“That can’t be,” Alma Gutierrez said, shaking her head.
“Why not?” Hank Dixon shot back. “It makes money for the university and they get to, you know, what do you call it they do in college … field work, I guess you’d say.”
The two were standing in the laundry room of the Eden Arms. Dixon was installing a new drive belt on one of the dryers. She’d been walking by and he’d called her inside. The handyman continued, “Look, I’m not saying this is for sure, since it comes secondhand.”
“But this man, this gambling friend of your nephew is a lawyer?” The widow Gutierrez didn’t approve of card playing or betting on the horses. Her deceased husband had a gambling habit and more than once had lost the rent money chasing the ponies or doubling down in blackjack.
“Yeah,” Dixon answered while continuing his repair work.
“Ain’t that about nothing,” Macy Farmdale said. “Nine to zip, including the so-called liberals.” She shook her head. “What chance does the working woman have, I ask you.”
Jess Dixon said, “It’s all about keeping the big conveyor belt going, Macy. Us peasants have no choice but to fight and scrabble each day for our rice and beans.”
“Sheeet,” her friend sneered.
The two chuckled mirthlessly. They lamented the recent Supreme Court ruling wherein employees were expected to go through their end of shift security screenings on their own time—no matter if it took five minutes or half an hour.
Farmdale leaned across the lunch table toward the other woman. “This is why we need a union,” she whispered. She leaned back and had more of her chicken salad sandwich.
Jess hunched her shoulders. “That wouldn’t change the ruling. I bet them unions filed, you know,
“Man, what can I do?” DeMarkus Williamson paced, hands on his hips, head down. He was dressed in oversized basketball shorts and a tee.
“Teaflake doesn’t strike me as the forgiving sort.” Little Joe said. “But then again, you didn’t steal his money. He’s a logical cat.”
“Still,” the young man said, gesturing with his hands. “It was my girl that done it, and like he’s gonna believe I wasn’t in on it.”
“How much are we talking about?”
“She made off with a shade over twelve grand. Settin’ me up to be the chump.”
“Shit,” Little Joe said, whistling.
The two were in a rear bedroom in a clapboard house in Richmond. Out a translucent-curtained window, the metal spires of the century-old Chevron refinery could be seen in the near distance. Recently the progressives in the city, outspent mightily to the tune of $3 million by Big Oil backing its hand-picked candidates,
Little Joe had two cowboys, two kings and there was a third king face up on the table. They were playing Texas Hold’em and it had turned up on the flop—the first three cards laid down with two more to go. These were the common cards each player could try and make a hand. In Hold’em, you could play only one card of your two down ones or, if everybody had crap, all could play the five that eventually wound up in the middle of the table. At the moment, his three kings was a pretty good hand to have.
“I’ll see you fifty and I’ll bump it fifty,” Joanie Kriss said confidently. Of the three cards face up on deck, two were clubs. That might mean she had two clubs of her own and was chasing the fifth card in suit to make a flush … or was bluffing. The stakes were not Vegas level;
The two uniformed cops from Southwest Station who’d remained behind stood off to one side as residents of the Eden Arms and their neighbors continued to speculate about the shooting. Various theories were voiced but there was agreement of a sort on some facts derived from the eyewitnesses. A late model Toyota, or it could have been a Honda, rounded the far corner at a normal rate of speed. The vehicle slowed as it approached mid-block where the Arms was located. A smoked passenger window slid down some and a barrel of a gun was then rested on the window. Blam, blam, blam went the gunfire and the car roared away. The odd thing was, the weapon didn’t seem aimed at the few pedestrians around. Rather it seemed to be pointed upward.
The cops speculated the bullet that took out the window to the laundry room was a ricochet, possibly off the metal casing of the switch box on one of the telephone poles.