Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Old Man & the Apple

Here is my stab at R.W.'s Writing Challenge. Hope you like it.

  Jimbo fished the apple out of his pocket and smiled. Christ, was this pathetic? A 78 year old man still getting an adrenaline rush from stealing a damn apple? He really didn’t care. All he knew was that he felt alive. For at least these few moments, he knew that he was still alive.

   He sat down on the park bench and slipped easily into his old man shtick. He sat on the bench, stared wistfully into the middle distance, pretended that he was thinking about Esmeralda, the girl he met just before he shipped out. Shipped out for where? It didn’t matter. If anyone in the park did talk to him, they didn’t listen to what he said anyway, he could say he was a colonel in the Peloponnesian Army, and they would smile and nod knowingly. Douchebags.

   He took a bite of the apple. A Fuji. His favorite. A stolen apple always tasted better anyway, but a stolen Fuji was truly the food of the Gods. He thought back to several minutes earlier, when he had actually stolen the apple. He was pretty proud of himself. He had walked into that bodega, shot the shit with the clerk, wandered around a bit, and when the clerk wasn’t looking, snatched the apple and dropped it into his pocket. Then he would make a little more chit-chat, perhaps throw in a sentence to make the clerk think that he was senile(something about Elvis as if he was still alive and young, or some reference to the 70’s as if they were currently happening), and then go on his merry way.

   Did the clerk know that he had stolen the apple? Never suspected a thing. Jim was simply too quick for him to catch. He still had it. He no longer remembered when he started stealing the apple every morning (except Sunday, of course)…It was probably shortly after he was released from jail the last time. Christ, what was that? 18 years ago?  Could it be that long? He did it mostly to keep himself sharp, for when the next job came down the pike. He knew it was not a question of “if”, but “when” he was back on a crew, stealing something from somebody. His reflexes had to be sharp. Getaway driving was an art.

   Sure, it had been awhile now, but he knew that his name was still out there, he was still a legend in the right places, and someday soon, he would get that call. And when the call came, he would be ready. That’s why he stole the apple every morning. And it’s why he would casually lift women’s purses off of park benches, and hop into cars left empty and running in front of a pizza place or dry cleaner and take them for a drive. It was all about honing the skills, sharpening the reflexes. Jimbo “Fingers” Mahoney would rise again someday. They wouldn’t remember the Zale’s heist forever; someone would give him another shot.

    His angle was priceless. If anyone thought they caught him stealing, he would simply start acting disoriented. He would ask about war bonds, or about the Brooklyn Dodgers, and people would just let him wander away, felling sorry for him. Idiots.

   He was awakened from his reverie by someone touching him on the arm. He looked to his left to see a punk kid, maybe twenty five years old, looking at him with a goofy grin on his face.

   “Enjoying that apple?” he asked.

Jimbo nodded and smiled. “Sure am,” he answered slowly,” it’s a Fuji. Best damn apple you can buy.”

 “Really?” the punk smiled at him. “Best you can buy? That so?” He sat down next to Jimbo.

“Sure thing. Some people might say a gala, or a Granny Smith. But those people are fools. I always go for a Fuji. Juicy, crisp, fantastic.”

  “Why, you oughta work for the Fuji Council or something, the way you talk about them apples.”

“Well, I don’t know about that…”

“Sure you could. In fact, you did such a good job of talking up those Fuji apples, that I feel the need to eat one right now. Why don’t you go over to that bodega and get me one, old timer?”

 “Do I know you? You want me to buy you an apple, young man? Why would I do that?”

 “I didn’t say anything about you buying me an apple, old man. I asked you to go GET me one.” He smiled a big smile at Jimbo, and arched an eyebrow.

“I’m afraid I don’t know what you are talking about. I’m just sitting here trying to eat my apple in the park. What do you think Mayor Koch would think about you hassling me here in this park?”

  The boy started laughing. It started low and slow, and built to damn near a guffaw. He almost sounded like a braying mule.

  “Ed Koch ? That is rich, my friend. That is fucking golden! So, now I’m supposed to believe that you are just a senile old man?”

  “I’m afraid I don’t know what you are talking about.”

“Yeah? Well, I’m afraid that you do. You know exactly what I’m talking about. You STOLE that apple from that bodega; just like you have every day for God knows how long.”

 Jimbo just stared at him. What was the angle here? He did not work for the bodega; he was probably too young to own the bodega. Why did he care about a stolen apple, or a hundred or a thousand stolen apples? Was he some sort of moralist crusader? A beret-less Guardian Angel? He decided to play dumb a bit longer, see if this pissant might show his hand. He was guessing that by the exchange so far, patience was not this idiot’s strong suit.

   “I don’t know what you mean. I paid a nickel for this apple, just like I have every day for the last 20 years. Since my dad brought me here when I was 5 years old. I’m not sure what your problem is, or who it’s with, but it’s not me, so I would suggest you leave me alone, or I will call a policeman.” Even Jimbo had a hard time keeping a straight face through the last line, but he did it. The punk ran his hands over his face in exasperation.

  “Look. Cut it out. I know you steal the apples. I know this. I have seen it. The guy who runs the bodega knows it, too.”

  “The hell he does! That little shit wouldn’t know it if I stole his damn glasses of his damn face! I…” Jimbo immediately knew that he had been gotten. The look on the punk’s face went from exasperation to exultation in a split second. Jimbo looked down at the apple. The wheels started turning. What happens now? He tried to figure out which way to go now. Threaten the kid? Probably not wise. He really didn’t have any means by which to bribe the kid. He took the last bite of the apple and turned his gaze to his interrogator.

 “Okay…So what now?” he asked. He couldn’t think of anything else to say. The kid’s eyes went wide; his pupils ballooned up like he had just eaten a sheet of high powered blotter acid.

   “Holy shit. Is it really you? Are you him ? “Fingers” Mahoney?”

  Jimbo could not believe his ears. THIS kid knew who he was? Talk about when you least expect something. “I might be.” Jimbo answered and he threw the apple over his shoulder. “What does that matter?”

   “What does it matter? The greatest getaway driver in history is sitting on a bench next to me, and he asks what it matters. Check out this guy over here.” He pushed Jimbo on the shoulder. Jimbo dropped his head and went into “aw shucks” mode, literally.

 “Aw shucks, kid. What the fuck are you talking about? Greatest getaway driver…Get outta here.”Which, of course, translated to: Tell me what’s so great about me. Tell me right now.

   “You kidding? You are a god-damned legend around here, man. They still talk about how you got from Battery Park to that shack in Nyack in under an hour. I mean what the hell? That shit is pure magic!”
 Jimbo smiled. ”It took a bit more than an hour, but it was still pretty damn fast.” They both laughed, and then the uncomfortable silence descended upon them. Where does it got from here?

  “So, my name is Chris.” He extended his hand to Jimbo. Jimbo took it and they shook hands forcefully.

  “Nice to meet you, Chris.”

  “And you, too, sir. Say, you still driving?” Chris asked, in a semi-hushed voice.

Jimbo smiled. He was right. He knew that opportunity would knock for him again. This was his shot, with this little red-headed punk.

  ‘I am” he answered.” Why, you need a driver?”

  “I might. I might. What if I was to tell you…Purely hypothetical here, of course. But what if I was to say that there is a warehouse where they, on occasion, end up with rather large amounts of money? And furthermore, what if I was to tell you that I may, hypothetically, of course, know when this specific warehouse will again have this large influx of cash?”

  “That would be hypothetically interesting” Jimbo said, smiling.

“It would, wouldn’t it?” Chris agreed. “Well, I also hypothetically have someone with the intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the warehouse. I have someone who knows how to get in and out of the warehouse, and I have the man power and the fire power necessary to extricate the money from the warehouse.”

  “Then, I would think that you, hypothetically, need someone to drive to and from the warehouse.”Jimbo said.

 “Hypothetically, you would be correct.” Chris said. “I will be in touch.” And he got up and walked away.

  Jimbo smiled, exhaled deeply, and went over to the bodega to get himself another apple.

3 comments:

B.E. Earl said...

Very cool. Makes me want to know what happens next. :)

Paticus said...

Earl- Me too.
Thanks for reading it,and for the compliment.

Anonymous said...

Damn I was going to buy a new Hummer in late 2012 and drive around the country for a vacation, Now I am going to have to shave my head and join the Hari.s, Muslims, Jews, Jehovah s, Mormons, Christians, and a few other wing nut groups just to cover all my bases.
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