Letter From Milo: Night Work

July 17th, 2017

I wasn’t always a famous, wealthy and beloved figure in the blogging world.

I know it’s hard to believe, but before I was overwhelmed by fame, fortune and the paparazzi, I was just a regular guy. By regular guy I mean I was an average Joe, shuffling along in obscurity, content to make a living, raise a family, get drunk once in a while and get laid on occasion.

Then, the feces got into the central air. Like regular guys everywhere I got hit hard by the Great George Bush Economic Meltdown. The small business I had owned and mismanaged for many years, the Dumbass Advertising Corporation, Ltd, LLC & Sons, nearly went under. The cash stopped coming in. The lovely Mrs. Milo had to shoulder the main burden of keeping us afloat. I had to do something, anything, to crank up the cash flow.

So, I got a night job.

It wasn’t a great job. I had never done anything like it before. I won’t even mention what it was except to say it wasn’t anything I’d care to post on my resume.

The best thing about it was the hours, six hours a night, four days a week. It allowed me to keep my normal activities going during the day and it provided much needed cash. It was what I needed at the time.

The business wasn’t exactly a fly-by-night enterprise, but it was real close. The workforce was a mixed bag of characters. There were middle managers who had been downsized, college kids working their way through school, retirees who couldn’t make it on their pensions, whores who were too old to make a decent living, a number of young men with crude jailhouse tattoos, musicians who had wasted their youths trying to get record deals, a few people who were obviously junkies, and of course, an aging, burned out advertising man.

It seemed that anyone who wanted that job could have it. The only requirements were the ability to read and write and minimal computer skills. None of the employees stayed long. Turnover was ferocious. After a month there were only two of us left out of a group of 12 that started with me.

The other guy was a man named Teddy, who, as a young man, had made a living as a bank robber in Mississippi.

Of course, he didn’t blurt out this information at our first meeting. We had to become friends first. And that wasn’t easy. I wasn’t looking for friends and I doubt if Teddy was, either. All we were looking for was a paycheck, preferably one that didn’t bounce.

But as new faces kept showing up week after week, and the people we knew drifted away, Teddy and I began spending more time with each other. We’d eat lunch and take smoke breaks together, and after work we’d walk to the El train together. Teddy generally carried a half pint in his jacket and had a drink or two on the walk to the train. He was a gentleman and always offered me a drink. And I always accepted.

It was while walking to the El one evening that Teddy said, “Man, you don’t know how good it feels to be walking down this street.”

“It’s a beautiful night.”

“It’s more than that, Milo. You see, I spent 22 years in prison, in Mississippi. Got out eight months ago. Just getting on this El train and going anywhere I want is sweet.”

“Damn, man. 22 years?”

“Yeah, robbed four banks. I should have stopped at three.”

When I got home that evening, I opened a bottle of wine, poured a hefty drink and thought about Teddy. I would have thought someone who had served so much prison time would be bitter and angry. But Teddy was just the opposite. He was one of the sweetest natured men I’d ever met, always smiling, always genial. I never heard him say a bad word about anyone. He even had a playful side, which he allowed me to see.

He had begun greeting me at work by giving me an ugly look and saying, “Motherfucker, where’s my money?”

And I’d reply by saying, “Spent it, motherfucker.”

Teddy always laughed at my reply and said, “Shit, man, I would have done the same thing.”

One evening as we walked to the El train, I asked Teddy, “It must have been tough being a black man in a Mississippi prison?”

“It wasn’t easy. The funny thing is that my own people made it tough on me. You see, most of the trustees and guards at the prison are black men. But they have to answer to white men. So they can’t look like they’re taking it easier on their own people than on whites. Motherfuckers can make your life miserable, sometimes.”

“How’d you get this job, anyway? The application form asked about felony convictions.”

“”They just asked if you had been convicted of a felony in the last seven years. Shit, man, I been in prison a lot longer than seven years.”

Another time, Teddy said, “Stolen money don’t last long. This short money we making here last longer than bank money. My biggest hit was $30,000 and it was gone in a month. Course I had to split it with a partner. If you a criminal you got a lot of expenses. Plus, you get crazy with the money. When you work for your money, you watch it closer.”

About a month later, Teddy came in late to work, which was unusual. He never missed work and he was always punctual. He was also disheveled and smelled of alcohol, another unusual occurrence. He never drank at work.

“Are you okay, man?” I asked.

“My woman put me out. I had to move all my shit into my brother’s place.”

“Damn, man, that’s rough.”

“Bitch went crazy. Accused me of all kind of shit. I swear, Milo, I ain’t even looked at another woman since I been out of jail.”

About an hour later, Teddy abruptly stood up at his cubicle, raised his face toward the ceiling and hollered something I couldn’t quite make out. Then he rushed toward the exit door.

That was the last time I saw him.

Word on the street was that Teddy had broken parole, either a domestic dispute, something to do with a car or a concealed weapons charge. I was pretty sure he didn’t go back to robbing banks because I didn’t read anything in the papers about any local banks being robbed. He might be in prison in Illinois or maybe they sent him back to Mississippi. Who the hell knows?

One thing I do know is that I miss him. He was good company and always cheered me up when I saw him.

Sometime in my life I’d like to see Teddy again. If I do, I’ll throw my arms around him, give him a big hug and say, “Motherfucker, where’s my money?”

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