“Hey man, do you know Wesley?” he says as he stops in the front of the cash register, leaning over the counter.
“Who’s Wesley?” asks Shawn slowly, as he adjusts the tye-die doo-rag on his head.
“You know man. Wesley. The guy who runs the girls out here.”
“Runs the girls,” Shawn says slowly. “A pimp?”
“Yeah, pimp! Are you fucking new here or something?”
“No. I’ve owned this store, this whole building for 12 years,” Sean says calmly looking back and forth across the store. He’s scanning the customers to see if there are any children. He’s gotten much more sensitive about this now that he and Linds are expecting.
I look around too. Nothing but a handful of regulars in here today. Kyle, Logan, Will, and Saul.
“Man, then how can you not know Wesley, man? I mean come on! Are you fucking blind?” he says, his arms gestulating and circling manically.
Sean sighs loudly. I brace myself, because I know what’s coming.
“First of all. STOP YELLING! Second, who the hell are you to come into my place of business and start yelling at me about who I know and who I don’t know? Third, who are YOU?!!”
Saul, looks up from the Captain America comic he’s flipping through and bursts out laughing. Loudly.
“Man I work for the new church up the street and we want to clean this town up.”
“That’s nice, but that doesn’t give you any riht to come in here and act like an asshole. This is a family business and I’m a family man.”
“But man, if you been here for 12 years, you got to know Wesley.”
“Listen, PAL. I work in this store for 12 hours a day. From 6 in the morning until I close up shop at 6 at night. I lock up and I go home. I am not here in the middle of the night. I am not interested in what goes on here in the middle of the night. In fact, if you want to help clean this town up, how about you take my early morning job? Get a mop and clean up the puke and the condoms from the people who get sick from drinking too much at the bars next door, or decide to get it on in my foyer.”
“Hey man, I didn’t mean no disrespect.”
“I don’t care what you ‘meant.’ All I know is how you act. Now do me a favor and get your skinny ‘Christian’ ass out of my store before I call the police.”
“We are just trying to help the community,” he says as he walks down the aisle toward the door. The spring in his step is gone now. He’s changed from Ricochet Rabbit to his side-kick, Deputy Droop-a-Along.
“You could help the community by hiring a community relations person,’ Shawn mocks.
At that I start laughing.
“See the shit I have to put up with? Every couple of months, some new group comes in here and say they are going to clean up this down town. And every couple of months they break their promises.”
“Why do you think that is?”
“They don’t really care about downtown. They don’t really come down town. They don’t shop down town. They are only interested in ‘projects.’ One shot projects.”
“I’ve lived here for years. It’s as if,” Saul interjects as he sits on one of the worn bar stools, covering the scarred green 7-Up logo with his blubbery ass, “these people look at downtown like some sort of welfare queen that needs outside intervention to get her shit together.”
“Yeah, like the missionairies used to do,” Kyle says. “Look at these heathen in the Congo. We have to help them. All they do is make things worse.”
“Their hearts are mostly in the right place,” Sean says quietly, “but I don’t trust any of them. The last time they tried to clean this place up – they were going after the meth - a bunch of people ended up getting their suburban lily white asses beaten. Dealers don’t work alone. Neither do pimps, probably. I’m all for cleaning up down here, but it has to come from us the people who live and care about downtown.”