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Dollar Joe Chapter 4
Bro
Jake was standing on the scaffolding next to the Foreman—Neal, the first foreman he could stand in some while, a good man who appreciated Jake's building and framing talent but was a little critical of his finishing skills. That was alright. Since the car accident, Jake’s head went into a fog some-times and he tended to miss cosmetic details. But structurally, it was well known, that he was about the best carpenter in the Union.
On the roof, Jorge and Jose were joining the frame according to his instructions. The worth-less fucking laborers lounged unseen somewhere below while the pile of plywood they should be hauling to the scaffold base sat on the pallet on the sidewalk. Elsewhere, Ali, the dirty Muslim, was sniffing around Jake’s lunchbox and calling up to him in his whining way, “Jake, you wife pack you additional?”
The foreman, Neal, a good ol’ boy and ex-army officer who talked about nothing but hunting, grinned and quipped, “Sure glad we didn't kill all of those fuckers. He's about as useful as tits on a boar. But if he was still squatting in front of his wattle and daub hut you’d be fat as a house with all the chow your wife packs you.”
“Why not,” Jake said to Neal, and then yelled down to Ali, “Pork Chop and bacon sandwiches. Just take one, Ali.”
“Oh, thank you Mister Jake—thank Mrs. Jake too...I love pork. I will bring hummus one day!”
“Yeah, Ali—holding my breath!”
“Meatball without the sauce at Nine-O'clock,” whispered Neal.
Jake straddled the scaffold and the eave, about to get up there and correct that dumb fuck Jorge, hammer in hand, then turned and noted that the MMA gym across the street, that had been board-ed up since the ’vid hit last year was being mourned by another meathead reading the no-tice, peeking between the boards like there might be a speakeasy for knuckleheads within.
He shook his head and twirled his hammer and hooked it on his belt, “You know Neal, if your shithead superintendent shut this job down a year ago, I would call ahead before I showed up with my tools. How many times have these assholes been hit in the head? They ought to get a real job anyway.”
“Jorge, what the fuck—bro! Put the fucking nail gun down—step away from the j—Jesus!”
Neal groaned, “Go show ’em again, Posner—better yet, just do it.”
Jake Posner cursed the INS for the thousandth time and headed up to the top of the A-frame to give another clinic on why you bolt structural materials together rather than nail them.
Ten minutes later, with Jorge's oath of honor that he understood ringing clear as mud in his ears, Jake stepped back down on the scaffold next to Neal, who stood dumbfounded, looking down at the sidewalk and said, without turning, hands on his hip, “Monkey [his carpentry name, used when addressing serious workplace issues] what the sideways fuck am I looking at?”
Jake stood and narrated the activity of the primates below: Joel, the transsexual safety officer is documenting the activity—and might I say his new C-cups look perfect. Said activity consists of Ali finishing Jenn’s pork and bacon sandwich while he licks his fingers, next to the worthless fucking Nigerian laborers, who are drinking your Rainier as they all watch a strange man, who you probably should have hired in the first place, move the plywood from the hitherto inaccessible pallet to the once unreachable base of our fucking build.”
Neal wiped his brow with the back of his hand, “Thank God—I thought I was hallucinating. Was about to swear off the whiskey. That would have been tragic. Go sort it out, Posner.”
The blonde meathead in the million dollar Gore-Tex mountain climbing boots and the ragged BDUs, was hauling a sheet of plywood over his head, up from the street, while four able-bodied men and one busybody tranny watched. He stopped dead when he looked up to see Jake blocking his way in a combative pose with his hands on his hips, “Bro, what the fuck?”
The man stopped and looked at him and Jake noticed that he was weathered like a homeless guy, dressed too good for a tweaker camp and had a bashed-in left eye, like he had been batonned and booted by the cops. His heart went out to this guy, and he could imagine that his father would have hired him on the spot and fired the rest of these fuckers. But his job was his job.
“Bro, set the plywood down.”
The man set it down on its edge carefully and Jake said, “Let it fall to the right.”
The man let it fall and this was documented by Joel the Safety Bot.
This guy was only a couple years older than his eldest son and his heart hurt. So he walked up to him, put his arm around his shoulder and said, “Bro, this is a union job site. You can't just walk on.”
The kid ground his teeth and shrugged and asked, “How long the gym been closed?”
“We haven’t seen them in a year. Why?”
“The man offered me a job once—we were on the same card in Tacoma a while back.”
They were walking down to the street, with Jake’s arm on his shoulder and the guy felt un-naturally hard and sounded sadly broken. They stopped at the curb next to the plywood pallet where this guy’s backpack was and Jake said, “Look, come back here at 3:30. It’s about 11:00 now, and I’ll talk to you about finding work. I know people. You have money for lunch?”
The guy shrugged like it didn't matter and Jake felt Jenn’s heart shrink in the back of his mind. His wife was the sweetest Christian woman in the world and she would insist on helping this kid out. He took out the ten bucks he had for the six-pack to drink on the drive home and put it in the kid’s hand.
The kid nodded a thanks and Jake extended his hand, “Bro, my name is Jake, Jake Posner—see you at three-thirty. I'll make some calls on my lunch since this greasy fucking haji here has al-ready eaten both my sandwiches.”
And sure enough Ali was stuffing the second sandwich down, preparing another refugee starvation story for him by way of excuse.
“Thanks, Mister Jake,” and Jake had to get back into work mode, “Don't thank me, Bro. You set foot on the Posner Plantation en you bes’ set your mind ta workin’!”
The man grinned and picked up his pack and nodded as he walked east on Martin Luther King.
Jake walked to the base of the scaffold and looked up at Neal, who was shaking his head in dismay. So he spread his arms below and said, “What?”
Neal snarled, “Charity is one thing—but your beer money?”
He shrugged, picked up the plywood and got to work hauling the material from the sidewalk and stacking it on the lift while the laborers watched and Ali inquired, “Mister Jake, you no like chewy chocolate chip granola bar?”
“No, Ali, I’m on a diet. Neal’s orders.”
Ali whined with avarice, “Oh, Mister Neal is very wise! I will bring hummus...one day.”
“Sure, Ali, sure.”
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