The Amazon Patrol

Keaton’s still driving his Amazon truck four days a week, and he hasn’t told them to take their job and shove it. At least not yet lol. Besides, he says the money’s ok…which is more than we can say about my unemployment now that it’s gone down by $600 a week. Yeah…I’m one of the many people out there who’s seriously fucked by that…and there’s still no sign that I’ll be going back to work anytime soon. I don’t want to keep pestering Mr. Balsam, but I may need to take an interim job. Joyce is still dead set against my going to work for Amazon…but Meemaw suggested that, if I got another job, that would somehow make Mr. Balsam take me back at the hotel. Life sometimes works like that.

My rent is paid for this month, but I don’t know what’s gonna happen come September. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be back at work before then.

So I was over at Keaton’s on Friday, having a beer and feeling kinda lazy because I hadn’t done a whole heck of a lot the whole day. He was on the couch with a Golden Monkey and I was in the beanbag and starting to doze off.

“Wake the fuck up, bubba,” he said. “I’m the one who was driving around in the fuckin heat all day. You got to sit home in the air conditioning.”

“Only for a few hours,” I said, “I can’t afford to run it all day long. I needed three showers today to cool off. And if I was the one complaining about the heat, you’d say I was being all gayass.”

“I was out in the heat a little more than usual today,” Keaton said.

“What happened?”

“They had my route going through El fuckin Monte. It was unfamiliar territory and there were some things I wasn’t expecting. Like an elotera making her rounds.”

“A what?”

“The lady who goes around with the shopping cart selling corn on the cob with mayonnaise and cheese and chile…”

“I know who you mean. One of them came by Abel’s birthday party and we bought her out for the day.” Then I thought of something. “They still have those with COVID?”

Keaton shrugged.

“Seems like it. Everyone’s gotta make a living…and nobody’s paying them unemployment. So when I saw her, I pulled the truck over, and got myself a corn.

“The corn lady was older and had grey hair…but maybe she wasn’t as old as she looked. I asked her how business was going, and she said it was a slow day. She was super nice, though, so, I finished my corn talking to her and got another for the road. Better lunch than you’ll get at McDonald’s.

“Then it was back in the truck and back onto my route. The fuckin GPS had me going in what felt like fuckin circles for almost an hour. Then I knew I was going in circles because I ran into the corn lady again.”

“Did you get a third elote?”

“No. This time she was having some trouble. There were two punks giving her shit.”

“What kind of punks?,” I asked.

“SGV trash, probably Lucas’ age. Not too old to be riding skateboards.”

“What were they doing?”

“Like I told you, bubba…giving the elotera a hard time. I wasn’t sure until I stopped the truck, but when I did I could tell they were in the process of ripping her off.”

“The fuck? Some poor lady who has to walk her feet off all day pushing a shopping cart so she can sell corn on the cob for two bucks apiece?”

“The world’s full of dumbfucks, bubba. Anyway, I stopped the truck right in front of her shopping cart and got out.”

’Estan locos?,’ I asked the two punks. That wasn’t exactly what I wanted to say, but there was an older lady present.

“’Butt out, asshole,’ one of them said to me in English.”

“He fuckin said that to you?”

“Yep,” said Keaton. “There are some extra special dumbfucks in this world.”

“How big was he?”

“Smaller than me,” Keaton said. “Both of them were. Don’t ask me how much smaller – I don’t have your gayass talent for guessing people’s height and weight. All I know is I was looking down at them.

“’Did you just call me an asshole, muchachito?’

“’Fuck yeah I did. Gonna do something about it?’

“’It wouldn’t be a fair fight.’

“’Because there are two of us and only one of you?,’ the other one asked.

“’Nope,’ I said. ‘Because there’s one of me and only two of you.’

“That pretty much got them,” Keaton said.

I can understand how. Me and Keaton are still wearing those disposable light blue masks he bought a shitload of before the quarantine started. I’ve told y’all that people with blue eyes like to wear blue shirts. Well…the blue masks have the same effect. Joyce has always liked my eyes, and she said that they look even more like sapphires when I have my mask on. (She says it jokingly these days…not the way she said it the first time when we first started going out.) Y’all may remember that Joyce thinks that Keaton’s eyes are ‘piercing’; the blue mask only makes them more threatening when he wants them to be.

I figure that’s how he can get a couple muchachitos from El Monte to back down without even needing to make a fist.

“So there was a standoff for a couple seconds while I just looked at them and they let it sink in…then they turned to leave.

“’Whoa,’ I said, ‘you’re not done here yet.’

“’What the fuck?,’ asked the one who thought he was tough.

Tomaron su dinero?,” I asked the woman, who was probably more surprised to see an Amazon driver coming to her rescue than the dumbfucks were to see me.

“She didn’t show any signs of answering.

“’How about it, muchachitos? Did you get any money out of her? Come se llama, señora?’ She said her name was Lucero. ‘Did you take any of Doña Lucero’s money?’

“They just stood there; I just looked at them.

“Finally the second one said yes.

“’Hand it over.’

“The one who thought he was tough finally realized that he had better not fuck with me anymore, and pulled out a few bills from his pocket. He handed them back to Doña Lucero.

“’You’re not done here,’ I said. ‘Tienen que pedirle perdón a la dama por su falta de respeto.’

“They said they were sorry right away.”

“What did the corn lady do?”

“She was kinda in shock at this point.”

“I can imagine,” I said.

“’Are we done here?,’ the second one then asked.

“’Excuse me?’

“’I mean…can we go?’

“’That’s better. And no you may not. You’re gonna buy some elote from Doña Lucero to show you’re really sorry.”

Dos elotes,” I said to the woman. “Con todo.” I wouldn’t of been able to stand it if they’d asked for one of those gayass containers of the kernels off the cob. so I ordered for them. Then I added, without asking them: ‘con mucho chile.’ They looked like the kind of second-generation SGV trash that’s afraid to eat picante.

Doña Lucero made them their corn. Then she looked at me for a second and back at the dumbfucks.

“’Dos dólares,’ she said.

“’Nope,’ I said. ‘Tenemos un precio especial para imbéciles’ – I was thinking of a different word, but I didn’t want to use it in front of Doña Lucero – ‘diez dólares.’

“Then I just stared the tough one down until he forked over ten bucks.

“The other one just stood there. So I added:

“’Each.’

“He dug real fast into his basketball shorts and came out with a five and a couple singles.

“’All I got is 7,’ he said.

“’Give your asshole buddy the other 3,’ I told the first dumbfuck.

“He did.

“’Now you can get the fuck outta here. I recommend you do it as fast as you can.’

“They got on their skateboards and did like they were told. Doña Lucero said she was worried about them carrying corn on sticks while they were on their skateboards. I told her the dumbfucks weren’t worth worrying about. Then she started to thank me, I said ‘de nada’ once and got back in the truck.”

“That was pretty awesome of you, man.”

Keaton just growled. I figured he might.

“It sounds like one of those stories they put on the end of the news on the TV.”

“Fuck that,” Keaton said. “What was I supposed to do? Watch an old lady get ripped off of her day’s earnings?”

“Other people would have.”

“Would you?”

“You’re making this sound like that TV show.”

“What gayass show is that?”

“Something about what would you do in difficult situations. I’ve only seen promos…it looks lameass as shit,” I know…I’m watching too much TV these days lol. “I don’t know that I’d of gotten out of my car. But why are you asking me? You’re just gonna say I’m a pretty boy and nobody would find me intimidating anyway.”

“At least not until you hit them,” Keaton said. (Thanks, man.) “But this wasn’t a situation for violence,” said Keaton. “Young dumbfucks like that are easy to scare.”

“I’ve seen some young dumbfucks at the bar get into it with you when they shouldn’t have.”

“That’s a drunk young dumbfuck,” Keaton said. “Different type of dumbfuck. Dumber than the average dumbfuck. You should know about that.”

“Fuck you,” I said with a laugh. Although he was right: I’ve been young, drunk and stupid and started fights with bouncers way bigger than me before.

But now we know the streets of El Monte are safe for eloteros. Y’all have seen the commercials for Amazon, the ones where they try and make us think that they’re super careful about COVID and how happy the people working for them are? They ought to do one about Keaton policing dumbfucks. There are a ton of Amazon trucks out on the road. It would be pretty dang awesome if they patrolled neighborhoods in addition to just delivering packages.

(Dang getting all those single and double quotes right is a bitch to do. I swore I wouldn’t do it again after the post about Keaton in Fairbanks, but you kinda need to hear Keaton talk to get some of his stories. So don’t hold it against me if I fucked some of the quotation marks up lol.)

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