The Red Moustache Manuscripts

The Red Moustache Manuscripts contains vignettes chronicling over a half century of adventures. Some of the stories are amusingly funny while others can be seriously enlightening. So come in and enjoy a truly unique experience!

Recession Proof: Chapter Seven

"To the victor belong the spoils" - Senator William Learned Marcy (1832)

After the fight the gym cleared out quickly and all that could be heard was the occasional thud of one amateur fighter hitting a heavy bag and the echo that followed. While Steve showered in his private bathroom I waited and talked with Eddie who told me both fighters knew in advance that the winner would be awarded their first professional fight contract. They knew Steve would be training the winner. There had been a lot at stake.

For most of the ride back to Sal’s Steve remained uncomfortably quiet while I drove the Vic, his dark eyes looking straight ahead watching the road, his hair still wet from showering. I knew enough not to push conversation. Eventually he started talking “Styles make fights! Amadi is a tough kid, but Trace was too much for him. Hopefully Amadi learned something that will help him later on, when he runs into another counter puncher, a southpaw counter puncher...”

I could tell by the tone in Steve’s voice that he wasn’t happy with the way the fight had gone, that he may have anticipated a mismatch going into it, and in Amadi’s best interest, should not have put the young fighter in that situation. 

“I’m gonna be training Trace for his first professional fight and you’re gonna be my assistant. Pack a gym bag next week. You know how to hold a bag? Work the target mitts?”

I tried not to swallow too loud “Oh yeah, no problem.” It was more than I had signed on for.

I spent the remainder of the ride back to Sal’s wondering where I’d keep my loaded .38 while Steve and I were inside Russo’s training Trace McFadden…

To be continued...


Recession Proof: Chapter Six

“In Partner Dancing, the two dance partners are never equal. One must be the Lead and the other will be the Follow.” - Wikipedia

In dance, the Lead is responsible for initiating movement and the Follow's role is to maintain this movement. When the Follow steals the Lead it’s called Hijacking. I know this because my wife and I spent a great deal of time learning to Salsa Dance a few years back. Although I was not a willing participant at first, in the end I had a lot of fun and it helped the marriage, which had hit some rocky times…

In boxing, where there is a counter puncher involved, the Lead-Follow roles are often misunderstood early in the fight. Through the first two rounds Amadi Akingbade appeared to be walking forward and initiating the movement (Lead), however, it was actually Trace McFadden, the counter puncher, who had Amadi following him around the ring (Follow), who was dictating the fight.

Steve leaned towards me and said “Aggressive fighters like Amadi feel that they’re losing when they’re not moving forward and that makes them easy prey for effective counter punchers like Trace. Amadi has to stop following Trace and force the fight on the ropes where he can close the distance and land shorter punches- if he wants to turn this one around”.

Amadi had very little experience with counter punchers, especially southpaws, and in round three he continued chasing, hoping one big right hand could save the day. After two rounds of tasting leather in an attempt to get inside Trace’s guard, and with little to show for his efforts, with two minutes gone in round three, Amadi became tentative. He wasn’t throwing as often, more content to protect himself from the devastating counter left hooks to the body Trace seemed to be landing at will. After thirty seconds of inactivity, Amadi threw a lead right hand, but after missing with the punch he immediately lowered his guard in an attempt to protect his body. Trace had been successful in the opening round using the counter left hook over Amadi’s lead right, but spent a good portion of round two digging to the body in an attempt to lower Amadi’s hands. Digging to the body is never a mistake, and predictably, Amadi lowered his guard, attempting to block the hard body shots with his elbows.

Trace is not only a counter puncher, but an opportunist, as he should be. When the opening presented itself, Trace took full advantage, snapping off a powerful left hook over the top of the Akingbade lead right hand. The sixteen ounce gloves and padded headgear were not enough to keep Amadi upright, and down he went. Trace went to a neutral corner while Eddie stood over a sweat-soaked, semi-unconscious Amadi Akingbade, and counted him out.  

Recession Proof: Chapter Five

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”   -Abraham Maslow

Round two began with Amadi coming across the ring in a very aggressive manner, hoping to catch Trace by surprise. Trace reacted calmly and moved to his right, away from Amadi’s dangerous right hand, maintaining his guard. Amadi’s first punch was a lead right that was thrown with bad intention, and it missed horribly, resulting a slight stumble and a wry Akingbade smile. Trace’s concentration was keen, rivaled only by the Steve’s, whose dark eyes narrowed, beaming like lasers while he took in the action. Even watching a fight, Steve’s intense focus was steely.

With barely a minute gone in round two, it was already becoming apparent that Amadi Akingbade did not have the boxing skills of Trace McFadden. Certainly their styles were a contrast, but Trace was more polished in his southpaw counter   punching technique than Amadi was in his orthodox one-two approach.  Each time Amadi threw a lead left jab, Trace cut it off with his own counter right jab, noticeably throwing off Akingbade’s timing and any opportunity he had to throw his big right hand behind it. When Amadi tried to close the gap between the two fighters and get inside where an uppercut might do some damage, Trace stepped back and to his right, firing stinging left hands to Amadi’s exposed ribcage, sometimes doubling up the punch.   

Trace’s eyes carefully followed Amadi’s foot movement, careful not to fall for faints, and he seemed to have the shorter fighter figured out by mid round. By the end of round two, Amadi’s jab had become ineffective and the straight right hands which predictably followed, were missing. McFadden’s straight left was finding its range and his lead right hook was beginning to do some visible damage. A slight welt appeared over Amadi’s left eye.

At the end of the round Steve leaned over, breaking his silence, and whispered “Trace is going to knock out Amadi in round three-” His prediction was followed with an explanation “Counter punching is an art. Skilled counter punchers make their opponents miss and then make ‘em pay. Ultimately, they do the hitting and don’t get hit. The idea behind it is to land effective blows that make their aggressive opponents afraid to throw a punch. When the aggressors get too tentative, they turn into punching bags and the counter punchers have their way. There is no fighter more dangerous than an effective counter puncher-”

Recession Proof: Chapter Four

"Joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself" - Mahatma Gandhi

Toe to toe at center ring, at just under 6’ 1” tall, Trace McFadden looked a full four inches taller than Amadi Akingbade. Akingbade’s jet black skin and thick musculature were in direct contrast to Trace McFadden’s pale white skin, buzz-cut blonde hair, and long, lean muscle. Both fighters weighed-in over the 160 lb. limit, and looked more like super-middleweights, who fight at 168.

Steve leaned towards me again and said “Styles make fights. This kid McFadden is a natural southpaw with a stiff jab he likes to use to set up his straight left, and he’ll throw jabs to the body, usually on the front end of a double jab, trying to get his opponents hands down. He moves real well, circling to his right against orthodox fighters, which will keep him out of range of Amadi’s big right hand and in a good position to throw his left. If Amadi has any success with his jab, look for Trace to land some lead right hooks to Amadi’s temple. He’s comfortable as a counter puncher and he knows how to finish the show. I’ve seen it…

“Amadi likes the action inside and he works the body well. If he can get inside Trace’s guard, he’ll minimize any southpaw advantages. Amadi will have to circle to his left and keep his lead foot outside Trace’s lead right foot to avoid Trace’s dominant left hand and be in position to throw his powerful right hand. He should be lookin’ to throw the right uppercut, left hook combination, an effective strategy against southpaw fighters whose natural reaction to the right uppercut is to step away from it, toward the outside of their opponent's lead leg, which brings them directly into the line of fire of the orthodox fighter's lead left hook.”

At that moment, Steve launched into his fighting stance, a classic guard with hands high, orthodox, and then demonstrated the lethal combination punch, using me as his target. His mock uppercut came unannounced and as soon as I instinctively backed away, he threw the lead left hook. It whistled by me, missing by only centimeters. He returned to his stance momentarily, and staring at me with those dark eyes that suddenly looked as though they belonged on a great white during a daytime feeding frenzy, I felt his killer instincts pressing down on me. By that time my heart was racing and my hands were up for protection, then he cracked a casual smile, and after releasing his attention and returning to less threatening posture, he finished with “Amadi hasn’t seen many southpaws-- this will be a real test.” I was late putting my hands down.

When the bell rang the fighters wasted little time getting to center ring for the customary and courteous, tap of gloves. The fight started slowly, each fighter cautious of the other. Akingbade immediately established himself as the aggressor by constantly moving forward. Trace appeared comfortable, circling to his right and out of Amadi’s range. Although it appeared that Amadi was dictating the pace, it was really Trace who was steering an overly aggressive Amadi right where he wanted.

Two minutes into round one, McFadden began shooting quick, straight, stiff right jabs that got through Amadi’s lowered guard. When Amadi raised his guard, Trace threw some straight left hands to Amadi’s body, aiming for the liver, and looking to do some early damage. The round ended with Trace landing a vicious right hook to the temple, over the top of an Akingbade jab. If not for the headgear, it may have had Amadi in trouble…

Steve shook his head, not totally happy with what he saw from either fighter in round one. “Amadi’s gonna have to be patient and let Trace come to him. He can’t let Trace play matador, he’s too damn good at it. He should be circling to his left, away from Trace’s left hand, not walking straight in. He’s got to keep his lead foot outside Trace’s right foot and fire the right cross down the pike… Trace has gotta’ mix it up by circling to his left occasionally, ducking under any right hands and then firing his left hand before he starts circling to the right again. He can’t get too predictable either…”


Recession Proof: Chapter Three


 We are twice armed if we fight with faith.”- Plato

The once lively gym suddenly grew increasingly quiet. Only Steve continued his workout. Other than him grunting out his last few old school sit-ups, everyone had made their way over to the ring, including me. The two combatants looked focused and ready to do battle with their pores open and a light coating of sweat covering their bodies. I had almost forgotten that during sparring sessions fighters wore protective headgear and heavier gloves and I watched as the handlers laced up the gloves and began cinching up the headgear. Eddie climbed through the ropes and went to center ring, waiting for the fighters. He was also the referee.

Unlike sanctioned fights, gym fights required no introductions. You knew the fighters because you either trained at the gym or worked there. I had done neither. The heavy breathing I heard beside me was Steve. He had finished his workout and was wiping sweat from his face, readying himself to watch. He leaned closer to me, and talking into my ear, Steve quietly told me a little history about each fighter, which I would later discover, was his passion.

The white fighter was a 20 year old kid from Fall River, Massachusetts named Trace McFadden. His family emigrated to the United States from Ireland in 1840 along with hundreds of thousands of others, escaping famine and starvation. I had read about the failed potato crops that caused the death of so many in Ireland, leaving dead bodies piled high in open ditches, some with mouths stained green from eating grass. According to Steve, Trace’s great-great grandparents had been lucky, having made their way onto a sea-worthy ship headed for America, more specifically Fall River, where the promise of a better life waited, and jobs were abundant.

The ‘Great Fire’ in 1843 destroyed a large portion of the city of Fall River, and 200 families were left homeless. Steve said the McFadden’s were one of those families.

By 1868, Fall River had been rebuilt and surpassed Lowell as the leading textile city in America. With over 500,000 spindles and 1,000 looms, jobs in the textile industry kept the McFadden’s gainfully employed.

By 1910 the American Print Company employed 6,000 people and was the largest printer of cotton cloth in the world. Located on the shore of Mount Hope Bay, ships bringing cotton were able to dock just outside APC’s doorstep. Generations of McFadden’s had been employed by APC, but in 1924 facing strong competition from the South, where lower labor and transportation costs prevailed, they were forced to move much of their operation to Tennessee, and many of the local jobs were eliminated, including the McFadden’s.

By 1930, the Great Depression put many other local mills out of business, and the McFadden’s out of work. The city of Fall River was declared bankrupt and was managed by the state for the next decade.

The American Printing Company closed for good in 1934, and their waterfront plant was bought by the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in 1937, where 2,600 people were soon employed. The McFadden’s all took jobs there. In 1941, it was yet another fire, this time one that burned a large portion of the main building, destroying 30,000 pounds of raw rubber, which put the McFadden’s out of work again.

By the mid 1940’s the McFadden’s were all working in the garment industry, an industry that relocated from New York City and capitalized on the cheap factory space and eager workforce in Fall River.

The McFadden’s remained in the same three family house they purchased in 1921, in an older section of the city known as Corky Row, a neighborhood nicknamed “below the hill” that had housed many poor Irish immigrants since the mid 1800’s. It was within walking distance of the home where Andrew J. Borden and his wife were ax-murdered in 1892.

Trace grew up in that same house in Corky Row. It was rundown by then as were many of the tenements there, especially those that had been built by cotton mills in the mid 1800’s, like the McFadden’s. Trace’s parents had struggles with employment throughout their lives, and although they never went hungry, Trace grew up with few advantages. He cared about his family and his boxing career, understanding that his clenched fists provided the McFadden’s with their best opportunity.

Trace McFadden had a very determined look on his face as he stepped into the ring...

Amadi Akingbade (Ah-mahdee Ah-king-bahdee) hails from Nigeria, located on the southern coast of West Africa. Amadi means “destined to die at birth” and Akingbade means “strong/brave, one who wears the crown”. Both his first name and surname, defined his life, according to Steve.

The 21 year old fighter was born in 1988, the year Nigeria, Liberia, and Senegal instituted a ‘Population Policy’ limiting a mother to four children, spaced two years apart. Amadi was the fifth born, and only because abortion is illegal in Nigeria and punishable by a maximum of 14 years imprisonment, unless it is done to save the life of the pregnant woman. His mother was healthy.

Lacking in skilled birth attendants, Nigeria has the second highest maternal death rate in the world. Amadi’s birth was nearly part of that statistic. His entrance into the world was a difficult one because he was in the kneeling breech position, a position where the baby is in a kneeling position, with one or both legs extended at the hips and flexed at the knees. This is extremely rare. In the States a doctor or midwife might have been able to turn Amadi, manipulating him into a head first position, and if not, a Caesarean section  would have been performed. The unskilled hands that brought Amadi into this world had little knowledge of how to perform this type of birth. The fear is that during this type of breech delivery there can be umbilical cord prolapse, compressing of the cord, starving the brain of oxygen, and if prolonged, it may cause permanent neurological damage, even death… Amadi was lucky to have survived.

Even after gaining political independence from Britain in 1960, Nigeria was a country full of secrets, partly due to laws that prevent journalists from reporting the truth. If a journalist detailed government scandals, coup plots, or corruption within the armed forces, they were threatened with arrest, tortured, forced into exile, and even assassinated. There was a widespread practice of female genital mutilation, stoning, caning, amputation, discrimination, and extortion, all a result of military juntas’ activities.

In the past, many Nigerian immigrants arrived in the United States to pursue western educational opportunities. During the nineteen eighties, political and economic problems were exacerbated by the revolving military regimes taking power, forcing many to seek asylum. Abuse of power, denial of fundamental human rights including freedom of speech, human trafficking, poor health care and general living conditions, along with an educational system described by many as dysfunctional, made living in Nigeria at that time, extremely dangerous. With passports easier to acquire at the time, immigrating to the United States was a viable option.

After Amadi’s father was murdered, his mother applied for and received passports for her entire family, enabling them to board a passenger-cargo ocean liner, leaving Nigeria for the United States. Amadi was fatherless, poor, and 14 years old at the time he began living in New York City.

After he entered the ring at Russo’s Gym, standing directly in front of Trace McFadden, you could tell Amadi Akingbade was exactly where he wanted to be…


Recession Proof: Chapter Two

“Nobody can think straight who does not work. Idleness warps the mind.” – Henry Ford

Tuesday morning came quickly and I was thankful. Being unemployed through the month of September when I was normally three weeks into my history curriculum, had me on edge, and the wife too. Sure, I had started to receive compensation, but I needed a real job. I’d been pulling my own weight since I was 15 when my father disappeared, my mother died and I began living in my uncle’s unfinished basement, sharing the space with his two untamed dogs. It was at that time that I asked people not to call me “Junior” anymore. I was an angry kid who didn’t need the daily reminder. Sharing his name was bad enough…

Along the way I had plenty of jobs before settling on teaching. I worked as a body shop apprentice, delivered packages, drove a canteen truck, reconditioned used cars, landscaped, was a construction laborer, sold life, health and disability insurance, and eventually worked as a bartender while I finished up at URI. I got my first teaching job just two days before my 27th birthday, ten years ago. I take great pride in doing whatever it takes. If I’m nothing else, I am a survivor…

Tuesday morning we gathered around the table, spilling sugar and non-dairy creamer on the cheap blue plastic tablecloth while pouring our coffee. The plan had changed. I was going with Steve Chalupa for the day, my direct boss. We had some pick-ups to do. He headed over to a late model navy-blue Crown Victoria parked out front. I followed. Then tossing the keys to me he said with a rewarding smile “Nick, you’re driving” The car was big and plush inside and handled like a dream.

Steve is 6’2” tall with broad shoulders, a narrow waist, a confident gait, movie star good looks, and brutal charisma. His thick dark hair was heavily gelled, combed straight back and hid the touch of gray beneath that hinted he's no young kid. When he talked he made eye contact, but his eyes were black or at least very dark brown, and it was hard to see his pupils, disguising his mood. His long, smooth forehead and dark eyebrows added to his intimidating features. As I drove, he directed me, adding that normally we’d be sharing the driving, but that today, the job was all mine. I had the feeling that if it worked out, this arrangement would be permanent. He continued by telling me I was a good driver, “calm and controlled”.

At the first stop, I waited in the “Vic” while Steve went inside a small meat packing plant. He came out twenty minutes later all smiles and told me we were heading to Russo’s Gym, about a half hours ride. I’m a fight fan and I knew a few local pugilists who trained there several years ago, and I’d been there before.

The gym, located in Coventry on the Pawtuxet River, was in an old brick-and-beam warehouse that was once part of a textile mill that had flourished in the latter part of the 19th century. Occupying two floors, the space had exposed rough cut chestnut beams and columns, brick exterior walls, large arched windows that provided natural lighting, and high ceilings. I knew exactly where it was. I didn’t know that Steve had been a promising light heavy-weight before a shoulder injury ended his career some fifteen years ago.

Before the door closed behind us, everyone in the gym acknowledged Steve’s arrival. He was a celebrity in there. Pictures on the wall showed him in his younger days, body ripped, gloved hands up in the traditional pose, and those dark eyes looking much younger, but every bit as intimidating. He told me to lay low while he changed up.

He came out of the locker room in medium length, black satin boxing shorts and a plain white tank, stopping to sit and lace up his faded black leather boxing shoes, which showed considerable wear. Steve looked real comfortable laced-up and in the gym.

He warmed up by skipping rope, which did little to distract his attention or steal his wind. He continued talking, asking me if I worked out. I told him I did, careful not to use the words treadmill or elliptical. In there it was all raw. Sweat-soaked bodies, heavy bags popping, speed bags humming, ropes whistling, and medicine balls thumping. There was a lot of activity that morning and I couldn’t help but look around with kid-like enthusiasm.

After five minutes of skipping rope without a miss and breaking a light sweat, Steve headed over to one of several speed bags mounted on the rear wall, by the fire escape. His concentration was up a notch, but he still carried on a conversation with me. Without looking away or breaking his rhythm, he told me he bought this gym ten years ago for a song, and that Eddie, the heavy-set guy who was standing by the ring apron, ran the place for him. He said there were several promising fighters in the gym’s stable, and that we’d get to see a highly anticipated sparring session between two up and coming middleweights in an hour or so.

The ring was in the center of the gym, elevated several feet above the floor, with an area around its entire perimeter that was perfect for viewing the action. The gym’s wooden floor was heavily worn gray, but had plenty of bounce left in it, adding an element of authenticity. The two middleweights were getting ready at opposite ends of the gym by reeling off combinations at the flat target mitts worn by their handlers, punches that were popping like fireworks at a Mardi Gras parade. They both looked to be in shape, with great hand speed and concentration. Steve saw me watching intensely and poked me and said “You heard about ring wars in the gym? Guys care more about winning these sparring session battles than some of the fights they take. It’s about gym bragging rights, pride, and ultimately--respect. You don’t get anywhere in the fight game without proving yourself here first. You’re going to enjoy this-”

Steve was right. I don’t know if it was the smell of the gym, the old warehouse atmosphere, or Steve himself that had me amped up for this fight, but I was. At the many fights I had paid for and watched in local arenas, I could tell it was all about the money. Plastic cups filled with draft beer were $10 and cigar girls in leotards, balancing themselves atop four inch stiletto heels, worked the floor carrying wooden boxes filled with cigars that hung off wide suspenders and rested just above their waists, not blocking any of the goods, north or south of the border. The cigars cost $12 each, but the girls prepared the stogies by inserting them in their mouths and rotating them several times, making sure to get them nice and wet, their eye contact on the paying customer only. The girls took their time, making sure each customer got his money’s worth, before snipping one end and lighting up. Once lit, they took several long drags, cheeks puckered, lips wrapped tightly around the cigar, finishing by exhaling smoke laced with a heavy dose of sexual innuendo. Each presentation was an adult show, encouraging the next guy to ante up. It was a lap dance without the lap. At one fight my friend bought three cigars. I watched while I sipped my $10 draft beer, careful not to collapse the plastic cup…

In Russo’s gym there were no $10 draft beers or $12 cigars, and when it came to sparring sessions, it was definitely all about the fighters.


Recession Proof: Chapter One

Sometimes it's the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” - Keri Russell

I had just recently received my pink slip and been unemployed for only a few days when I started searching for a job, but the recession had limited my opportunities, and everyone else's. A month later, while standing in the crowded unemployment line where fast friends are made, waiting to sign up to receive benefits, and after a lengthy discussion about jobs past and present, the guy I was talking with told me about a security company in Providence that was hiring. He scribbled down a name and number on some scrap paper and squeezed it into my open palm. I put the paper in my front pocket, behind my wallet, not wanting to pull my wallet out in this line full of unemployed characters, some of whom looked questionable. We continued talking, less about ourselves, more about the local hockey team’s Calder Cup chances, inching up in the long line which had wrapped itself around the outside of the unemployment office and half way around a full city block. I ended up making small talk with others around me, more fast friends, and losing sight of the guy who had given me the job tip... When I returned home that afternoon, I called the number. A lead is a lead. They wanted to see me immediately. I went to the address they gave me over the phone at 4:00 pm to meet with the boss.

The office was located in an older strip plaza outside the city limits, in the back of Sal’s Cleaners, where the receiving area in the front as well as the pressing area in the back, was staffed by Asian workers who smiled a lot, but didn’t speak fluent English. In the way back, behind where the cleaning business operates, was the boss.

Salvatore DeLuca is a big man, taller than six feet and not much less than 300 pounds, with a round face permanently creased with concern, and thinning black hair. If I had to guess, he’s chasing 60, and at a slower pace than he chased 50. On this day he was wearing an off-white button front shirt, the kind with a two inch hem around the waist that’s not meant to be tucked in. The air around him was heavily scented with everyday cologne, but his dark gray dress pants and black tie shoes completed what was a credible wardrobe. His introduction was brief and his eye contact never wavered. Looking directly at me, over his thick black reading glasses, with his huge hands which looked more like mitts, folded in front of him on the only part of his desktop that was uncluttered, and with an accent that’s part Rhode Island, part Italy, he explained the job. He’s a very intimidating character and he had my attention. I listened carefully to what he was saying.

The job involved surveillance and being part of a surveillance team. I was surprised, it paid very well. My mortgage payment was late, the refrigerator’s bright light had an uninterrupted path into the kitchen and with three young children and a wife that doesn’t let up, I immediately accepted the job. “The work is all in Rhode Island, mostly the downtown Providence area”, Salvatore said.

The following Monday morning, just after 7:00 am, I was seated in the back of a large four door gas guzzling, medium brown Buick LeSabre, behind the driver, with two other men who sat square and looked straight ahead. One is my direct boss, he was sitting shotgun. Because of our broad shoulders, the car is full. At first glance, my three new co-workers looked strangely similar to each other; their clothing plain and unnoticeable. I was handed a glossy black and white of the man we'll be watching, an ear piece for communication and then-- a gun. An American Derringer, a .38 special double shot with pearl inlays and a concealed leather shoulder holster, not the kind of gun I expected, not that I expected to carry a gun. It was the same kind of pistol used by John Wilkes Booth to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. Small and easily concealed, derringers, or “hide-aways” as they were called, were the old west riverboat gamblers weapon of  choice, their short barrels and inadequate grips limiting them to close range personal protection, about the width of a card table. Because they’re not revolvers, the number of barrels indicates the number of rounds. This one had two vertically aligned barrels. I was told to be careful, that it was loaded… I didn’t ask.

We parked the Buick in an underground garage off the beaten path, where, with just a slight nod, we pulled in, not needing to stop or even pause for the lot attendant, screeching our way into the first available spot. Without the slightest hesitation, the four of us got out and began walking with intention, several city blocks to our assigned locations, which were closer to the downtown area.

My job was to stand unnoticed in front of a municipal building, watching for our guy. As he approached my location, my heart started pounding, the boss' voice was calming in my ear piece as he instructed me to look away and let him walk by. He alerted me that the Feds were right behind him. I watched as three men in suits wearing dark glasses, apprehended him; violently cuffing his hands behind his back, escorting him away quickly, looking around suspiciously for witnesses in the process, hoping they hadn’t been seen. They eyeballed me, but I was under the impression that I still looked like a high school history teacher, an unemployed one, who just recently received his first pink slip, and so I remained calm and looked away…

We met back at the car where I was told I did well, didn't panic. In the car I attempted to give back the gun. The boss told me to keep it. The rest of the day was spent behind the cleaners, in a small, dimly lit room that had no windows to let in daylight. There was an old refrigerator, and a coffee maker, a large microwave oven, and some accouterments on a narrow table against the far wall. Everyone had a seat at the round wooden table in the middle of the room, a total of eight, including myself. We drank hot coffee, Chock Full of Nuts brand, ate sandwiches from the deli next door, and shared the local rag, which was required reading. I took my turn. At quitting time one of the guys pulled the plug on the coffee maker and poured the remains down the bathroom sink, which hung crooked on the concrete block wall next to the hopper.

On my way home that afternoon, alone in my black Ford Escort, listening to some unimportant but heated banter on sports talk radio, I began to think about my new job and the guy in the unemployment line who had given me Sal’s number… Then it hit me like a two-ton wrecking ball on aging brick-- I’d been carefully recruited. I wasn’t working for a security company; I was working for the MOB!

Powered by Squarespace.  Copyright 2014 Vincent LeVine