I stopped going home when I knew she’d be there. After work, after I got off another night shift spent watching the Vsort do its thing, another night dicking around with Max, another night coordinating larceny and committing federal crimes, I would walk the streets.
The early morning cool and damp of Seattle’s streets welcomed me like like like something cool and damp. It was good to stretch my legs outdoors after an evening stuck indoors, the loud machine tick-ticking still in my brain would slowly evaporate.
On sunny days I’d find a dry patch of grass for a nap, though, as you might imagine, sunny days in Seattle were few and far between. Park benches, the library, sometimes spots under the viaduct when I was feeling particularly like a derelict, dirty, rat-infested, bums galore and me feeling more and more like a bum, not that I minded being a criminal, bad husband, underachiever…I was stressed and worried about fucking up the scam.
I’d walk the streets and lie about in alleys or hang out in the kind of bars that opened early, literally sitting on wads of cash. Max was pissed off, making himself physically ill from the stress, and the rest of the guys were getting restless. The plan wasn’t going according to plan. In fact many of my carrier-brothers were downright rebellious. They were demanding larger cuts, some proof that we knew what the hell we were doing.
I didn’t want to be seen by anyone because; one, I never knew who was going to rat me out, and two, everyone had an idea, and when I say “idea” I mean complaint, cuz every idea is an accusation that screams, “You have NO idea.” Some of those bozos came up with real doozies. One group wanted to get compensated by the size of their route, you know the more junk mail they turned in the more they’d get paid, which was so downright silly another group formed trying for the opposite.
We had instituted payments of equal shares across the board, very egalitarian and democratic, but no one thought it was enough. There was a lot of pressure to just open an account at a legit bank, but that would have set off alarm bells unless we set up a front, a fictitious business. At one drunken meeting someone even mentioned something about direct deposit, which got him pelted with beer cans.
It was nuts.
We distributed it all once a month so as the days went by Max and I grew increasingly anxious as the wads built from Milton’s recycling buddy bulged. Everyone was walking on tenterhooks, knowing at any moment the rug could be pulled out from under us. We’d gotten more than half of Seattle’s postal workers into a pretty precarious position. I didn’t blame them their worry, I shared it.
Somehow or another I’d managed to find the flaming-est fire to jump in from my fucked up frying pan. I’d made bad decisions before in what limited life I’d led up to that point, but this one took the cake.
So, that’s how I found myself one day wandering through a part of town I shouldn’t have been wandering through with a couple K stuffed in my pocket. Pondering, pondering, lost in thought, off the plot and passing the pawn shop that changed everything.
It hit my like a flash, they all must deal in cash, and security, while not exactly Fort Knox-like, did exist and would be a vast improvement on Max's mattress or my sock drawer. I stopped in my tracks, backed up and checked out the place. Didn’t open ‘til noon, you know the place, guitars hanging in the window, metal mesh grate, littered with the detritus people thought had value once and now hoped others might, too. A pawn shop. I’d tried to sell a teevee in one once, nickels on the dollar. Not the home of friendly financiers, woo-hoo WaMu not quite.
I found a comfy bench to hang out on until 12:00 and then went back to Buck’s, only what I saw in the shabby light could not possibly have been Buck. Behind the cage, past the dusty trash, sitting pretty on her perch, there, there sat Rosie.
People like to talk about transformational moments in their lives, a lot must be revisionist history, making, in retrospect, more out of a moment than there really was. Maybe I’m doing the same, but I’m telling you even then I knew this was, if not right, at least big.
As I approached, she chirped “What can I do ya for?” happy and at ease as only someone with a gun by their knees can be.
I was dumbfuddled. To this day can’t recall exactly what I talked about, knew I couldn’t say anything off-hand about the plan, had that right, at least. All the rest, though...fuck if I know what I said. I came back. I came back damn near every day and when we finally started talking about business, it was no longer clear whether the plan had led me to my lover or we were two lovers concocting a new plan altogether.
It was as if there was this parallel life of mine that had been running along without me and I stumbled into it not missing a beat, stepping in at a trot and sprinting before I’d even recognized I was running.
So, yeah, there was that. But this ain’t no love story.
Rosie had skills.