PUNCH & BUCKY GO TO WORK

10/28/2020 4:36:21 PM
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A Native New Yorker, born in Harlem and raised in The Bronx. I spent a great deal of time visiting, living in and working in Virginia. As a result, many of my short stories are in the vein of Zora Neale Hurston, with extensive use of southern black dialect.
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Ya thank dat black, four-eyed, long-legged summabitch’s evva gon pay us?" Bucky asked Punch.

"Prob'ly pay us no mind like he's been doin'," replied Punch. "Ah knew Ah shoulda listened ta Morgan Harris when he tole me not ta trust dat tall, Uncle Tom, ass kissin’ muvvafucka."

Franklin “Punch” Morton and William “Bucky” Sharp, both in their early twenties, were standing on the Post Office steps on Main Street in Creston, North Carolina early Monday morning. They had just seen Julius Fingers' silver-colored Cadillac go by. He waved to them, and then made a right turn as he headed towards one of the two Municipal Parking lots off of Main Street.  As with similar American towns, both sides of Main Street were lined with a series of small, single and two story buildings. These buildings were home to various businesses, including a hardware store, a general store, a gift shop, a jewelry store, a travel agency and a movie theater.

Fingers was the owner of ZUME Realty. He had hired Punch and Buckey to clean out an old, vacant house he intended to sell. Now, they had been waiting for nearly two months to get paid. Each time they approached Fingers, he told them that business had been slow, but that he wouldn't "forget” about them.

 A black lawyer, Fingers had quickly developed a reputation for being deceitful in his real estate dealings. Moreover, many longtime Creston residents viewed him as an arrogant, conniving, sycophant. Fingers had also become complacent in his ability to cause hardship and misfortune to others, without having to pay any real consequences for his actions.

On their part, Punch and Bucky had been friends since the third grade. Both lived at home with their respective parents, siblings and other assorted relatives. They worked at various, temporary, manual labor jobs to essentially support their recreational activities, which included marijuana smoking, alcohol drinking, eating fast food, buying 8-track music cartridges and going to the movies.

 

 

"Heard some of de slick shit he was doin', got his ass chased outta New Yawk. Swindlin' bastard."

"Bet it did," said Punch. "Ah have a few things Ah wanted ta do wif dat money. Ah was gonna buy dat new Bruvvas Johnson 8-track."

"Dat's the one wif 'Git de Funk Out Ma Face' on it, right?"

"Yep," replied Punch. He began singing the lyrics. "If you don't like our music, you don't haveta use it. Git de funk out ma face. Git de funk out ma face."

"Mikey was playin' it up at de court yesterday." The "court" was a local outdoor basketball court, where they and their friends gathered to play pick-up basketball games, smoke marijuana, drink beer and wine, and listen to music.

"Dey some bad ass bruvvas on dem guitars." said Bucky.

As the two men began walking down Main Street towards the “court”, they raised their clenched fists in the air to reciprocate the “Black Power” salutes they’d received from the passengers of several passing cars.  When they neared ZUME Realty, Punch nodded in the direction of the storefront and said, "Ah went innair las' week an' tried ta talk ta dem two arrogant, nasty bitches workin' dere. But dey jus' gave me a hard time an' de run around.”

"Ma sista, Brenda, tole me dat's how dem bitches are," said Bucky. "Said de one wif de big afro's de worst. Talkin' slick out de side of her mouf like somebody don't know she's talkin' shit to 'em."

"Ah'm thankin' 'bout sendin' ma cousin, Ginger, an' summuva huh frens uppair ta whip dey asses," said Punch. "'Specially dat big nosed one wif dem ugly ass braces on huh teef."

"Dey prob'ly boaf need good ass whippin's," said Bucky. "Brenda said dey thank dey smarta den uvver people. Ack like dere shit don't stink."

"An' Fangas is a nasty fucka. Don't even speak half de time. Ack like he don't even like his own people," said Punch.

Bucky said, “Yeah. He gotta be de mos’ fucked up bastard ta evva shit behine two shoes.”

"But, let dat edjacated dummy need sumfin from ya an' he's all giggles and grins," said Punch.

"Til he sees one uvvem crackas, den he's back ta bein' 'Captain Kiss Ass'," said Bucky.

Yeah one uvvem dem crackas or Biggie Langer,” said Punch.  

At seventy-two, the exceptionally overweight Carlton “Biggie” Langer was one of the most affluent and influential black men in Creston.  He owned four businesses, including a hardware store, a carwash and the building in which ZUME Realty was located. He also owned several parcels of vacant property inherited from family members. Additionally, he was the Master of the regional Grand Lodge of Freemasons.

Bucky said, “Frenchie Thomas said he saw Fangas bow in fronta Biggie at de las’ Masons’ meeting dey held uppat de Hall.”

“What in de hell was Frenchie doin’ uppair?” asked Punch.  “You know dem Masons don’t want no niggas like Frenchie Thomas in dere club.”

“He cleans up befo’ and afta de meetin’s.  Dey give ‘im a few bucks fo’ takin’ care of de place.”

“Oh,” said Punch.

“But dat ain’t got nuffin ta do wif what Ah said,” said Bucky. “Dat fuck, Fangas, did a bow right in frontta Biggie.”

“A what???” asked Punch in amazement, as he grabbed the fist-shaped handle of the plastic, afro pick comb in the back of his large afro.  He scratched his scalp with it and dandruff floated onto his shoulders.

“A bow. Went down on one knee an' made a sweep wif his arm. Like ‘em people do in frontta Kings an’ Queens an’ shit.  You seent ‘em do it in de movies ‘bout Robin Hood an’ dem uvver swordfightin’ pitchas.”

Punch laughed and then asked, “An’ what did Biggie do?”

“Frenchie said dat he kinda looked away like he was embairrist o’ sumfin.”

“Ah bet he was embairrist,” said Punch. “Too fuckin’ bad Fangas didn’t fall over an’ break his fuckin’ neck o’ crack his haid open or sumfin.”

“Knowin’ dem niggas, dey prob’ly woulda laughed an’ gon’ right on havin’ dere meetin’, while Fangas was laid out in de middle of de flo’.”

“Biggie coulda used his black ass as a footstool,” said a laughing Punch.

"You heard what dat muvverfucka did ta Arfur Walker, didn't you?" asked Bucky.

"Naw. What happened?" asked Punch.

Bucky related the story of how Fingers had allowed Arthur Walker, a life-long, Creston resident, to be cheated on a real estate transaction to the benefit of a consortium of doctors. Arthur owned a tract of land near Broadview Avenue on which a doctor and his associates wanted to build a suite of offices. Rumors soon spread that Fingers had taken a substantial commission on the sale, as well some unreported "under the table" money from the doctors, while Arthur received nowhere near the true value of the land.

"Dere's a special place in hell fo' muvverfuckas like Julius Fangas," said Punch. "Ah wouldn't cross de street ta piss on dat fuckin’ bastard if he was on fire."

Bucky laughed.

"Ah heard dat he buys up properties from people who are goin' unda fo' whatevva reason, den fixes 'em up ta sell 'em at a big profit," said Punch.

"Wair'd ju hear dat at?" asked Bucky.

"Poppa Joe an' Albert Sanker was talkin' ‘bout at de fillin’ station," replied Punch, who occasionally worked weekends at his brother’s Sunoco gasoline station. "Said dat ass kissin' fuck ain't got no ‘llegience ta nuffin an' nobody but hisself. A sorry bastard."

"Yeah, an' sumfin tells me dem two bitches innat office is jus' as bad or worse den he is," said Bucky.

As they passed under the Main Street movie theatre’s marquee, Punch looked up and saw that The Omen was its featured attraction.

"Ah'd like ta see dat movie," he said. "Ah heard it's s'posed ta be pretty good."

"Scary as a muvvfucka is what Ah heard," responded Bucky. "'Bout de devil an' shit."

"Prob’ly Fangas life story,” Punch laughingly replied. “Ah wanted ta take Kim ta see it, but Ah need ta git ma hands on some funds firs' an' soon!"

"Oh yeah, Ah meant ta tell ya, somebody said dey hirin' people downnat de Community Action Center on Leeds Street," said Bucky. "We should check it out tomorra."

"Ah heard dat from ma cousin, Ron," said Punch. "He's workin' already."

“We’ll meet up hair an’ go downnair ’bout at eight-thirdy an' see what happens."

The two men headed towards Bumpy's Record & Head Shop, which sold 8-track music cartridges, assorted posters, incense, rolling papers, cigarette rolling machines, and other paraphernalia associated with tobacco and marijuana smoking.

As they turned a corner and walked up a small hill, the men saw a sign in a house's front yard that read:

 

FOR SALE

ZUME REALTY

703-555-9789

 

"Got de nerve ta be sellin' annuver house," said Punch. "If Ah had a million fuckin' dollas, Ah wouldn't buy a piece uh fuckin' bubble gum from dat low-life muvvafucka."

"Ah jus' thoughta sumfin," said Bucky. "Ya thank dere's any way we could get a list of properties Fangas brought an' is trynta sell fo' hisself?"

"Maybe. My cousin, Ernestine, works up at the Lennix County Circuit Court Clerk’s office," said Punch. "She might be able ta git it. Fangas prob'ly only got a few houses at dis stage o' de game, anyway."

"Okay," said Bucky. "Talkta Ernestine an' see what she cain do."

The two teens continued on their journey and finally reached the “head” shop.

The next day, as planned Punch and Bucky met on Main Street.

"Didju talk ta Ernestine?" asked Bucky.

"Yeah, she'll do it, cause she don't like ’at muvvafucka Fangas eever," replied Punch. "Said he don't like talkin' ta huh.”

“Really” said Bucky.

“Yep. Looks right past her when he goes uppair like she's invisible or sumfin. Only wants ta talk ta dem white folks or uvver uppity ass niggas. She'll give us de list on Friday, cause huh supervisor ain't gon be around."

"Okay, good," said Bucky.

"You still ain't said what we gon do when we git it," said Punch.

"Ah'll tell ya when we git it. In the meantime, we got some collectin' ta do," Bucky responded. "Now, les go see what deese people talkin' 'bout job-wise at de action centa."

____________________________________________

 

"Man, dis muvvafuckin’ shit stinks!" said Punch.

"Tie dat handkerchief tighter 'gainst yo' nose," advised Bucky.

supermarket.

"Boots didn't complain when him an' dat ugly ass, beat up cat was diggin' through dis shit," said Bucky.  "Quit bein' a crybaby." He laughed.

Boots Morgan was a local resident, who rummaged through the dumpsters behind supermarkets for discarded, but still packaged, food items. He'd then sell some of them to other people.

"He's useta dis shit,” said Punch. “'Sides You still ain't tole me why we gittin' shit outta dis dumpsta."

"It's fo' Mr. Fangas," Bucky said with a smile.

"Man, you as crazy as a junebug. He ain't gon buy nunna dis ole, smelly ass food," Punch said, as he threw a package of chopped meat into the crate he and Bucky had placed outside the dumpster.

"Ah know dat. We gon give it ta him.”

“You musta lost yo’ damn mind.”

Bucky laughed and said, “Jus' keep searchin'. See if you cain fine some cans o’ tuna fish."

After approximately another half an hour of searching, the two men had filled the crate.

"Now what?" asked Punch.

"Tell ya tomorra when we git de list," replied Bucky. "But it's gonna be a busy weekend."

They loaded the crate onto the back of Joe Taylor's pick-up truck.

"De way alla dis shit stinks, ya know we gonna haveta wash dis truck down 'fore we give it back ta Joe," said Punch, as the two men got into the truck.

They traveled a few miles to an abandoned house on the outskirts of Creston. Once there, they unloaded the crate, covered it with plastic and put it in the basement of the house. When they finished, they returned to the truck and drove away.

"Are ya gonna tell me what in de fuck we're doin' drivin' 'round in de middle of de night wif a crate uh nasty ass food an' shit?" asked Punch, taking a joint of marijuana from behind his ear.

"Tomorra," responded Bucky. "Trus' me, you gon git a kick out of it."

"You are one crazy bastard," Punch said, as he laughed and lit up the joint.

____________________________________________

 

As promised, Ernestine had given Bucky and Punch the list of Fingers' personally-owned properties.  She had also assured them that, as far as she knew, none had security systems. They were seated in the pick-up truck, smoking marijuana and looking at the locations of the three houses.

"Dis one's on Ol' Bust Head Road," said Bucky, as he exhaled marijuana smoke.

"Deese two are on Lennix Road in Freemon," Punch said, pointing at two addresses with a marijuana-stained finger. Freemon was a subsection of Creston.

"Okay," said Bucky. "Time's uh wastin'." He started the pick-up truck, put it in gear and drove away.

They arrived at the house where they'd stored the crate the night before; it was beginning to get dark outside. Putting back on the Playtex rubber gloves he'd worn the day before and handing a pair to Punch, Bucky said, "Les git dat crate."

After the crate was loaded onto the pick-up truck, Bucky said, "Here's de plan, bruvva man." He then explained what they were going to do with the old food.

Punch laughed. "You outta your fuckin' mind."

Bucky laughed, began walking towards the truck's driver's seat, and said, "Let's roll, Wheels!"

____________________________________________

 

Julius Fingers was sitting in his parked car thinking about the damage that had been done to his three houses.  The food items left behind by vandals had attracted various insects, as well as several animals, including raccoons, cats, squirrels, foxes, rats, mice and birds. The creatures had gained access by coming through doors and windows left open by the perpetrators. Some of them also dug through the floorboards and other parts of the houses. The combined smell of animal and human excrement and urine, and spoiled food, which permeated the premises had caused him to vomit when he initially stepped into the first house.

Fingers looked down at the cast on his left ankle. He had broken it after slipping in the feces. In his anger, he had also punched a wall which resulted in his breaking two knuckles on his left hand. His slip and fall had also caused him to break one of the lenses in his eyeglasses. 

He thought about not telling Biggie Langer about the other two houses, because when he’d told him about the first house, Biggie roared with laughter and then said in his rich, deep, gravelly voice, “Ah bet dat place smells like a hunnert cans o’ git back!”  He continued laughing until tears rolled down his cheeks.  Langer’s reaction had startled Fingers, but he dared not show his disdain for fear of offending Langer. Now, if he told Biggie about these other two houses, he’d probably think he was an idiot and scold him like a child.

“People around these parts sure have a warped sense of humor,” Fingers thought to himself.  He stared out at a cardinal that had landed in a nearby tree.

A week later, Fingers and Biggie were walking along Main Street discussing the status of the repair and clean-up work being done on Fingers’ three houses.

“I don’t know about that guy who Frenchie referred to me to do the job cleaning and fixing those houses,” said Fingers. “He did one house about three days ago, and I haven’t seen him since.”

“Ah coulda tole you not ta pay Knotty up front to clean dem houses,” replied Biggie. “He’s gotta serious drainkin’ problem.”

The two men continued walking, passing Bucky and Punch, who were on their way to jobs at the Community Action Center.

“Man, oh, man,” said Fingers. “I guess it’s true that you get what you pay for, huh?”

A smiling Bucky looked back over his left shoulder and said, “An’ sometimes ya git whatchu deserve.”

 

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