Johnny and the Gang
Johnny was what you might call a clumsy bad-boy, that is to say, he wasn’t like the motorcycle gang who committed grisly crimes, but he wasn’t innocent either. And he owed a few members $6000-dollars in gambling depths. Harvey, the leader of the bunch of criminals–with their monstrous chrome motorcycles–had hung a man in Alaska for owing less, for what they considered less than this crime of owing money anyhow. This monstrously strong and obsessed man manipulated, rapped and lured young girls to their doom. Johnny had overheard a lot of his crimes, just drinking and playing cards with them; they’d take him to what they called their ‘After-hours-bar,’ at someone’s house. He had also witnessed unspeakable sexual abuses, and during a few occasions barely escaped having to commit crimes with them. On the other hand, he dated a waitress from another bar, one the gang hung out at, more so than the ‘Due-Drop-Inn,’ while Jill worked. And Tasma reluctantly continued to work part time at the Due-Drop-Inn, in lack of no other job.
Harvey’s friend, Randall was given the job to collect the money, or take his girl Jill and put her fingers and hands through a ringer-washing machine, which would brake them all up, leaving them disfigured for the rest of her life; this was an old way of maiming someone, but still allowing them to be functional with the other hand, and yet feeling the pain
Randall at one time was a gifted athlete until he got mixed up with the gang; he was drafted by a pro football team. Chosen by a known magazine as a centerfold, and worked in bars occasionally as a bouncer.
–In consequence, he lusted for unspeakable submission and violent vengeance, it was his high in life, and if it was women, men or beast, he was after–it was all the same to him.
And so, on one prearranged night they met and he told Johnny:
“My list of victims grows, and the police can’t catch me, and convict me, if they could, they would. And no matter how ugly my crimes may be in the future, I will not be a suspect very long, so I suggest you pay within ten days.”
Not many people could put fear into Johnny’s heart, but he did, in a horrified kind of way. It was but twenty-four hours after that meeting Johnny left for Minnesota in fear of this killing machine.
–It happened to be, Jill knew nothing of this meeting only a ting about owing money, but she did not connect that to his leaving; or Johnny’s fear of Randall; she knew only that he wanted to go back to Minnesota, perhaps because of the tension in the house, and she was to follow thereafter. In the meantime, Randall was apprehended on another conviction in which he made a detailed confession for less time to serve, and shocked the police department of what he had to say.
Johnny grabbed his check, $255-dollars, told Jill he’d send for her and caught the first bus to Minnesota, quicker than a heart beat. No, he did not explain, or really even tell her he owed the sum of over $6000-dollars to the gang members, he felt a bit unsafe to, escape was his only passion for the moment, nothing else.
[St. Paul, Minnesota] –Johnny, was riding his friend’s car, Jeff’s, by the Old Washington High School, when he unexpectedly saw his ex-wife at a playground with his son, sliding with him down a slope; he stopped the car and hurriedly went over to the fence and gazed at her some twenty feet away. She also was somewhat taken back by his abrupt presence. It was a chilly day, but not so chilly as not to play. For some odd reason they both seemed a little unemotional looking at one another, or at least that was Johnny’s perception of Sharon. He gave kind of a stumpy dumb wave, as a clown would, as she neared the fence, now to be used as a divider between them.
“I do hope you don’t mind, but where have you been all this time, and why did you simply get up and disappear?” said Sharon with some kind of a look that said–you should never have stopped by today.
“Out of town, Washington State,” he said pointedly, and with little emotion, but for some reason, caution mixed with it all. The kind that says should I even be here. She gave a deadly smile, or a happy jeer, not sure which one it was. As they exchanged a few more words, she seemed to smile a little more, and Johnny became less guarded and smiled back (like a spider to fly).
She commented, with a luring voice: “I live right up the street on Woodbridge, in that duplex, the blue one,” Johnny looked in the direction she pointed her extended hand to, and her finger snug in a glove at it. “Do you see it?” Johnny nodded yes. “Come down tonight, maybe we can have some fun, like we used to, no strings attached if you don’t want them.” She sounded sincere thought Johnny, and so forgiving. It kind of left him confused if not down right stumbling for lost words.
“Sure,” he said with a little meditation, “what time?”
“Oh, let’s say, 10:00 PM, sounds good, the kid will be in bed, no reason to wake him up; I can stop and pick up some beer at the store, I know you like your beer; ok then.”
“Sure, why not.” He said and then quickly took off to see Jeff, an old friend from the neighborhood, who lived on the East Side of St. Paul now; as they both were living together.
[The Transformation] It was 9:45 PM, and Johnny showed up, quite attractive, and smelling like a French whore. He had a few drinks already, but not too many, just enough to insure he’d get drunk, if she only had a few beers around the house. Up the twenty stairs he walked–two at a time, kicked the snow off his feet on the second to last step. You could hear him climbing the stairs slowly, touching the wooden railing of the old wooden house; he made a lot of noise.
She opened the door automatically as if she had known before hand he was there, or in motion, on the premises. His facial expression was disclosure, as he saw her in a thin see-through-robe, with no bra on, and just panties made of white silk, her hair long and combed fluffy, her rosy cheeks with a smiling glow, her breasts showing and bare, as if she was going to eat him up. There he stood with his leather jacket on and black sweatshirt, black trousers, as if he was the blackknight.
As she invited him in, there was a wall behind her, and about two feet from her was Johnny in the hallway ready to step in–forward, she stepped back, her back against the wall now, her breasts now fully exposed, and her legs open, for some reason he hesitated, and she broke the silence (feeling she’d have to quickly implement her plan or not at all, feeling she’d had liked to had gotten him into the house more) then she grabbed Johnny pulling him against her, and slamming her back against the wall loudly so the neighbors could hear (it was a duplex and people lived downstairs), then she ripped her cloths as she grabbed Johnny, but he quickly saw it was a set up, and threw her back against the wall, jumping backwards out of her apartment, away from her reach, as she was screaming ‘Rape!’ as loud as a mad-hatter.
As he turned himself around, not thinking of who might be at the bottom of the stairs–if anybody, still confused, and in disbelief, as he hit the fifth stair from the bottom, behind the stairway came a man with a steel pipe, he jumped around the corner, hit him in the forehead, knocking Johnny flat on his back. He laid on the steps a moment, the huge man then started to hit him in the face with his fists, and somehow he got his right foot up, kicked him in the stomach, he went backwards, and then the stranger’s wife, the one who had just hit him, came out of the downstairs apartment asking: “What is going on?”
“Sharon was hollering for help,” said the man to his wife holding on to his pipe.
Then Johnny comes out with (directing it to the assailant’s wife now standing by the door of her apartment): “It was a set up, she invited me over and they set me up; your husband was part of it.” She looked at the blood coming from his forehead then asked her husband to take him to the hospital (trying to figure out why he was holding a pipe in his hands; possible he was having an affair with the divorcee upstairs, this was a possibility, that went through her mind for she looked unsatisfied with her husband’s answers). But Johnny knew if that was the case, the stranger would get it for assault, and Sharon would provide enough material for rape, to put him away in prison. It was a no win situation, and a hard learned lesson if anything. And the wife would have to go along with it, or see her husband thrown in jail (but what Johnny didn’t know at the time that in a year’s time, he’d meet him again in the Army, and he’d be divorced).
“No,” said Johnny, “I’m going to a bar,” the stranger got a bit scared wondering if there’d be trouble this evening, but Johnny left it at that. At the bar a few of his friends wanted to visit the house, burn it down if necessary, but Johnny said no, it would just provoke Sharon to call the cops on him, again, it was a no win situation.
Jill in Minnesota
Jill had never been to/in Minnesota during a winter–but she was determined to go find Johnny, he was living with a friend named Jeff at 135 Constitution Street. Tasma begged her to buy warm socks, mittens, overcoats, a scarf and hat, but she simply told her not to worry she was tough, and she could make it without any of that garb; she had $150, plus a ticket in her pocket for St. Paul, Minnesota on the Gray Hound bus; Tasma had heard it was an early and extremely cold winter, and extremely cold in Minnesota means cold like the Arctic parts of Alaska, if not worse.
–She arrived in St Paul, December 31, 1968, 7:30 PM. She knew it was cold but what was cold to her wasn’t registering what was cold to people in Minnesota, and did she really know what cold was [?] She heard Tasma talk about it, and the bus driver said it was nineteen below zero with a wind chill factor of 42-below; she was not sure what all that meant. All the same, Jill didn’t have boots on, rather tennis shoes, and a light wind breaker with a sweater under it, a pair of jeans, no hat but a light scarf and no mittens. She was going to surprise Johnny; he had sent letters saying he was living with a guy named Jeff that he was going to send for her as soon as he got a job. But she was impatient. The lining in her jacket was already getting stiff from the cold as she stepped onto the asphalt driveway of the Gray Hound depot.
It was going to be l969 in a few hours; she had talked about many things on her bus ride with a lady she met, Linda Macalley. She was from Minnesota, St. Paul, and liked Jill (the bus driver was concerned about her as he looked at how she was dressed). Linda enjoyed their conversations; they talked about the year, like most people do just before it starts. It was one where Bobby Kennedy was killed, and the Olympics in Mexico took place, and Nixon in November won the presidency, and just last month in December the first astronaut orbited the moon. What was in store for 1969, Jill thought, thought maybe Johnny and her, and her baby would be together; she had left her baby with her mother, in Seattle, it was born on November 2, 1968. Tasma had ventured out and seemed to have done well, why not her she figured. Johnny had become–for some odd reason, her obsession and she had told Johnny of the birth, but had put the child’s name under her name: Belmont, not wanting anyone to know until things were settled with them; as not to cause any hardship on Johnny. Thus, in essence, Johnny had no legal beneficiary at present. In-between her conversations she had a subtle gloom that filled her face. She tried not to show it but it was there nonetheless. The ride was 36-hours, as she crossed almost the whole country.
The voice of the bus driver, bellowed out again as Jill had already disembarked the bus, but what she heard was: “You got to get some cloths young lady, it’s thirty-below out there, I just heard it on the radio, and those little toes will freeze right off.” She turned round and waved at him as if to say, ‘sure,’ with no intention of adhering to his male egoism.
Inside the warm depot she pulled out her address book to insure she had the right address: ‘yup,’ she muttered as she took in a deep breath. She had pulled it out a dozen times during the trip, memorized it I think, but it was her life-line to Johnny, so she treated as such. Jeff, the guy he was living with, had no phone, so it was finding a city bus and simply jumping on it and heading out to their address, so she told herself. But it was not as easy as it was in Seattle; things were different, as she would soon find out.
“Say mister,” she bellowed out at a stranger with long hippie like hair, “Where is the Phylon Lake on the map here; I’m trying to get to this address (pointing to Prosperity Street)?”
He eyed her up and down, and then looked back onto the map. She noticed.
“Haw, here’s what you do little lady; take the bus over here on Wabasha Street, and go to Rice street, take any bus going North to Maryland Ave, get off and go East on Maryland, it will stop at around Arcade Street. From there I don’t know, but your address is about a mile and a half from there; I can take you there for a price, but it is not dollars” She nodded no, and he left abruptly after seeing her last nod.
She saw a television mounted on the wall; it showed the temperature at 28-below, wind-chill at 62. She thought she had conquered the Midwest, saying in her mind, ‘…this isn’t all that bad Jill–what a baby.’
–Jill, at this moment had made it to a gas station on Arcade Street (the Eastside of St. Paul), now she’d have to walk the mile and a half, but she went into the gas station on the corner, it was almost 9:00 PM, and it was closing. She pulled her paper with the address on it again out, making it visible to her onlooker, not quite feeling the cold, but feeling its little bites here and there–its numbness. But she was really going from one warm place to another, and although her face would start to get a bit numb, it thawed out quick as she jumped on the next bus. Her fingers kept going into her pockets as she sat down at the bus stops waiting for the buses, never having time to freeze completely; yet she was feeling the tingling that the cold produced in her flesh, bone and fingers as they got numb; by all means, she was feeling the reality of the cold now, yet she did not take full consciousness to its revalorization of how cold it was.
“Is this about a mile and a half from here?” she asked a young man in the gas station–looking at her piece of paper with the address on it, pointing it out as if it was a road map, as he started to turn off the lights. He looked at her strangely, and then looked outside for a car, he didn’t notice her walking, or if she had just gotten off the bus. But instead of answering her question, he said, “Ma’am, it is 35 below out there with a wind-chill of god knows what, possible 60 to 80, you don’t have a thing on.”
She gave him a grin (it was a statement-question to her knowledge, and one she didn’t feel she had time to answer) and repeated, “Where is this address?”
“Well, just go down this street, Maryland Avenue for about a mile, and it’s about three blocks to the North, once you get by the McDonalds restaurant on the south side of the street. At that point, the street will cross Maryland. A bus will be coming by in fifteen minutes, but I got to close in five,” kind of an offer if she wanted to wait. She looked at the mittens for sale by the cash register.
“I’d advise you to buy a pair; it’s really cold out there.”
“Na, no real need, it’s only a quick walk, no need to wait for a bus for fifteen minutes, I’ll be there by then.”
“The last bus leaves here at 12:00 midnight, just in case you need to know.” She looked at the bench outside, and across the street, a bench for waiting for the bus.
She could wait no longer, she now started to walk the mile and a half, slipping on the pavement, fell a few times; the small suitcase was starting to get into her way, as she shifted hands from her pocket to carry the case and back again several times. After a few blocks she no longer could carry the case in her hands, they got too cold too fast. She checked her pocket to see if she still had her $150-dollars, she was not going to lose it like Tasma did coming down to Seattle. It was there she told herself with a satisfactory smile.
She walked, at present, about a half mile, slipped again, as snow covered her hands; she quickly brushed it off on her light jacket. And now the mittens in the gas station appeared in her memory. But again she blocked it out saying: it’s only a few more blocks. She noticed the cold weather drew on her energy source, she was getting tired and her legs were starting to sting a little–clear through to the bones. Her hands were cold, very cold. She kept them in her jacket pockets now–hugging her sweater underneath for warmth, moving her fingers readily to keep the blood going, to feel the warm blood moving. She had hid her suitcase under snow a few blocks back, that came to her mind, wondering whom may have saw her doing it, covering it with snow. She’d pick it up on the way back; or have Johnny pick it up for her.
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