As Travis was establishing our online presence, events in the real world were getting rather dodgy. Milton’s decision and our concurrence to eschew the drug trade had immediate and impactful repercussions. Gianni was pissed.
He’d grown accustomed to the arrangement, and why not, it was easy money. Then we stopped delivery. The Postal Worker’s Union leadership may have been in his back pocket, but we had the workers and we were united. Well, we were until they started firing us.
Even Gianni didn’t have the manpower to reek his brand of vindictive vengeance on the lot of us involved in the operation, so he went to the USPS with a list of names, including Max, Milton and me and all of our closest conspirators.
But getting fired ain’t shit, happened to me all the time, the difference here was I also had a pseudo-mobster hell-bent on sinking me in the middle of the Sound fitted with concrete clodhoppers.
Gianni sent people for us, but with the reunion and rapprochement between Rosie and Hector, we had a new element of protection. Still, we had to go to the mattresses for awhile; or the mattress in our case, which was considerably more pleasant than they make it out to be in the movies.
Milton was fine in his district. Max, too, was in an impenetrable position at his White Center headquarters. With Hector running interference on the street we enjoyed a degree of tranquility we hadn’t seen all year.
We were; however, losing momentum and running out of time, that is to say, money. We needed new financing.
The digital pamphleteering kept me busy and kept the spirit alive, especially in those demographics we’d struggled to reach before, 16-35, connected, politically active, underemployed, looking for something to do, anything. Our site traffic was steadily growing, you’ll forgive me that little play on words those of you aware of the facts, and those not, though, I have no idea how you could not be, bear with me and you’ll soon see.
Site traffic is one thing, real traffic quite another.
The fulcrum upon which Hector turned was surprising. Rosie had been pressing him to give up the drugs and join us, but for Hector giving up the drugs meant giving up the pussy, and he wasn’t ready to concede that, not easily.
One stormy night, wind blowing and rain falling steadily, Hector left his pied-a-terre at the W and joined us at the nerve center for wine and a tete a tete. We got blistering drunk and as the evening approached dawn, sore boils would be lanced, the puss of bitter memories flowing freely. Rosie and I were in a tight spot, we needed Hector’s money and yet for the purposes of our movement he had to give up his drug enterprise.
Finally, Rosie just asked him, “Why is it so important, why do you have to have it all the time?” Not mentioning the word ‘sex.’ “All the time, Hector?! It’s sick.”
Hector looked chagrined, downright repentant, then his anger flared one more time (for the evening) and let loose a story that had all of us in tears.
“After you and I split, Rosie, I didn’t know what to do. I had to go, you remember Tia Maria, my god such a puta, no way, no more. So I went to my buddy Juan’s, you didn’t know him, older guy. We had a great time at first, drinking, partying, lots of people around. Then one night we had all gone out, just cruising, walking the ‘hood, you know, and I got separated, lost them. I still had most of a brass monkey forty so sat on some steps and just drank. I was miserable.”
He looked miserable then, too. Sitting there on the lone chair in our one-room hideout, Rosie and I on the edge of the bed, watching, as this immensely powerful man, both physically and professionally, I mean, he could have killed me with his bare hands or by his fingers, as making one phone call would have had the same result. Then, though, he let himself go and he was that lost 15 year-old boy, alone, drunk, bereft of friends and family.
“I passed out, and I was woke up by a priest. I’d fallen asleep on the steps of a fuckin’ church an I didn’t even know it. Christ, Rosie, I figured it was some sort of a sign, you know, and this guy, Father Rick, he was a good guy. He took me into the rectory, fed me, talked to me, and I just spilled my guts and said I didn’t know where to go. He made some phone calls and before I knew it I was off at some boys school, living in the priests’ quarters. I had my own little room and I took classes with everyone else. It was good, I was learning shit, you know. I felt safe, like I’d dodged a bullet, and was on the right track.
“But, there was this one priest, I can’t even say his name, the bastard. He’d come in and talk to me. At first it was fine, just talking about my classes and god and shit, then he started getting close, closer day by day.”
Hector was shaking now, tears welling in his eyes, no longer angry, just hurt and afraid as he entered territory he’d never explored, land he’d banished and never shared with anyone.
“He sat closer and closer, every day, and I liked him, you know, but not like that, he was smart and he listened to me, taught me stuff, but then, then he really started touching me and telling me to touch him. It felt dirty and wrong, but I didn’t know what to do. I liked the school, I was improving myself, you know. Finally…”
Hector choked up and began sobbing. Rosie went over to him and tried to rub his back, but he knocked her hand away.
“He had me go down on him…and that was it. After he walked out of the room, I puked, and gathered my shit. I couldn’t take it anymore. No matter how good the school, no matter what it meant for my future, my present fucking sucked, and I got the hell out.”
Hector sat there and cried himself out.
All of us did, sitting in our own separate spaces, crying for him and ourselves, purging ourselves. After I don’t know how long, Hector looked up, gathered himself and finished his story.
“I left and found Juan. He had been dealing meth, so I started with him. We worked it, you know, got to be big shots, but always I had this secret and it ate me up inside. I was dirty, any touching set me off, when I was getting money, the girls flocked to me, like bees to honey. I had all I wanted, I have, have all I want. I don’t know, you could psycho-analyze it, maybe there’s no relation, maybe I jus’ use all that as an excuse because I like it. I don’t know.”
At that point it was getting early, the wine was gone so I put on some coffee. Hector and Rosie talked quietly as I plugged Mr. Coffee into the extension cord strung up from the restaurant below.
At last Hector stood up, puffed himself out to his full self, walked over to me and poked a hard finger into my chest, “You tell one fuckin’ person what I just told you bandejo, and I’ll fuck you up. I won’t kill you, cuz of Rosie, but you’ll wish I had.”
Then he broke into a grin and laughed, turned and said vaya con dios with just a hint of sarcasm in his voice, and went back to his suite at the W, where he probably had a good shag with the junkie or speed freak, whichever was up.
He gave up the drug business, though. Juan bought him out, but that money would run out. So, as I said, we needed new financing.
Hector’s solution was Spencer, a lawyer, a friend of a friend recommended when Hector got in a scrape over possession. Spencer was expensive, but he took care of things.