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St. Nick's Outlaws

By Jim Colombo


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Copyright 2001 Jim Colombo


 Chapter 48



            It was Monday, the day before Christmas, and Foxie picked up C.J. at his home in


the Geneva district of the city.  C.J. didn’t like driving in the city, and preferred to ride as


shotgun.  Foxie drove with the belief that the other guy would most likely stop to avoid


hitting a squad car.  Foxie’s Law stated that anyone who had a car accident with a cop


was in the wrong, even if the squad car hit the other guy.  C.J. did not appreciate the


reckless way Foxie drove, and referred to Foxie as Barney Ohlfield, the Indy 500 winner.


“Slow down, Barney.  This is Chinatown.  They don’t give a damn if you’re a cop


or God.  Jesus Christ,  you almost hit that old man.”


“What’a ya mean.  I missed him by two inches.  I bet he shit his pants.”


The old Chinese man cursed Foxie in Cantonese.


“Screw you, Charlie.  God damn chinks don’t respect nothin’.”


They turned left from California to Leavenworth, and left on Eddy Street.  It was


the red light district, with all the girly shows and sleazy bars.  The Rainbow Room was a


watering hole for pimps, pushers, and assorted losers who lived there from six in the


morning to closing time at two AM.  The Hotel Leonard was a flophouse across the street


that rented rooms by the hour.  By ten o’clock at night you were banging a used slut in


damp sheets.  Chucker’s was a bar down the block owned by a Filipino named Charles


Formaleo, who preferred Chucker.  He was the “Queen of the Loin.”   Chucker combed his


hair like Little Richard and tied the ends of his shirt in a knot to show off his tummy.  He


wore pants that were so tight that he rubbed his legs with baby oil so that he could slide


into them.  The Greyhound Bus Depot was on Market near Turk where young boys sold


their bodies in the men’s room.  There were no hand towels or rest in the restroom.  The


Tenderloin was a swarming anthill of illegal activity ruled by Foxie and C.J.  It was seven in


the morning, and the bums were scavenging the garbage left by the bars and diners, trying


to collect breakfast.  Foxie always made a tour of the Tenderloin before stopping at


Blackie’s for breakfast.  Suddenly he stopped the car.


            “What is it, Foxie?” asked C.J.


            “Hang loose.  Some punk is wearing my sunglasses.”


            Foxie got out and followed the boy.  He caught up to him at the corner when the


light turned red.  The boy saw Foxie and figured Foxie was going to lean on him, so he 


ran across the street against the red light.  C.J. drove up in the squad car to block him and 


Foxie grabbed the boy and said,” Where’d ya get the shades?”


            “I found ‘em.”


            “Bullshit.”  Foxie took the sunglasses from the boy and showed him the initials FG


on the left inside frame.  “You got two choices punk, fess up or do time.  Stealing from a


cop is at least two years.  A sweet young thing like you in jail, your black ass will be red in


a month.  What’s it gonna be?”


            “I saw ya chasin’ the dude.  I saw the glasses, so I took ‘em.  I know where the dude


lives.  If I tell ya, will you let me go?”


            “You better not be shittin’ me, boy.”


            “No shit.  He lives on Eddy at the Lenox Hotel, second floor.”


            “How do you know?”


            “I buy dust for my mama.  Room 208.”


            “How old are you?”




             “You go to school?”


            “I don’t have time for school.  I gota help my mama.”


            “How many are there in your family?”


            “My two younger sisters, mama and me.  My daddy died last year.”


            “You can walk, kid.  Hey kid, here is five bucks.  Buy some food for your sisters


and mom.  Don’t be spendin’ it on drugs or booze.  If I find out this dude ain’t at the


Hotel Lenox, I’m coming for ya.  You dig, kid?”     


            “I dig.”


            The boy walked away and occasionally glanced back to see if Foxie was still




            “Hey, kid!”  


            The boy stopped and turned.   Foxie threw the shades at him.  The boy caught


the sunglasses, and looked bewildered.  “Gee, thanks.”   He smiled and ran away.


“He ain’t going to buy food, Foxie,” said C.J.


“Maybe he will.”







It was Christmas Eve, and Lupe had to work until six o’clock.  People were still


running around doing last minute shopping.  The Salvation Army no longer played with the


energy they had two weeks ago.  Christmas was quickly coming and soon a New Year


would begin—1964.  Jim waited outside of City of Paris for Lupe, and a few minutes after


six Lupe greeted Jim with her bone crunching I missed you hug-- crunch. 


            “Let me carry that for you, Angel.”


“Thanks, Cookie.”


“I bought sweaters for your mom and dad for Christmas.  I hope they like them.”


“I’m sure they will.  Are you hungry?”


“Yes.  I could go for a big bowl of calm chowder and hot French bread with butter. 


Can we go to the wharf?”


“Sure, Angel.”


They walked to the Stockton St. tunnel and took the bus to Fisherman’s Wharf. 


Ristoni worked at Allioto’s Fish Market and Grotto.  Jim and Lupe walked in, and Jim


waved at Ristoni.


“Hey, Indian, what’a ya have?”


“Hey, Bruiser, we’ll have two bowls of clam chowder with French bread.  This is


my lady, Lupe.”


“Nice to meet you Bruiser.”


Ristoni laughed.  “Nice to meet you Lupe.”


“Angel, his name is Steve Ristoni.  He’s a linebacker.  We call him Bruiser.


“Why did he call you Indian?”


“My face gets red and I get a little emotional out there.”


“How emotional?”


“ Stuff happens out there.”


“Like what?”


Ristoni brought two large bowls of clam chowder with hot sourdough French


bread and butter.


“Thanks, Steve.”


“Why didn’t you call him Bruiser?”


“Because our football days are over, Angel.  That’s the past now.”


Ristoni charged them for small bowls.   Lupe and Jim enjoyed the view of the


wharf and watched the fishing boats.  The chowder was good, and Jim was with his


special lady.  When they finished they walked to Ghirardelli Square and watched


chocolate being made.  


They took the bus home and arrived at Jim’s parents' home at ten o’clock.  Rosa


had arrived a few minutes before them.  Mary offered hot Tom and Jerry’s with almond


paste cookies.


“These cookies are so good, Mary,” said Rosa.


“Thank you.”


“I must have the recipe.”


Lupe’s face started to get red from the brandy in her drink.  “Wow, it’s not like


drinking hot cocoa,” she said.


They talked about how fast the year had passed.  It was eleven o’clock, and time


for all to leave for midnight mass at St. James, a High Mass that began at eleven thirty and


lasted until one in the morning.  They were one family now.





Foxie and C.J. parked the squad car in the alley.  C.J. would cover the alley while


Foxie crashed the front.  Both men were out of uniform.  It was a roust.  Foxie walked


up the stairs of the Hotel Lenox to the second floor.  A drunk had fallen asleep in his


vomit in the doorway.  Foxie unscrewed the light bulb in the hallway and approached


Room 208 with his flashlight on.  He leaned against the door and heard moaning, like they


were having sex.  Foxie kicked the door open, pointed the flashlight at the surprised couple


with his left hand, and with his right pointed his .38 Special at them.


            “What the fuck!” said the drug dealer as he rolled over to see who had busted in.


            “Merry fuckin’ Christmas, asshole.  You remember me,” said Foxie. 


            “Who the fuck are you?”


            “I’m the guy that’s gonna get a piece of your ass every time you deal.  This is my


turf, and if you deal, you pay to play.”


            “So you’re the man.”


            “Ya, I’m the man.  Nice tits, sweetheart.”


            “Fuck you,” said the white whore.


             “Some day you will.  Hey C.J. ”


C.J. came in and handcuffed the dude.  “Hey, man, what the fucks going on?”


            “Get your clothes on, whore, and fuck off,” said C.J.


“Go to hell,” she replied sarcastically.


“Is that all you can say, doll?  Can you say Merry Christmas?” asked Foxie.


“Fuck you, asshole,” replied the whore.


C.J., I think she has a problem.”


“Yeah.”  C.J. took the whore’s clothes and threw them out the window.  “Fuck


you, bitch,” said C.J. and threw her out of the room and slammed the door.


            The whore pounded on the door and yelled,  “You ugly mother fucker.”


            It was a mistake calling C.J. ugly.  He opened the door, grabbed the whore, and


slapped her.  She fell to the floor.  C.J. gabbed her by the hair and slapped her again. 


She hit the floor and lay there with her mouth bleeding.


                        “Look asshole, it’s Christmas, and you can keep your fuckin’ drugs.  I want


your cash.  All of it.  Every Monday I’m gonna look for you, and you better come across,”


said Foxie.


            “How much?”


            “I figure a $150 a week is fair.”


            “Say what? That’s almost half.”


            “Well, you’re gonna have to hustle that much more, dude.”          


            “That’s bullshit.”


            “You wanta see bullshit?  You wanta see a cell tonight?  Are you a dumb son of a


bitch?  If you want those cuffs off, tell me where your stash is.”


            “Okay.    It’s in a can of Crisco in the refrigerator.”


            C.J. got the can of lard, opened it, and stuck his hand in.   Halfway down there


was a plastic bag with cash.   C.J. wiped his hand with a towel on the kitchen table.


            “I’m starting to think you’re smarter than you look.  You got about two grand here,


dude.  It’s Christmas so I’ll just take half.  Next Monday meet me at the Rainbow Room


at nine A.M., and be there with the cash.  Now, from time to time I might need your help,


and if you do right, I‘ll do right with you.  You dig?”


            “I’m hip.”


            C.J. removed the handcuffs. “On behalf of the South of Market Street Boys Club


we thank you for the generous donation.  Did you think I would forget it’s Christmas?”


asked Foxie.


            Foxie and C.J. left the flat, and drove off into the night.  The whore walked back


into the room.  The naked couple stared at each other.  “You owe me twenty bucks,”


said the whore.


            ‘For what?  Get the fuck out.”  The black man threw the naked whore out, and


slammed the door.  It was minutes before midnight, Christmas Eve, and she stood in the


hall naked, bleeding, and cold.  She began to cry and walked downstairs to get her


clothes in the alley.  They were damp from the fog and dirty from the street.  She


reached into her dress pocket and pulled out a tiny plastic bag of cocaine that she had


stole.  At least she had something for her effort.           






            Father Felix was flanked by two altar boys as they began the procession down


the aisle from the vestibule.  They wore green gowns with gold trim.  Father Felix was


carrying a brass crucible with a chain containing burning incense.  He swung the


crucible allowing the smoke to sanctify the church for the coming of the Holy Ghost. 


The organist began to play Mendelssohn’s the Messiah and the choir in the balcony began


to sing.  The congregation stood and waited for Father Felix to approach the altar.  Then


he gave the crucible to the altar boy on his left side who put it on the rack at the side of the


altar.  Father Felix genuflected in front of the tabernacle and bowed his head.  He rose


and greeted the congregation in Latin, “The Lord be with you.”  The congregation


responded, “And with you.” Father continued and said the Act of Contrition in Latin, “Let


us recall our sins.  Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offending thee.....”  Lupe


held Jim’s hand.  Jim’s parents stood at his side and Rosa stood by Lupe.  They knelt,


and asked God for forgiveness. 


            A High Mass has more readings from the Old Testament celebrating the birth of


Christ.  Soon the Offertory passed to the Consecration, and then to the Communion.  They


joined others who walked to the altar, and received the body of Christ and sanctifying


grace.  Father Felix held the host with both hands and raised it upward. He then said in


Latin, “Oh Lord, I am not worthy, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”  Jim


was an altar boy for five years, and by instinct he began to reply in Latin as he walked with


Lupe to the front of the altar.  The altar boy looked stoic and stood at the right side of


Father Felix with a gold tray that he put under the chin of each person receiving


Communion.  The Priest said in Latin, ”The body of Christ.” 


The Mass ended with the organist playing “Silent Night,” and the choir and the


congregation joined in singing.  They left the church filled with the grace of God and the


Christmas spirit.  It was one thirty in the morning, and they went to Rosa’s apartment to 


enjoy hot coffee and Mexican cookies. They exchanged gifts that would be opened the


next day prior to dinner.  Jim and his parents finished their coffee.  Jim said good night to


his Angel.  They hugged, and Lupe gave Jim one of her patented passionate kisses.  Jim’s


warm breath met the cold night air and created steam.  They said good night to Lupe and


Rosa, and left.





            It was one thirty in the morning and everyone was asleep.  Foxie looked into the


refrigerator and  saw two slices of pepperoni pizza.  He grabbed the dish a can of Coors, 


and sat at the table and said, “Cold pizza and a beer.  Merry Christmas, Foxie.” and he


toasted himself.  Foxie felt good about giving the Boys Club the money he had taken from


the drug dealer.  Now the Boys Club could fix the roof.





            It was Christmas morning, and the coroner had tagged and bagged a Jane Doe.  


The whore who Foxie and C.J. had rousted last night had shot up the cocaine, and had


bought a one way ride to the other side.  The newspaper boy was delivering the Sunday


paper, and the low life of the Tenderloin began to crawl out of their holes, trying to face


another day in the forgotten part of the city. 




Merry Christmas.



More next week...