washing the dishes when it happened. Doctors said the stroke was so massive she died almost instantly. She didn’t feel a thing, they said. They said.

Dave didn’t know that for sure. He always suspected. Maybe that was on his mind that early summer day. They had just started pouring the deepest point of the foundation Fresh concrete, 21 feet deep, was being poured when Dave turned and struck his hand on a piece of the foundation steel. It wasn’t bad, just a deep gouge really. But lots of fresh hot, red blood gushed from Dave’s hand into that deep pool of foundation cement. Some workers would latter swear that for a moment that deep pool of inanimate concrete heaved upward an extra 2 or 3 feet and some of it splashed on Dave’s cut hand. But they wouldn’t go so far as to say it grabbed Dave’s hand. At least not to anyone else. Not while they were sober.

Whatever the facts are, Dave gashed his hand rather badly and as the blood splashed into the deep pool of concrete, Dave fell into the pit. Several workers were watching and seemed too struck still by the sight of a fellow worker falling into the wet foundation. Dave never came to the surface.

They never recovered the body. When someone slips into that deep a pool of concrete, there is just no way to go after them. You just finish the job; have a drink or two for the brother worker, and go on to the next job.

At night, while the concrete cured, some late night workers would claim to have heard the sound of laughter. Deep, nasty, evil, laughter but the night winds will play tricks on your hearing. Everyone knows that.

Structure steel workers are a tough breed. Men who climb the girders of a building frame are a little off center. They have to be, to continue working 35 to 40 stories in the air. Especially after seeing a man fall to his death.

Bobby was a good iron worker. His brother had gotten him into the union right after he had come home from Desert Storm and had been discharged. That was just a few years ago but Bobby was a good worker. Never careless. Always wore his safety harness. Always “hooked up”. Always.

Bobby was working on setting the frame beams on the 32nd floor. Almost all the beams were straight and set but Bobby felt one was out of line. He was walking the beam to the outside end when, he just fell. One guy said the beam seemed to twist under Bobby. But everyone knew that guy drank a lot. Nobody could explain how the safety line came off the beam. “Just one of those things”.

There were partial floors below him, but Bobby missed all of them and landed on the foundation 32 floors below.

If anyone had known, Bobby landed on the exact spot that Dave had fallen into the foundation concrete. The exact spot! If one was to look very closely at the spot where Bobby’s life blood touched the concrete, a small crack appeared. Bobby’s blood disappeared into this small entrance to the foundation, into the exact spot where Dave’s blood had first touched the foundation of the building. The exact spot where Dave had fallen into the pit of the building and where Dave was entombed forever. The exact spot.

They closed the job site for several days in a kind of remembrance of Bobby. Even a couple of the older workers remembered Dave while they were lifting their glass of beer.

That night the site guard felt a chill as he was making a check. He could hear someone sighing deeply, but the kind of a sigh one hears someone making after having a really good meal. A deep sigh of contentment. The sigh of a full stomach.

Charley was a simple accountant. He was the senior accountant. He’s been in the same job for 17 years. He’s been with firm long before they had moved into this new building. He even got his own office in the corner of the new building.

Charley was a married man. Married to Laura for 15 years and never once thought of playing around. Besides, who would want an affair with an accountant? Charley was in a simple word, boring. He never went to girly bars, or for that matter any bar. Charley barely drank at home and never at lunch. Fool around with the typing pool punch-board, Tammy, never. Until he went to work in the new building.

Every once in a while Laura would bring Charley a homemade lunch. It was one of those little things she did to keep their marriage happy. The kind of thing she would do unannounced. She would spend the morning making something special, something that Charley couldn’t get at any of the small diners near the new building.

That’s what she was doing that day she walked in and caught Charley and Tammy on Charley’s desk. Tammy’s dress was up over her hips and Charley was standing behind her with his pants around his ankles. There was little doubt as to what was happening.

Laura probably didn’t mean to throw that ashtray that hard. It was just a heavy, square glass ashtray. Who would think that such a thing would hit him in the forehead as he stood up trying to pull on his pants? The impact made Charley step backwards several times. Tammy tried to get away from Laura by moving away from the desk and she bumped into Charley.

Charley tried to keep his balance by pin wheeling his arms but it did no good. He struck the window with more force than he thought. The window seemed to fall out of the frame.

Some on lookers later claimed the window was whole until it hit the concrete 28 stories below. But since that meant the window would have had to come out of the frame in one piece and that was structurally impossible, they had to be mistaken. Everyone was so distraught with what happened that none noticed how Charley’s blood seemed to run under the edge of the building, into the foundation itself.

Into the exact spot where Bobby had fallen some time before, the exact spot where Bobby’s blood had seeped into the foundation. The exact spot where Dave had hurt his hand. The exact spot.

The firing of a typing pool bimbo made no news. The weekend suicide of a distraught wife in jail for killing her husband made only a little news.

The building watchman complained that weekend. In fact, he quit. Said there were too many sounds at night. Sounds like someone chuckling all night. And right after that poor accountant died.

Mike had been troubled for many years. His parents and first two wives always said it was because of Afghanistan but if the truth be known he had always been that way. As a kid he often hurt his and other kids, pets. By accident of course.

The one thing he did get from the military was the superb skill with firearms. In the passing years Mike had practiced, practiced and practiced. Mike was very good.

Mike could work when he wanted, and he was a very good house and interior painter. It was the kind of job he could work as much or as little as he wanted. And always have time for his shooting practice. Mike was very good.

At his present home Mike had to walk by that new building every day. He was there the day the worker fell in the concrete.

He watched the steel workers set up their frame. He watched the structure workers every day. Even the day one fell.

Whenever possible Mike liked to eat lunch in the park across the street. He was having lunch in the park the day the accountant fell out his window.

Today Mike is loading all his guns. Then he is going to the building on the corner and show people how very good he is with those guns. Mike is very good.

Ever listened to your building?

Every notice how air conditioning sounds just like laughter?

Update

Well, just a short update. I have recovered, mostly, from the accident. The problem is the “mostly”.

I am having a great deal of trouble and pain with my right hand and arm. The pain bolts down my arm, through the elbow, and into the middle two fingers of the hand. Sometimes the pain is so intense my hand involuntarily opens. This is a problem with a coffee cup and a beige carpet. You’ll figure it out.

Working out is almost impossible. I can’t pull up, push up, or use the punching bag. Since I don’t use much energy during the day my caloric intake has fallen way off. Trying to maintain weight is becoming difficult.

Primary care physician will not release me to return to work and the chiropractor isn’t sure he can help me.

Insurance companies are taking my messages, but not returning calls.

This sucks.

A Safe Place

While taking a day off, I happened to be flipping the channels on the boob tube. I turned onto the “Fat Broad That Knows Everything” show. There sat four or five “men” dressed in diapers, footy pajama’s, and baby bonnets. One of these dumb schmucks was sucking on a giant sized baby bottle. There was a hatchet faced woman in a nurse’s uniform who was “mommy”. These “men” were “getting in touch with their inner child”.

Then I caught the “New York Hebrican” reporter whio was sitting with a group of young “men” dressed like movie Indians. They were sitting around a make-believe campfire and talking about how the sat and talked and got in touch with their “lost manhood”. This would enable them to become “stronger, more sensitive men”.

While these “men” (and I will continue to use quotes for these people) are getting in touch with their inner child and becoming stronger and  more sensitive, the government is busy taking away their rights, one by one. The pack of clowns these guys elect has Washington buying $900 toilet seats and getting each other out of trouble, while they are getting in touch with themselves.

I don’t know every biker or vet, but the ones I do know don’t have any need to dress up like a “baby” or an “Indian”. In fact, I’ve known more than a few Native American’s and none of them have any need to sit around a camp fire to get in touch with their “inner feelings”.

Hauling ass down an open road with the wind in my face and the feel of good solid American Iron under my butt is ALL I need to get in touch.

My ol’ Lady loves me as I am and sure as hell doesn’t want to be my “mommy”.

To those out there getting in touch with your inner child or becoming stronger and more sensitive, stay the hell out of my way and my life. Quit making the world a safe place for me. I like the world as it is, tough, full of challenge, and decidedly unsafe.

 

I sent this to Outlaw Biker magazine in 1993. They printed it in June of that year. Funny, 25 years later everything is still the same. Nothing changes.

On Point

As I said I’ve been watching a lot of movies while recovering.

One I watch was “The Fencer”, a 2015 movie made in Finland, sub-titles, about Endel Nelis. Nominated for a number of international awards this was a nicely filmed  family movie about Estonia just after the end of WWII. A truly nice film.

The movie caught my attention because it reminded me of how I got into fencing. I started fencing in 1962. Yes, that’s me far right, bottom row. Good God, what happened to that kid?

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Our instructor was Anton Vukov. He taught math and history at Edmonds High School. He had fled Hungary during the Revolt of 1956. He made his way to America, Seattle, and became a teacher. He epitomized the professional teacher of the era. Jackets and ties were the dress of the time.

Prior to the “revolt” he had also been a member of the Hungarian National Fencing Team and was world known, among fencers. Since we were the only “high” school team we were competing against University students in Washington , Oregon, and British Columbia. He was a strict fencing master, but knew how to make a joke when it was needed.

He taught us footwork, blade work, and instilled in us the love of the sport. I have continued to fence throughout my life, worked as a sparring partner for an Air Force captain trying for the U.S. Olympic team, and even won a Hawaii State Sabre Championship a long long time ago.

I lost contact with all those young men many years ago.

I would like to say, Mister Vukov, thank you. Your gift has stayed with me all my life.