St. Nick's Outlaws
By Jim Colombo
Click here to send comments
Click here if you'd like to exchange critiques
Copyright 2001 Jim Colombo
Benny the Scab was a two-time loser who ran numbers for Joey Beans. Joey got
iced and Benny needed a job, so he started working for the Gratso Brothers on the wharf.
Benny ran numbers and later when he earned their trust he became a bagman. The
Gratso Brothers, Nick and Philly, got greedy and tried to take some of the prostitution
action that Chen Wang had lost when he was shut down by the Board of Health. Shin Wu
was starting to make his mark in Chinatown and he had to defend his turf. No greasy
wops were going to muscle him out. Shin Wu let the Gratso Brothers set up the
whorehouses and when they finished Shin would visit the Gratso Brothers one night. Shin
told Benny the Scab to help him set up the Gratso Brothers or become shark bait. Benny
liked breathing air, so he told Shin the address and best time for Shin to personally send
the Gratsos to hell. Nick and Philly liked banging young black pussy on Saturday nights.
Shin and two others arrived about midnight. The brothers were in separate rooms
on the second floor. The two bodyguards on the first floor were silently eliminated. Shin
walked upstairs with great anticipation. The gunmen followed. Shin opened the door
slowly. It was Philly. “Oh, baby, suck that cock.”
The whore looked surprised to see Shin. One gunman fired two shots muffled by a
silencer and hit her in the head. She slumped on Philly’s crotch with his cock in her
mouth. Shin smiled and shot Philly three times in the head before he could say Jack Shit.
Shin used thirty-eight caliber hollow point bullets with a silencer. Philly’s blood splattered
on the wall and streaked the white sheets.
Shin reloaded his gun and went to the next room.. Nick was banging some young
black snatch from the rear. “Hey, shit head.”
Nick turned and three shots were fired. His head exploded from the dumb-dumb
bullets. A piece of his brain hit the wall and slowly slid down. Blood splattered on the
whore, the walls, and white sheets. She began to scream and was silenced by two shots.
Nick was laying on the dead whore with the top half of his head missing. Shin left the
Gratso Brother’s in North Beach and drove to Chinatown. He was hungry and wanted to
celebrate, so they went to the Jade Palace restaurant on Grant Street. The chef had
prepared Shins favorite dish: sautéed chicken feet. They drank cognac and smoked
cigars. Chinese ladies in silk dresses entertained. Later that evening Shin was quoted as
saying that he enjoyed killing the Gratso so much that he wished that he could bring them
back to life so he could kill them again.
Benny got promoted and became a fantan dealer for Shin. Benny liked to bet the
ponies. Sometimes he won, but most of the time he lost. Benny needed a grand to pay a
bookie named Louie “the squeeze” Stignero. Louie had a hand shake like a vice grip.
Louie the squeeze gave a piece of his action to Foxie for protection. He sold Benny the
Scab to Foxie for a grand and Foxie gave Louie free protection for a year, which was
worth nailing Shin Wu. Benny the Scab was just another termite. Foxie wouldn’t lose any
sleep if Benny got dusted.
Louie called Benny a couple of days later and invited him to drop so they could talk
about his tab. Benny showed up at Louie’s apartment and was surprised to see Foxie.
“Come in Benny. Have a seat. Louie’s got good news for you.”
“Foxie paid your tab, Benny.”
“That’s right, Benny. Your ass is mine.”
“I’ll pay, Foxie.”
“You God damn right, and I’m going to tell you how. You’re going set up Shin Wu
for me. You do right, and I tear up the tab.”
“I know where to find you, Benny.”
Benny left Louie’s apartment and looked around nervously to see if any of Shin’s
goons had followed him. If Benny helped Foxie, Shin would ice him and if he helped Shin,
Foxie would send back to the joint to die of old age. Shin would find out that Foxie had
bought is tab, so it would be better to confront Shin and set up Foxie. The tab would be
eliminated when Foxie died. Benny had to buy time to arrange his escape. He knew the
routes and times of the bagmen. Two of them got laid at the same whorehouse. He could
handle them and snatch about ten grand. Benny had a friend who was a fisherman, and
would take him to Mexico. Then he would kill the guy and sell his boat. He had to be a
two-faced whore satisfying two masters.
Oakland in May has comfortable weather compared to San Francisco because
Oakland doesn’t have the fog and is five to seven degrees warmer. Some of the
neighborhood kids were playing stair baseball. The batter stands about two feet away
from the steps, throws the tennis ball at the point of the step, and creates a hit. Two boys
play defense in the street. If the ball bounces in front of the first boy, it’s a single. If the
ball bounces between the two boys, it’s a double, and f the ball goes over to the sidewalk
across the street, it’s a homerun. If the kid throws the tennis ball at the point of the third
step with the correct angle, it has the best chance of going for a homerun.
Pastor Franklin watched the boys play for a while, the he went to visit Miss Sarah
to get his sweet potato pie. He walked up the front steps ad was greeted by the fragrance
and moseyed on back. There it sat on the windowsill, fresh out of the oven, steaming,
and filling the air with the smell of sweet potatoes, brown sugar, and honey. It was almost
sinful, thought Pastor Franklin. His wife had died ten years ago in a car accident. The
other driver was drunk and walked away. Pastor Franklin was from Ohio and had
graduated from Bowling Green. Then he went to Prairie View to get his degree as a pastor.
He and his wife had one son who died in the Korean war. Pastor Franklin was a tall man
with broad shoulders in his early sixties, and always had a friendly smile for all. He walked
up the steps and knocked on the door.
“Good afternoon to you, Miss Sarah. How are you this fine Saturday afternoon?”
“My lands, Pastor Franklin. How good to see you.”
“You know why I’m here, Miss Sarah.”
“Sure enough. Come in and sit a spell. I’ll go get the pie.”
Sarah showed the pie to Pastor Franklin and his broad smile got wider and his
eyebrows rose, acknowledging the pleasure that he soon would be savoring.
“Tomorrow you and Miss Ida come by and I’ll introduce you to the Johnsons after
church service,” said Pastor Franklin.
“That’ll be just fine. We’ll see you tomorrow, Pastor Franklin.”
He walked down the stairs carefully carrying the brown paper bag horizontally not to
disturb the contents. The smell caught the attention of the boys playing stair baseball.
Pastor Franklin quickly walked by and smiled, “See you in church.”
The boys continued their game.
“Easy Buster. It’s Frank. You remember, Frank.” Buster sat by Bill and starred
at the man walking towards his master.
“Hello, Bill. Thanks for letting me visit on short notice,” said Brother Justin.
“It’s good to see you, Frank.”
Brother Justin needed to get away for awhile and see his friends in Boulder Creek.
Brother Anthony wrote him a letter explaining that he had become a liability, because of
the Russell issue, the petition submitted by the Alumni Association, and faculty complaints
about the budget cutbacks. The Regents had withdrawn his name from the list of
candidates. Rusty and called twice, and left massages that he was upset that Brother
Justin had stood him up at Blum’s for dinner and hadn’t returned his calls. Everything was
caving in on him. Today he could be Frank, and enjoy the peace of Boulder Creek.
Paul had gracefully walked out from the front door and leaned against the beam by
the stairway that supported the roof. “Well, look who’s here. Hey Fred, it’s Frank. Hi there.
How are you doing?”
“Hello, Paul. Good to see you.”
Fred got up from the lazy boy chair and peered through the screen door, and
“You’ll stay for dinner?” asked Paul.
“Sure, he will,” said Bill
Frank went inside and washed up. Then he sat on the kitchen steps facing the
garden and Black Mountain, and tried to relax. He enjoyed the quiet peacefulness that
soothed his weary body. Birds sang in the distance. Two squirrels looked for food and
scurried about the grounds with out fear. The warm sun cleansed Frank’s soul, giving him
new life. It was easy being Frank. The responsibilities of St. Nick’s and being a brother
weighed heavily on Brother Justin. He closed his eyes and felt his spirit soar. Frank was
discovering and enjoying the pleasures of the world that lay beyond the rectory door of St.
An hour passed and Paul announced that dinner was ready. He had broiled slices
of marinated eggplant and topped them with spinach cooked in olive oil and garlic. He
served a bowl of sliced cherry tomatoes and chopped purple onions marinated with oil and
vinegar, baked potatoes topped with goat cheese, and cooked carrots with a honey glaze.
A rose’ wine from a local winery complemented the meal. Wines grown in the Santa Cruz
Mountains are sweeter than the dry, tart wines of the Napa Valley.
“So, what has happened since your last visit?” asked Bill.
“ I have been very busy with running the school and trying to cope with this new
generation. They are letting their hair grow long, they wear tight pants….”
Paul interrupted, ”Ooou, I like that!” He smiled at Fred and Fred blushed.
Frank continued, “They’re like stovepipes and the grease they put on their hair,
it’s disgusting. “
“It’s the next generation, Frank. You have to go with the flow,” said Bill.
After dinner Frank and Bill went for a walk with Buster. Frank told Bill about his
dreams, his fantasies about Rusty, and not going to Blum’s with Rusty. Frank told Bill
that he was no longer celibate.
“You’re a man with feelings like anyone else, Frank.”
“That’s the problem, I’m not anyone else, I’m a Christian Brother, Bill.”
They walked to the creek and back. The wind began to whisper through the leaves
and thin red clouds hung on the horizon as the sun was starting to slide behind the
horizon. They returned and Paul was served coffee and brownies. Frank took a cup of
black coffee. Paul offered a brownie, “Here, try one. I made them today.”
“No thanks,” said Frank.
“Frank, take one,” said Bill.
He looked at Bill who nodded, and took one, and took a bit. It had a strong taste,
almost like oregano, so he put the brownie down. They talked about the good old days
when they were in high school.
“Don’t you like the brownies I made?” asked Paul.
Frank finished the strange tasting brownie to be polite. Ten minutes passed and,
“Wow, what is that? I feel different,” said a startled Frank.
Paul began to giggle. “Those are mountain brownies. They got marijuana.”
“I’ve never felt like this before. How long will it last?”
“You’ll mellow out in an hour,” said Paul.
Frank liked the euphoria, but Brother Justin felt out of control. He had a second cup
of coffee and started to settle down. An hour passed and Frank thanked all for dinner and
the visit and drove home. The taste of the marijuana lingered, as did the recollection of
euphoria. One and a half-hours later, he drove into the garage at St. Nick’s. Brother
Justin entered the rectory. He no longer fought the battle. Frank had won.
More next week...