The Boy in the Bin

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35) RINGS AND THINGS

Raphael/Ratso visited his friends on Wednesday. He took the usual route on the subway until he got off at the Penn Station stop. Upon arriving, he went to their standard meeting place and could tell the regulars were present; plus two new faces. One of the guys standing slightly away from the gang wore a weird mask on his face.

“Hey Ratso,” Zipper said. “Good to meet up with you.”

“I needed to nmake this ntrip,” Ratso acknowledged. “I haven’t seen nyou guys for so nlong.”

“We got a little worried about you,” Sammy pointed out. “I flunked again and have to repeat the grade. I couldn’t find you in any classes and I thought you changed schools again.”

“I’m in Junior High now,” he boasted. “I’m in a ndifferent nbuilding, but I ngot a ngirlfriend now.”

“I want you to meet some new friends,” Sammy declared. “This here is Flash. He’s a friend of Zipper’s. He got his name because he likes to expose himself to old ladies.”

“Expose himself?” Ratso gasped. “I don’t understand nwhat nthat nmeans.”

“He likes to show his dick dummy,” he shot back, “you know, a quick flash. And this guy here, you may recognize.”

The kid with the mask came over and faced Ratso. When he removed his mask, the face belonged to none other than his cousin Johnny. A mix of surprise and joy came over Ratso’s face.

“Johnny,” he shouted. “Wow. What a surprise. You never come over to my house.”

“I can’t,” Johnny said. “My mom and your dad got into some kind of beef. I’m lucky I can even get out of the house. On top of everything else, the old lady makes me go to church with her.”

They all stood around talking for a while and finally Sammy asked what they wanted to do. Zipper, as usual, wanted to grab a chick and Flash nodded in agreement. McPuke, naturally, wanted to do his favorite thing, snatch purses. And Bozo wanted to light something up.

“Tell me about this girlfriend of yours,” Sammy cackled. “Has she got some titties?”

Ratso blushed and with a smile nodded ‘Yes’. He told Sammy he wanted to get her a ring and wondered if he would help him.

“I checked this nstore out one day,” Ratso claimed. “It’s down on 3rd Avenue, near nmy house. I don’t nthink nthey put any cameras in nthere.”

“All stores got cameras Ratso,” Sammy advised. “You’ve got to figure out how to beat them.”

The other guys seemed interested too. The always seemed to do the same things when they got together. Today offered a chance to do something different. Sammy laid out a plan sounding like pure architecture.

“Ratso goes into the store first,” he lectured. “When the guy brings out the rings to show him, we all stream in one by one and move to different parts inside. The old codger will not be too worried about Ratso because he’s small. He will probably come over and question us about why we are in the store. Ratso grabs the rings and we all dash out in different directions. We can split them up later when we meet back at Penn Station.

“I nhave to ntake ALL nthe rings?” Ratso questioned.

“Yea, man,” Johnny insisted, “grab the whole tray. To make you feel safer, I’ll stay outside and act as a lookout.”

“Does the store employ any chicks?” Zipper wondered.

“No,” Ratso replied, “only a nlittle old nman with a thing on his head.”

The time on the clock indicated late in the afternoon. The hustle-bustle of traffic would give them some protection from being chased by the police. Ratso only worried about cameras. Sammy said all stores use hidden cameras. He lectured him to keep his head down when he went into the store.

“The camera can’t eyeball your face with your head down.” Sammy bragged.

The plan sounded good. They headed out and gathered at the entrance of the jewelry store. Ratso peeked in the window and verified the old man sitting alone in the store. He walked in, to the chime of a bell, and proceeded to the counter.

“I nwas here before,” he explained, “and nyou showed me a pretty ring for under $ 200 in the case. Do nyou still offer one in nthat price range?”

“We keep lots of rings in stock Sonny,” the old man admitted. “Here, let me show you.”

He pulled the case out of the display cabinet and showed Ratso the selections one at a time. “Ding’ went the bell as Zipper walked in and went to the cabinet with the men’s timepieces. Ratso picked up a ring and examined the quality carefully. From his perspective, the ring appeared to fit a teenage girl, but Ratso forgot to get an estimate of Eve’s finger size.

“Do you know what size she wears?” the old man inquired.

“No,” he apologized, “I nforgot to ask her.”

“Perhaps you would like this one,” he motioned, showing another item. “The band is adjustable so a wide range of sizes are available and your lady can change any finger she wears the ring on.”

Raphael picked up the ring to examine it as the door chime went off again. This time Sammy and Bozo came in the door. They headed to the other side of the store where a display of engagement rings glistened in the counter.

“Would you excuse me?” he broke in. “I need to check what these boys want.”

Ratso nodded and the man walked off to greet his potential customers. As he approached, the door opened up again and McPuke entered. As soon as McPuke saw the man walking in his direction, he panicked and ran out, slamming the door behind him. This freaked out Zipper and he headed for the door also.

Ratso scooped up all the rings in the display case and shoved them in his deep pockets. Sammy charged at the old man and pushed him down. All four ran outside, spreading in all directions like a nest of cockroaches when the light turned on.

Mr. Sandez showed up at Raul’s office unexpectedly. He carried a large, plain white banker’s box with the marking ‘Audit Control Box One’ on the side and end of the box.

“Where do you want this?” he quizzed Raul. “This is the first of the ‘product’ boxes we talked about.”

“Let me put this in the supply room,” Raul decided. “I’m the only one with a key.”

He took the box and walked down the hallway, and placed the valuable container securely inside and locked the door. When he returned, Sandez sat with a Glock automatic handgun in his lap. Raul stopped in his tracks, being taken back because he never got up close and personal with guns before.

“I wanted to show you this Raul,” Sandez crowed. “I call this my little enforcer. This is a Glock Seventeen. The clip holds 15 rounds and the gun itself is very accurate. If I must do any enforcement, I usually start by shooting the feet, the hands, the knees, the balls and elsewhere; wherever I can cause the most pain.”

“Wwhy aare yyou shshowing mme yyour ggun?” Raul stuttered.

“I wanted you to take a peek at what you would be up against,” he warned, “just in case you decide to pull a fast one on me.”

“I told you,” Raul groaned, “I’m not going to do anything to upset our ‘business deal’. Do I appear stupid to you?”

Sandez put the handgun away and Raul relaxed. He told Raul he only wanted to get his point across and now his impression had been made. He explained how the transaction would work. He would send a courier around in a day , after hours. Raul would be expected to stay in the office until at least 6 P.M. to wait for him. The courier would give Raul an envelope with $10,000 cash inside, pick up the box of ‘product’ and be gone. Simple.

“Your plan sounds reasonable to me,” Raul agreed. “I’m here until 6 P.M. most nights anyway.”

They concluded their business and Sandez left. Raul sat smiling because he would soon stuff a pocketful of money in his pants, he now sat on more Cocaine than required for his immediate needs and he would meet Marcia, who mentioned she intended to come over tonight and give him a quickie.

Ratso returned first to Penn Station. He was nervous because he carried 15 gold and silver rings in his pockets and all the time he ran, they kept jangling inside of his coat. Eventually, the rest of the boys arrived and the time came to split up their ‘pirate’s booty’.

“I only nwant this one,” Ratso stated. “You guys can nhave the rest.”

Sammy, McPuke, Flash, Zipper and Johnny all looked through the remaining rings. Sammy told the gang to all keep one each if they wanted and the rest they would sell. None of the rings would fit them and they sold them all and split the money.

“So now you got a ring for your girl,” Zipper encouraged. “Does this mean you’re going to be getting laid?”

“I hope so,” Ratso smiled. “We’re njust going to ngo steady for now. She’s nreally a nice girl.”

But the ‘Nice Guys’ are the ones who finish last.

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