Lost Letter

 

bottle

“Dammit!” he hissed, hopping on one foot, looking for what he banged his toe on.

An old bottle lay there. Inside was a scrap of paper.

He thought back to summer of his fifth grade year. Pirates were his fascination then. He’d read about marooned sailors sending messages off in bottles in hopes of rescue.

All summer he’d write notes, stuff them in empty soda bottles, screw the caps tight, and set them adrift. Not out of need for rescue. Just in hopes they might reach some distant shore. That someone might send back a reply in some exotic bottle from parts unknown. He would chase every bit of detritus that glinted as it bobbed in the surf just in case.

It never was.

Later he grew up and learned about ocean currents, weather patterns and how unlikely that his messages ended up further than a few miles down the shoreline. He also learned about global marketing. That anyone in parts unknown probably had the same boring coke bottles that he did.

He grabbed the bottle by the neck, and hurled it back into the Atlantic, once again off to parts unknown.

He hoped the weather was nice there.

 

This story was written in response to a photo prompt at Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner

Parting

He let the blade glide across the honing wand without looking. It was mostly for ceremony any way, so everyone in the room would know he was about to get to work, it was a way to put off the task. He knew that the knife would already either be sharp enough or it wouldn’t. It was a large knife, compared to his other tools. He hadn’t done this often but, enough to know that size would matter here.

He pressed the metal in on the bottom of the neck and slid it back slowly. The flesh split open easily as the blade sank in and came to rest on the bone. He always felt it would be faster to push on here, but it wasn’t the way. He withdrew his knife and set it on the steel table. Using both hands he rolled it over and ran his hand down the side of the glistening skin. Picking his knife back up he lined it up so the two cuts would me and began again. This time when he reached that same bone he put his other hand on the back of the blade for leverage and pushed hard once. There was a brief grinding noise as the knife wedged between the vertebrae, separating them. There was a crunch as it drove home severing the spine and passing through the other side.

He had once seen someone else, more skilled than he perform the rest without removing the head first. That wasn’t the way for him. The rest would be easier with it gone. Easier for him anyway. He moved his free hand along the inside of the body cavity. The viscera and organs had been removed by someone else, someone far removed from him. He had done the task handful of times as a child, under his father’s instructions. He supposed he could still manage it if he had too, but was grateful that the distasteful task didn’t fall on his shoulders these days. He pulled open the flap of skin and placed the point of his blade inside. He still remembered the wisdom imparted to him when he was first learning the task, “Find the backbone and stay there.”

He found the backbone.

As his knife slid along the top of the spine, farther into the flesh, he grabbed the lower half of the body in readiness. The tip of the knife began to protrude from the other side and he shifted his grip on the implement so that he could put his weight behind the next action. He inhaled and pushed forward, sawing the blade back and forth. Crick, tack, clack, click, the lesser bones were sheared off as the blade traveled along the spine. He lurched forward, and wrenched his wrist. as the knife came free at the top where the head should have been. He changed positions and cut down the lower half of the backbone. The side was off and he slid it down and out of the way, and rolled what was left of the carcass over.

Crick, tack, clack, click, the process repeated itself. Soon he held the gore covered spine in his hand, a momentary trophy for his efforts. He lay the knife down and shook the cramp out of his wrist, as he absentmindedly dropped the prize into the waiting bin. He wriggled his fingers unconsciously and then reached for the needle nose pliers. They were new, only having been used for about a week, and were still stiff and awkward to use. He rub his hand lightly along the newly exposed interior flesh, searching for tiny, sharp little bumps, as he found them he dug in with the pliers to grasp the remnants of bone, and extract them, one by one. It was tedious and he had to do this for each of the two halves of what now remained of the subject. He always meant to count them as he pulled each bone free, but somehow it never seemed to matter enough while he was at his duty.

He ran his blade along the sides of each of halves, trimming off  undesirable product. Then, starting at the base, angling the knife down slightly, he cut the thick outer skin away from the softer pink flesh of interior. The skin came free easily in one piece, with barely any meat left dangling from it. He held it up and admired it’s scaled surface for a moment before dropping it into the waste to join the head and spine.

Laying the side flat he straightened the now cleaned flesh and began to carefully slice it into fillets, taking time to weigh each to check his precision. Once done he wrapped the portions in plastic for the service tonight. Twelve in all, not bad, and four still from the night before. He cleared the steel table off and washed it down. As he was drying it off he wondered how many that came tonight would acknowledge or, even know that their meal was once part of a whole thing.

He doubted most of them would care.

Piano Lesson

5007302545_91a2e38c2d_zDressed in her new bedazzled flip-flops, jean shorts and, what is becoming her signature, black t-shirt that proclaims she is BREAKING ALL THE RULES, my daughter bursts into the studio. There sitting quietly in front of one of the keyboards, almost leaning on her father, is another little girl.

Sh head looking down, hands folded in her lap. She is wearing a simple pair of sandals, a dark ruffled skirt, and plain blue top. My daughter smiles at her and bounces over to another Casio and hops up into her own seat, still vibrating with excitement.

When it was time for introductions my daughter quickly blurted out “Kate!” almost before the instructor finished the question.

The other little girl looked to her dad before whispering, “emma.”

My wife and I took seats at the edge of the room.

While she was distracted for a moment,  Emma’s father inched his chair a little bit further away from her.

This being the first class the instructor asks about what kind of music they like. Kate’s hand shoots up and she begins to rattle off the name of every kind she’s ever heard of. From rock, to jazz, to marching band, and even ignoring that ballet is actually a dance. When asked about her favorite musicians and songs, she cheerfully mentions Katie Perry.

When it’s Emma’s turn she just looks fearfully towards her father fo guidance. When gently prompted she looks down and just shakes her head “no” in response to almost any question. I think the only reason she eventually gives a positive answer because she’s afraid the questions won’t stop otherwise.

As the session goes on Emma looks more and more worried as her dad moves in small increments farther away. I look at my own little girl, smiling and giggling, enjoying  each time she’s called on to give an opinion, even if she is making up her answers as she goes. I think how despite her tendency towards outburst, her penchant for interrupting people when they’re having a conversation, I am so lucky that she isn’t socially anxious or stricken with paralytic  shyness.

Finally after the instructor has written down all the answers he needed from both girls he tells them to switch the synthesizers on. He gives them a few minutes of free play on the keys. This is the first time we see Emma relax and smile. Both girls giggle their way through the rest of the lesson, letting them come to an even field as the enjoy just listening to the music they make.

I think they will make a great pair.

Image: Musical Keyboard by, Natesh Ramasamy (CC BY-2.0)

Day Pass

He had gotten a day pass from work release to visit his dying grandpa. I, being the family chauffeur by default, am tasked with picking him up.

I spot him, in the rear view mirror, and shake my head slightly as I watch him swagger towards the car. He tugs at his clothes and tries to smooth the wrinkles from his faded, preppy attire. He looks around, like someone is more likely to judge him about his brand of clothing being slightly out of fashion than the fact that he was walking out of the county lock-up. He gets in the car and barely says hello before his little claws seize hold of my phone, a moment of reflection makes him decide it wold be wiser to ask me, before dialing his girlfriend.

After the call, without asking he adds her to my contacts list. He turns the phone over in his hands, his narrow, avaricious eyes sizing it up for its approximate value. He proceeds to tell me how cool the new iPhone is, that he wants one when he gets out, but my phone is pretty good too. I tell him I bought a phone not a status symbol.

He breathes in deep, as if trying to suck, from the air, all the freedom that this tragedy provided him in one gulp. He talks about getting out of jail, and all the things he’d going to do, all the things he’s going to buy. He doesn’t ask about his grandmother except to remark about how cool it is that she’s just giving me her car. He can’t believe that it’s not like that, it’s still her car I’m just driving her around when she needs it.

He talks to me about how it’s all past him. About how he’s just ready to be with his kid, to be there for him. How he wasn’t going to go back to jail. How he was glad for the second chance he was getting. How he was going to stay sober, and how hard it was to have an addiction. I tell him about how I haven’t had a drink in almost a year.

I try to talk with him about being sober, the one subject we might have in common.  Mostly the conversation revolves around focusing on yourself, and not paying attention to what other people do, or what they have that you don’t. About making consistent choices. I glance over and he is staring out the window, not really paying attention, talking without listening.

We pulled up outside the palliative  care building at the V.A. hospital. He get’s out of the car and spots my wife, it’s only a matter of seconds before he is asking her for a cigarette, and trying to weasel a free lunch out of her. He had already forgot why he was here. That’s when I knew.

He wasn’t going to make it, he wasn’t going to change.

Late Delivery

I turned the letter over in my gloved hands before reading it one last time. It was a damned shame. If he had just waited one more day. He would have checked the mail one last time, everything would have been fine.  One more day and he would have gotten the news. He would know that she was coming back. He would know that she  forgave him, and I wouldn’t have to cut him down from the rafters. I placed the letter in the plastic bag and zipped it shut.

These are the days I really hate being a cop.4461758553_a9ca106e58

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image: stolica by, Milos Milosevic (CC BY 2.0)

Three Little Songs

 

I know music has had a profound effect on our lives whether we like it or not, but I don’t often find myself thinking all that deeply about it. If I had to pick three songs that were important to me it would be a hard decision but it would be safe to say that I could easily get mired down choosing just one from the catalog of one man and he always, always is at the top of the list.

2580990298_c3b17677d8_n Leonard Cohen has long held a special place in  my life. Several friends throughout life have associated his song Waiting for the Miracle, with my presence, often saying that the tune seems to follow me. All things considered I’ll it as a compliment, but it probably has more a bit to do with periods I’ve spent obsessing over his music than any ethereal quality on my part. This song, and Cohen’s music in general, first entered my life during a long series of emotional down turns. Its melancholy lyrics always picked me up, I mean if someone could feel like this how bad could my life be. Now the song really marks my past disconnects with the people around me who were trying so hard to just be there for me, and I just kept looking for that one perfect thing, a job, a relationship, whatever that would make it all fall into place for me; then realizing that I was waiting for myself to just move on the whole time.

I had all but forgotten about Adam Ant’s music and his general ” just do what you like, be yourself, and don’t worry about what other people think, and everything will be just fine” attitude. That is, until I began to approach becoming sober.

Goody Two Shoes, is a great jumpy, catchy tune straight from the memory of an adolescence spent watching MTV, you know back when it used to actually… oh you get the point. Listening now just makes me feel that it’s okay if I want to be sober. It’s weird but, given who I deal with on a daily basis, sometimes I need to be reassured of that.

Though it was written in 1842 and was only relevant once in my life Felix Mendelssohn’s Wedding March in C Major, never sounded better than when it was played through the speakers of a dumpster dived electric keyboard by my friend Ben as he sat cross-legged on the lawn of the courthouse on my own wedding day.

ben

Due to the circumstances of our wedding only a few people were able to be in the cramped little office where my wife and I exchanged our vows. Ben decided he was going to be part of that day regardless and waited outside the building to surprise us. Eleven years later, every time that cliché little piece of music is played, even if it is just part of a movie or a TV show, I am reminded not only of the love I have for my wife, but of how true friends will go out of their way to make themselves part of your life.

Image of Leonard Cohen  by, Simon James CC BY-SA-2.0

How to be Homeless

Homelessness and You:

~A Short Primer~

Welcome to the exciting world of the dispossessed. No matter what the circumstances that caused this, you are now counted among the dregs of society. Until further notice your well-being, and opinions count for diddly squat to the bulk of the populace. You are essentially a non-person. If you are to get through this and make out the other side you need to know a few things. Things I had to learn on my own.

The key thing that you’ll need to do is locate a few basic services.

  • Food
  • Clothing 
  • Shelter 
  • Hygiene
  • Entertainment and Information Services
  • Socialization

Food

This is the most import of all necessities, and fortunately the most easily obtained. Most cities or towns of any reasonable size has some religious group, social service or other outreach organization. Notable organizations I have encountered include The Salvation Army, St. Francis House, The Krishna’s, local/ state social service departments.

The level of service varies based on local and state laws and the availability of resources of a given organization. There is generally at least one if not more locations, generally a church or homeless shelter, that serve prepared meals daily. Get to know all of the available meal times and locations in your area, in some cases there are different venues that serve on the weekends. In some cases you will be asked to sit through a sermon or a short prayer prior to the serving of the meal. These people are doing you a favor, the least you can do is pretend to hear them out, even if you don’t believe a damned word of it.

You may be able to obtain, by of food pantries or similar services, a bag staple grocery items; canned goods, breads, pastas, etc. These services are often of limited availability, usually confined to use a handful of times per year.

In increasingly rare circumstances temporary food stamp assistance may be available in your area. All areas are trying to reduce homelessness, and have settled on a strategy of making it increasingly harder to survive to do so.

Clothing

Given a lack of available permanent storage, and a limited carrying capacity you will be spending quite a lot of time in the same set or two of clothes, so make sure they are comfortable. Everything has its limits however so knowing how and when to obtain more is important. You can usually find a charity in the area that has a clothes closet available or offers vouchers for use in various thrift outlets, again The Salvation Army is a good place to start for these services.

Select clothing that is durable, and easy to clean. Dark colors and cotton are your friend here. Pay special attention to footwear. Most of your days will be spent walking so make sure to select shoes based on quality and condition, regardless of how silly they may look. A clean pair of socks are always welcome.

If it is possible to select accessories, stick to those that increase your ability to carry. A good, well made backpack, shoulder bag, or purse is indispensable. The only other useful items in this area are belts or suspenders, and possibly a wallet. It’s not so much for money but a wallet is good for keeping  track of your I.D., if you lose that you may just be screwed.

Shelter

If you think you will just be able to crash at a homeless shelter, you are probably wrong. Besides needing clearance from the local police department before you will even be considered for admittance, most shelter spaces are either taken or reserved for women with children, and when you think about it that makes a fair bit of sense. The options this leaves you with are few.

As far as just getting some sleep goes, most places will roust you for sleeping in parks at night, but you should be fine if you just nap there during the day. Inclement weather is another matter that you will need to deal with however. If public places are your strategy then know where to find a convenient overhang or awning for rain, the police are less likely to bother getting out of the cruiser in a downpour. Colder weather simply requires more clothes and a blanket or two. If there is a freeze warning, or other dangerous most shelters will admit more people under emergency provisions.

In many locales there is a tolerated nest of transients, often refered to as Tent City. For reasons of safety and sanity I do not recommend these places. Much of the population there is composed of people who, for one reason or another, are not welcome at the shelters or feeding places. In general it can be assumed that this also a haven for violent criminals, dug abuse, and prostitution. I speculate the reasons these camps are tolerated is due to an issue of containment, they are a ready-made collections of suspects for the authorities to go conveniently raiding when they need to look like they are doing something about crime in the area.

My best advice is to keep floating as close as you can, for as long as you can, to normal society. Make a few kind-hearted friends and never abuse their trust. When times get too rough you can generally hole up for a few days, surfing on couches or camping out in van or other vehicle. Just make sure that under no circumstances that you over stay your welcome if you have any intentions of keeping them as friends.

Hygiene

An often overlooked factor is how hard it is to maintain any sense of cleanliness. Pay attention when you go to the shelters or soup kitchens, usually somewhere is offering laundry and shower facilities even if it is only one or two days a week. It may seem gross to use a public shower after some grubby homeless man, but remember you are some grubby homeless man and unless you wish to remain that way it’d be best if you just grow up and take care of matters. Most such places also will offer free disposable razors. Take one wether or not you plan on shaving, you never know when you’ll need something sharp that is legal to carry.

Staying relatively clean won’t just make it easier to keep interacting with regular folks, you’ll feel a lot better about yourself too. You will probably stay a lot healthier to boot, if I need to explain why you obviously failed health class. Pay special care with your teeth, you can get tooth brushes for free usually. I made the mistake of neglecting this area and now suffer from a host of preventable tooth and gum problems.

Entertainment and Information Services

Just being out and about watching society unfold offers nearly unlimited potential for amusement in and of itself, sometimes however you need to do something a bit more specific to pass the time, or you need to get a hold of someone or get current on recent events. In this case you’re best friend is the local library.

The library is a public space that is well equipped to serve may of your needs. It is crucial, when entering a new town to know where the closest library branch is. In addition to the obvious rows upon rows of books, there you will find access to newspapers, periodicals and local maps that will help you get the lay of the land. Here also is internet access, you may need a library card to use the computer services. Most shelters, even if they aren’t able to take you in, will assist you in getting identification and allow you to use their address for mailing purposes. This will make it possible, or at least easier, to obtain a library card.

Seriously, you’re homeless, you have a lot of time on you hands. Read, educate yourself, it’s for your own good. At the very least brush up on your favorite authors. My time spent on the streets is how I got fairly well acquainted with H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Philip K. Dick and a few others. It kept me out of serious trouble.

Socialization

No matter who you are, you are going to go quite mad if you don’t talk to people. There are two groups of people you have to maintain social graces with, The Homeless and Normal Folks.

It’s easy to see what you have in common with other homeless people. It’s important to maintain relationships with them. They often have solid information on what’s going on in town, and are generally willing to talk to new people. If you need to know where to find something or get access to services they’ll usually point you in the right direction. The thing is that, even though they are people just like you are there are a few hazards to bear in mind when dealing with them. Most people you encounter that are in your situation, if they spend enough time on the streets they like to feel like they are in control or doing you some special favor that you should one day pay them back for. Also a good number of them are addicts of some kind, and if you get involved with their lifestyle they will happily drag you to hell with them just for the company. Lastly, you know nothing about these people except what they tell you, I once found out I was hanging out with a wanted murdered because a cop spotted us walking down the street one day and arrested him, and nearly me as well.

I have mentioned already about keeping relations with normal society. If you ever want to get out of this situation in one piece it is critical for you to make yourself acceptable to some small corner of society. There are always ways of meeting these people, at coffee houses, outside of music venues. They might choose to associate with you for the novelty of the experience at first, or because life on the streets gives you access to connections they don’t have. They will probably be from the younger crowd, impressionable, idealistic, very easy to take advantage of. Be careful, don’t be the guy that’s just hanging around to ask for money or just looking to sell or score some drugs. These people can find you places to stay and potentially a job.

Every person that you find who is willing, for whatever reason, to interact with you is a resource, you need to treat them as such. You need to be able to discern their usefulness and spend time cultivating that relationship accordingly. It is useful to remember that most people you meet regardless of their role care little about you as an individual. Even social workers and outreach staff aren’t so much concerned with you as they are with the problem you represent, so don’t feel bad about taking the upper hand if the situation allows it.

In time you may be able to make a real and lasting friendship. Until then you are a hustler, get to know this about yourself, get comfortable with it. Chances are you’re going to be doing it for a while.

Devising an exit strategy

In the end there is nothing guaranteeing your reemergence into normalcy. It is mostly up to you spotting and exploiting opportunities as they come up. Relying solely on the good will of others, or worse expecting any kind of real assistance from government agencies is going to be a dead-end.

The only proven way to get out of this situation is getting into a position where you can obtain a source of income, and in time be able to afford a place to live. Legitimate work is preferable in the long-term but not quite as immediately lucrative as criminal activity. The irony of course is in the difficulty of finding legitimate, gainful employment when you are obviously a vagrant. I am afraid your prospects are only good for the jobs no one else wants.

Still, I advise an honest job no matter how menial the work or little the pay. I mean you’re a bum, it’s not like you’re too good for a fast food restaurant, or digging ditches. It is hard justifying taking abuse for very little upward mobility but, the longer you stay on the streets the harder it becomes to get back off them. There are plenty of people out there who have chosen vagrancy as an occupation, if you need motivation to eat a little crap at work now and then go have look at them.

Well that’s about all there is, I hope your stay on the bottom rung of society is as short and as pleasant as possible.

This guide was inspired by a Weekly Challenge

No Such Thing

“There is No Such Thing As Quit.”

That is what my father told me a few years before he died of lung cancer. He smoked for the entire time I knew him even while he was sick and dying, with breathing oxygen through a tube in his nose. He smoked right up until his breathing was too shallow to make it worth the effort, but by then he had morphine to help prevent him from caring to much about that.

It’s been almost two years since I stopped smoking; I had tried several time in the previous  25 years but it just never took. Quitting smoking seemed to get harder with every attempt. Tired, angry, and confused, became the normal state and I’m not sure how I made past the first few days. On day one I got to work and there was no coffee. Nicotine withdrawal, no caffeine and there I was surrounded by razor-sharp knives, lot’s of open flame,  what might have been (given the circumstances) the largest collection of aggravating people you could find without dealing directly with the government. Fortunately no one went to the hospital or jail so I was willing to mark it as a success.

Failure is an option

One of the hardest things is, that it is almost considered acceptable to cheat about it. In fact no one will hold it against you if you just start smoking again. People are so supportive of your decision, even most other smokers; but they all understand how hard it is to quit and if you “fall off the wagon”, well that’s OK at least you tried. 

“How long did you make it? Well that was a great try.”

“I’d have never lasted that long.”

“Aw, you were doing so well, what happened?” 

“Better luck next time man. Hey, can I bum one of those.”

All of the above is a bunch of bovine dung.

I’ve never told anyone but my wife this, I once bought one of those electronic cigarettes. I felt like such a coward for using it. Really if your going to breath in an addictive chemical, you might as well have some kind of health risk attached to it. Besides, now you have two groups of people who think you look like a schmuck, smokers and nonsmokers.

Finally There

The long haul of not smoking has been very easy, after the first few weeks. I got to a point where people don’t annoy me, more than they used to. However, even today I have little moments. I’ll be standing in a check out line and I’ll realize I am staring absent mindedly at cigarette display, or I’ll step out onto the side-walk and start searching my pockets for a pack of smokes that aren’t there.

I think I became a nonsmoker on the day that these small behaviors no longer bothered me. I’d like to think that this was what my dad meant about there not being such a thing as quit, that there are just things that stick with you no matter what. After all it was something I did for over half my life, it’s just a bit normal to miss having the habit. Now there are times I look at myself and wonder, how many toothpicks I go through each day.

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 I’m betting it’s a lot.

This post was inspired by a daily prompt.

Don’t Let Me Detain You : My brief opinions on The Patrician of Ankh-Morpork

 Terry Pratchett’s Discworld is quite possibly my favorite series of books. Pratchett’s satirical style is superbly draped across the backdrop of an anything-but-ordinary fantasy world. One of the more refreshing things about this as opposed to other long running series is, in my opinion, the ability for a new reader to be able to pick any of the books practically at random and not feel like he had missed anything to the point of being lost; the books are so much more connected by characters and setting than they are by a timeline of events, and though there is a bit of developed background to some stories the author does a wonderful job of  filling in the need-to-know in a quick, entertaining and plausible way.

Recently, I opted to post a quote from one of the earlier books on this blog in the interest of trying something new. The character whose line it is, the ruler of the City of Ankh-Morpork, quickly became one of my favorites in the series. I would sincerely doubt that one might find in fiction or reality a politician so honest and pragmatic as Havelock Vetinari, from. His approach to matters of state are humorous largely because how elegantly simple his solutions are.His rule embodies  many of the principles of  “benevolent dictatorship” but, he is not the lest bit squeamish about making hard examples in cases where it is required.When faced with the ordinary problem of what to about rampant crime, he put the criminals in charge of policing themselves; once the cities criminal leaders got everything nice and organized he let them know, politely and in no uncertain terms, that he was well acquainted with all of their personal affairs. This unique arrangement (which you will have to read the books to fully appreciate) is a cornerstone in the foundation of life in the fair city which he oversees.

"If it ain't broke, Don't Fix it.

“If it ain’t broke, Don’t Fix it.

Despite an obviously, deserved reputation for being a ruthless, manipulative, and intimidating tyrant Vetinari truly cares about the city and it’s citizens. What he knows about his people is, that regardless of what they might cry out for (equality, justice etc.) what most of them really crave is to feel safe in the knowledge that tomorrow is going to be the same as yesterday. This is a lesson he may have learned while studying his own family coat of arms.

He is greatly aware of the psychological  gears and levers that drive human nature and makes great use of the carrot-and-stick method of leadership. His rule is also largely effective due to a policy of thinly veiled threats to motivate civic leaders to sort out their own problems. When that fails he does have his methods, a favorite of mine is forbidding the city watch to get involved in the matter.

Lord Vetinari is a character that is able to find the order in an apparently mad world. His style of governance is applaudable in his policies of just letting people get on with their lives and only intervening when they insist on things being done the hard way; or as Pratchett writes in his novel Sourcery:

“He didn’t administer a reign of terror, just the occasional light shower.”

Havelock Vetinari, Sourcery, The Discworld, and all other things related to it mentioned in this article are copyrights of Terry Pratchett (And you should rush out immediately and read as much of it as possible)
Vetanari Family Crest By MichałRadecki (Own work) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I was unable to find a suitable image of Lord Vetinari that I could be certain was legal to use so here is a link to his Wikipedia Page which includes an image by Paul Kidby

Street Credit

“Reputation, it’s all about reputation,” Mr. Davis began, “And that, my friend, is just a matter of perception. You can spend years and years trying to build a reputation but if no one buys into it you are screwed. That’s where we come in.” He took a long pull of his bourbon, draining. The ice clinked together as he set the glass back on the table. “We could use a sharp-looking kid with a good head on his shoulders, much like yourself to head up this project. You got the chops, boy let me tell you we seen that, but what you ain’t got is the standing in the community.We can make that happen for you.”

Jerry looked down at his own, untouched drink and scratched his nose with his thumbnail. “What do you have in mind?”

“Well for starters, no one knows you around here, so we work that to our advantage; build you from the ground up. You’re from New York right?”

“Trenton, New Jersey. It’s the capital.” Jerry replied and reached for his glass. He held it but didn’t lift off the table.

“You’re from New York now, one of the boroughs. Doesn’t matter pick one.” Davis waved his hand to get the waitress’ attention. “You ain’t touched your drink. Whats the matter, ain’t you thirsty?”

Jerry picked up his gin and tonic, swirling it a couple up times and then put it back down. He watched the lime bob around for a moment and said, “I’m plenty thirsty, I guess. I’m just trying to pay attention here.” He picked it up again and took a short sip of it. “Go on, what else?”

The waitress dropped of another drink for Davis. he picked it up, took a sip and began to gesture with it, his index finger pointing out as he spoke “Right, that’s good. Just a little advice though, don’t fiddle with your drink so much. Makes you look nervous, it’s bad for appearances Where was I?

“New York.”

“New York,” Davis leaned back and a small burp escaped his lips, “Well, we got a guy in New York who’ll vouch for you. He’ll say you did solid work for him, nothin’ too heavy. Moving product, maybe a little strong-arm stuff. We can fill in the details later.”

“That don’t sound like it’d do much for my reputation,” Jerry scowled.

“Just the beginning my young friend. We got a guy here that’s looking to retire, you know get out. Now normally that ain’t easy to do but, we can make that happen. We set you up in his territory, there’s a small power struggle, you win. He leaves town for greener pastures, it looks like you ran him out. I don’t maybe we make it look like you whacked him, we’ll play it by ear.”

“Won’t that piss his bosses off?”

“Maybe. Maybe not. He’s kinda screwin’ things up on his own as it is but, they just don’t like getting rid of people unless they have to. Kinda makes the rest of their herd nervous,” he looked down through the ice at the bottom of the glass. “Point is they’ll notice you, they’ll do some digging and they’ll find what we set up for them find. They’ll look at your credentials and try to avoid a problem by getting you to work for them.”

“That easy, huh?” Jerry took a long swig off his gin, “You really think for one minute that if I waltz into their town, start working their streets, and get rid of one of their boys, that they’re just going to up and offer me a job? Sounds like bullshit to me.”

“We’ve done it before,” Davis replied. “I ain’t talking about you marching in like some damned storm trooper. We’re looking at a slow burn here, months of set up. Really take the time to build up your reputation, see. But you’re right it is bullshit. A whole great big mound of it, the trick is that we pile it up high enough that no one’s able to see around it. ” He finished his second drink and pushed the glass to the middle of the table. “So how ’bout it kiddo, you in?”

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This piece of fiction was inspired by a Daily Prompt.