Tuesday, May 12, 2009

GOLDEN DELICIOUS

$43.

That’s it. No wonder the fucker is willing to deal with crooks. The Nerd is broke. Not as broke as me, but for a guy in a suit, who works in a building with security and lives in fancy Santa Monica, $43 is bullshit. That’s all the cash he had in his wallet. He must be one of those dumbasses who lives on credit and lets the bank run their lives. No bank for Trey. Me and my dad were our own bank. Green cash or green bud. No credit or loans or promises. It was all real. I left Ballentine in a hurry, didn’t have time to grab any of our stashed cash.

And the Nerd’s not bankrolling me. Not yet. He’ll pay. Now he knows I’m a mean business motherfucker. My price went up. Two hundred thousand. As soon as I can get in touch with him. He didn’t show up at his work this morning. I watched. Couldn’t sleep and paced around his building all night.

That dagger sure feels useful in your hand. Straight blade, good handle for killing goblins and saving maidens. Those dorks did something right. Makes you want to start sticking people. I should stick the Nerd after he pays me. He wanted my blood. He can learn what it’s like. When he ran, he dropped the sheath, so I’ve stashed the blade before I draw any blood.

Thought about using his credit cards for a hot meal or to buy one of those beach houses below the bluffs. But Trey isn’t stupid. No footprints. The credit cards went into the trash with his wallet. I kept the cash and his driver’s license. It has his address. He might be home.

You’re probably thinking I should take the $43 and get the hell out of town. That’s what you would do, let it go and move on. But you’re not me. Homeless and on the run. It’s like there was an earthquake in Ballentine and the ground crumbled and ate everything I had. I got nothing. So you say, “You got nothing, then it can’t be worse somewhere else. At least there won’t be any spies and nerds with daggers who want you dead. Nothing to lose.”

Then I say, looking you straight in the eye with my hard look, “I got nothing but my name. Passed down from my father. He crawled through tunnels in Nam to bring that name to me. My mother didn’t want the name and blew out of town one morning after dropping me off at kindergarten. Fuck her. She never got to know how cool I am. I’m so cool that I keep my word. And if anyone fucks with a friend of mine, they make an enemy of me. And if anyone fucks with me, they’ve got trouble.”

The Nerd has it coming. He’s going to pay good money when I find him. He’s going to pay.
Nerd ain’t going to be easy to find. Punch to the face scared him good. After haunting his office building, I slid north to the nice neighborhoods. Some of the streets have numbers and the others have names. Trey is sharp. I’d seen the names from some of the parks where I sleep. One park is on the bluffs over the ocean. The Nerd’s street ran right into that park.
Never ventured into these neighborhoods. Don’t think they take to homeless dudes, even ones as good looking as me. Tall eucalyptus trees. Green lawns must take a thousand gallons of water a day. Up in Washington, you get a lawn whether you want it or not. Here, everyone works for them.

I stayed low key, no trouble and didn’t see any cops. Saw a lot of big houses. Expensive cars. But no one walking on the street. Just me.

Golden Delicious. When I saw the Nerd’s house, I almost cried like a girl. Golden Delicious. Two trees, one on each side of the front door. Some asshole didn’t know how to prune them and they were dancing like ornamentals, but the trunks were strong enough to support fruit. You know anything about fruit trees? If you did, you would’ve cried, too.

When I get my place in Oregon or Canada, I’ll have fruit trees. Apples and pears and if the soil and air is right, I’ll plant vineyards and make my own wine. You’ll drink my wine and no one will know the money came from the drop I intercepted and no one will know what happened in Ballentine.

Dagger sheath is thick leather. It was inside my waistband and down my left leg. Just the handle of the knife was sticking out, under my shirt, and I could pull it fast if I needed. I knocked on the Nerd’s door and waited. If he tried to off me at the meet with a dagger, I didn’t think he’d answer the door with a gat.

The Nerd didn’t answer the door. Mrs. Nerd answered the door.

A lot of the housewives in Washington still look like homesteaders. Clothes are a little old, got some wrinkles on their faces and are tired all the time. Mrs. Nerd wasn’t young, but she wasn’t cracked from hard living either. Didn’t have kids, didn’t look ground down enough. This woman was fit and probably had a personal trainer every day. Tight body and the mean eyes of the rich.

She was tired, though. I could see in her face. Something had been wearing on her for a couple of days. The Nerd, no doubt. She couldn’t know everything he was up to, though. If she did, no way would she open the door.

Mrs. Nerd looked me up and down quick and got ready to scream or call the cops or try out some of her yoga fighting moves on me. Thought about tangling with her, thought it might be fun. But Trey can be a gentleman.

“Sorry to disturb you, ma’am.” I even said “ma’am” like some fucking kid selling Christmas cards. “I’m an arborist and I noticed the apple trees in your front yard could use some maintenance.”

“I have a gardener.” She said it like it was all I needed to know and would I please burst into flames now and leave her to her problems.

I’m part of her problems. “Golden Delicious. Those are Golden Delicious trees and your gardener doesn’t know what to do with them. If you hired me, I could guarantee you a great crop this year.” All through the talking, I’m looking past her into the house. Nice place, lots of space and furniture. She had her cell phone and landline on the coffee table in front of the couch. She was waiting for a call.

The Nerd wasn’t there.