Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Break (Part 8)

     I'd called the game spot on, but missed by a mile when it came to competence.

     There were no dark-suited Eastern European thugs with Glocks waiting in the shadows, but instead a hillbilly harpy with bad hearing, hollering that she'd get a lawyer, she weren't puttin' up with this shit, if that Hunky bitch wanted her goddamn visa back she could go get a lawyer, an' she didn't have the money for a goddamn lawyer, now did she?
     The lawyer we found, in about fifteen minutes on a pay phone in a drug store, was already familiar with Mrs. Wellow, the "brains" behind the operation.  He had assisted in placing her in jail or prison on a half-dozen occasions, and her two sons a similar number of times each.
     The Wellow family operated like any other set of white slavers, luring young women to jobs as "escorts" or "companions" and confiscating their visas, rendering their ability to get different employment or have freedom of movement null.  By not paying them, the girls were prevented from even traveling to the various consulates in Los Angeles.
      The lawyer we dealt with, a Mr. Rodriguez, harbored a bemused loathing of the Wellow family.  A second-generation immigrant, he charged the girls $10 to get their visas back, often paid on "credit," then he'd have a conversation with the District Attorney, who would arrest the Wellows yet again.  Antonio Rodriguez, esquire, hated anyone who exploited immigrants.  About once a year he could get the feds to come up and assist him, but the rest of the time he was reliant on Santa Barbara PD, which did as little as fucking possible to fight serious crime, preferring to make small-scale pot busts around the UCSB campus.

     The lawyer made a deal with Mrs. Wellow: he'd wait till the next day to have the family arrested so she could have her dogs boarded, so long as the visas were returned to their rightful owners that day.  He had already retrieved Ivanka's visa.
     There was one large problem: a monstrous hick by the name of Tom Wellow (his brother seemed to have taken to the hills, as it were) who had come to collect the tip money from Ivanka.  With a sad look, she prepared to hand it over....
     .....before it was snatched away from Ivanka by me.  Lil' Abner wasn't amused.  "Imma git that money, freak!" The lawyer reminded Tom of the trouble he was already in; he may as well have been speaking Venusian.  There was a whole $260 on the line: not much to me, but important bucks to Ivanka.  Fuck that cracker, he wasn't a penny of her cash.  His size was the tiniest problem, though.
     "She loaned it to me.  Try to get it back," I told him.  I gave him a gut shot; I may as well have punched a side of beef.  He punched me on the side of the head, dropping me.  I was loopy, down for the count.  Tom Wellow stood over me smiling.... Only I had one ace in the hole: he didn't plan ahead  He was standing with his feet on each side of my legs....  So I kicked him in the balls like I was going for a seventy-yard field goal.
     His eyes got huge, and he froze.  I used one foot to push him sideways, so he wouldn't crush me when he fell.  His ability to breathe went to hell, and vomit began foaming out of his mouth.  Despite my own impending headache, I still had the cash and I could walk.

Then I had a thought.

I turned to the lawyer and asked, "Counsel, could you turn away from this gentleman's car (a late-model Lincoln that screamed "used limo") for about twenty seconds?  It'll keep him off the street for quite a while longer."  The lawyer stared at me, then at Tom, and pointedly faced out at the street.
     I got the pistol out of my boot, opened the rear door, and placed the gun under the floor mat of the back seat, wiping it on my shirt first.  I didn't like the idea of carrying a gun, and now it would go to good use.  Tom was still lying on his side holding his crotch, trying to remember how his lungs worked.  He'd be hurting for days.  Good.
     "When the cops show up, tell them to check the interior.  They might find interesting things."
     "Such as....?"
     I stared at the houses across the street and shrugged.  "I'm not sure.  Just a hunch that this man is a very violent man, and should not be on the streets.  He may be in possession of weapons, you never know."
     Looking at me out of the corner of his eye, the lawyer said, "So.  If one were to speculate, what may or may not be found in Tom's Lincoln there?"
     "Purely out of speculation --- after all, you're an officer of the courts, so I'm not about to incriminate myself---- excuse me...."
     Tom Wellow was trying to struggle to his feet, and the last thing I wanted was Tom Wellow ambulatory.  I said, "Look away, counsel," and drove the toe of a boot into his solar plexus.  If this kept up he may forget how to breathe completely.  He was a white slaver and rapist, so the sooner he stopped breathing was fine with me.
     "Counsel, this man seems reckless enough to carry a stolen firearm in his vehicle.  Of course, this is strictly a hunch on my part...."
      The Wellow family seemed uncomfortably familiar to the Santa Barbara cops..... Like they were the sort of white trash family that had chronic barking-dog complaints, and not for being the serious felons they were.  We were treated with a dismissive  "yeah, we know" manner, as though human trafficking was a nuisance call, not a major crime.  "Oh, those wacky white slave traders, what are ya gonna do?" seemed to be the general attitude.  I got the feeling that if there wasn't a  lawyer presesnt, they would have told us to fuck off.  I began to understand why lvanka referred to that town as a hell.

      In a way, Ivanka Kovnik of Romania had walked into her situation with her eyes side open: she knew she was going to be doing sex work.  However, she was also being expected to be paid for her work, which she wasn't.  She demanded her money, which earned her several rapes at the hands of the Wellow boys, which were treated as nuisance calls by the local pigs.  She had no problem with doing sex work, so long as there were no assaults: That simplified matters greatly: .... working as a nude dancer and booth girl in San Francisco was the natural move.  As soon as we were clear of Santa Barbara --- changing motels each night until we were; we kept both Ivanka and an aluminum baseball bat as close as possible for those few days  Bekka and I carried bats, with Ivanka  in possession of two baseballs as an excuse: who's to say we weren't off to whack a hardball around?  This town had me paranoid, though, and even downtown San Francisco would would seem relaxing.  SFPD had an unsavory reputation but not one of utter corruption.  It took all of three minutes of discussion for Ivanka to see the logic in this plan, and she readily agreed: getting naked for horny men in a plexiglas booth, for hundreds of dollars a day, was something she could do with a smile.
     After our final day of interviews with the District Attorney, I fueled up and the the three of us headed towards what was the Promised Land for Ivanka, San Francisco ("Never 'Frisco.' always 'San Francisco' or The City',"  I explained to Ivanka.  "Frisco is an insult, like 'Hunky'.")
     I spotted trouble south of the tunnels at Gaviota State Park in the form of a black Lincoln coming up fast from behind. He was dangerous in that he didn't care about his driving style, he simply wanted through traffic in order to crush me with his Lincoln.  I was guessing the news from the D.A. hadn't been good, and he wanted revenge.  I had wrecked their business and put his ma in jail so he was gonna kill me.  Ever since arriving in that county, that had been something of a theme.
     We could outrun him in a moment, but needed room to do so.  Both lanes were blocked coming out of the tunnel, with a travel trailer trying to pass an RV on the right.  The Lincoln pulled up along side.  I saw his plan immediately: knock me into the canyon on my left.
     Fuck that.
     I looked Tom in the eyes and gave him the finger.  Bekka gave me a horrified look, as if I'd written everything off and was going out with one last parting shot.  But there was rationale to this insult.  Tom Wellow  had demonstrated a lack of good sense and patience, and could be counted on to fly off the handle....
      ....And I was right.  In his rage he hit the gas and swung the wheel.  I locked up my brakes, then let up and swerved right, missing the ass-end of the spinning Lincoln by a couple inches.  I could hear his fender rubbing against his tire.
     He wasn't giving up.  I settled up against the rear of the trailer and gave it a shove, causing it to fishtail badly.  The driver pulled toward his left, allowing me a clear shot between him and the camper.  Tom was attempting the same maneuver, only in a much more brutal way: he was bashing into the rear of the camper, trying to bounce him out of the way.  Like most American drivers, the RV driver's reaction to any confusing situation was to hit the brakes and scream.
     This worked to our advantage. The Lincoln's game of bumper cars had wasted so much time we'd put a good quarter mile distance between the Lincoln and the Falcon.  Tom finally figured out the lane to his left was clear, pulled out, and laid into it again.  I didn't understand what Ivanka was saying, but it probably translated to "Dear God, I don't wish to die this way. " Both Bekka and Ivanka were watching behind us in spellbound horror.
     Tom was doomed, but didn't know it or didn't care.  I had relaxed, cooling back down to about eighty, when I saw him coming up from behind again.  "Stubborn fuck," I muttered and opened it up again.... When I saw the smoke coming off his front left tire.  He'd knocked the fender into the center of his tread, which was cutting the tire in half....
    ..... And the tire went off like a grenade, lifting the left corner off the ground, then dropping it into the ditch.  He slid at about seventy-five into several fence posts, then ended abruptly at a telephone pole.  I brought the Falcon to a sliding stop a couple hundred yards ahead.
     "Wait here," I told Bekka and Ivanka.  I grabbed a bat and began jogging back down the highway.  Fifty yards away I threw the bat into the ditch and kept walking forward.  Tom Wellow had learned about wearing one's seat belt in a very direct way: he'd gone through the glass head-first.  He had driven his own shoulder down to the level of his hip, and left much of his face either scraped through the glass or dragged along the pole.  His glory days of thieving and raping were now at an end.
     I stood there with my arms crossed, staring at his corpse.  Other motorists had stopped and were shooing looky-loos away, due to the gore.  "Good riddance, you rapist shit, and I hope your balls still hurt," I muttered.   Then I walked back to the Falcon.
     "Lost control.  Wasn't wearing belts.  Your brother did this car right," I said by way of explanation.  "Beyond that, I'll say he basically tore himself in half and the world lost one evil piece of shit.  Would you concur, Ivanka?"
     "I .... would.... I do not, ah...."
    "Tom was a very bad man.  Very bad, yes?"
     "Oh yes  Tom was an evil man."  She frowned and said, "He deserved to die, and shall be ground in the wheels of hell."

     I pulled back onto the pavement and brought it up to a nice respectable 65 mph.  A shaky hand from the back seat  rested itself on my shoulder and an accented voice said, "You drive very well.  Tom would have killed us.  You have saved us."
     "That's why he does all the driving," said Bekka, looking back at Ivanka.  "This is actually my car."
     "There have been a few.... situations.... where having Lenny be at the wheel has been the right thing.  As you just saw, Lenny is one hell of a driver."
     Ivanka  said, "This car, it would cost a great amount in Romania.  Both for its ability for speed, and because it is.... Special.  It is a vehicle to be shown off. as well as driven.  To drive it every day, as you do, would be considered extravagant.  I have enjoyed the opportunity to ride in it..  There are Ford clubs all over Europe; to say that I have been a passenger in.... in...."
     "A 1964 Ford Falcon, four-speed, 289 V-8 with a Holley four-barrel carburetor, road-rodded tranny and suspens---- "
     "Wait!" laughed Ivanka.  You will have to write all this down, I will not remember.  But it is a unique --- is that the right word? ---- "
     "Yes, you have that right."
     "A unique car.  There are men who would trade their Ferraris for a car such as this.  The rarity, you see, and the custom work done to it would, in Eastern Europe, make this a much more valuable vehicle to a collector."  She laughed.  "Young men, they would forgo sex just for the chance to drive this car for one hour."
     Bekka smiled and said, "Perhaps you can live out some young man's dream.  You know how to drive, right?"
     "Oh, yes.  Yes I do."
     "We'll find an empty parking lot tomorrow for you to warm up in, and you can take over the driving for a while."
     The look of pleasure she had can't be described.  "And tomorrow night, I shall make love with both of you!"
     Hopefully the sight of Tom Wellow's twisted body would be out of my mind.


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