It wasn’t an exceptional day. It was just one of those days that if you looked up the patch of visible sky was off-white. One of those days that, when you showered you never seemed to dry. One of those days when the only place to be was inside; doors and windows hermetically sealed and the air conditioning up full. It was a day like that that Mike Morann found himself in mid-town, 59th and Lex to be exact; an accident had jammed the place. Horns blared, cab drivers screamed, it was humid and nothing had moved for nearly two hours. Mike Morann thought, Manhattan was always hot, thirteen million people nuts to butts, of course its going to get hot.
Mike was getting it in the neck from Fat Howey in the Depot. Fuckin eye-tie. But if Mike had listened to Howey instead of rolling a spliff. He’d have headed downtown and dropped the load on Bleekers and he’d be washin out back at base now. But he was rolling a spliff and thinking how bad could it be anyway and turned onto fifty-fifth and was now caught in the backup on Lex and was heading uptown with a load that was worthless. It was sixty Newton stuff and had gone hard in the mid-town traffic.
So hey, he took a wrong turn. What’s a guy to do? Can a guy not screw up once in a while? Can a guy not spliff up once in a while? Hell, wasn’t it only his first day after all. What does that guinea wop expect?
Mike had two choices, one, he could wait it out and get back to the depot. It was quite relaxing when he turned off the radio and Howey, just sitting there, on his perch. High up above everyone else. But tomorrow he’d have the job of jackhamrin the shit out. The worse frickin job on the planet. He contemplated this and lit up another one.
Or, he could abandon ship. Just bail. Just leave this big yellow mother sitting right here, right in the middle of Lex. Take his lunch, his five Quaaludes, leave the empty bud cans, climb down, swing that big heavy door shut and be back in Mulligans suckin on a cold one in time to catch the whole thing on channel five. Then Howey‘d have a real fuckkin kiniption. He’d like to hear him then, phoney cocksucker. He’d have to get some of the other drivers, put them on overtime, come in, pick it up and put a night crew on hackin the shit out.
And that’s just what Mike did. Left that big Yellow mother blockin up Lexington and got the number 7 at 59th street to Sunnyside and got off at fortyninth street, crossed the Boulevard and straight into Mulligans. None of the guys were in yet and Jimmy Buckley from the county Cork was sitting on a bar stool outside the counter flickin channels.
Mulligans was cool and the ‘Buds’ were cool and the young wetbacks when they came in were cool. And by seven o’ clock Mike had convinced himself once again that the Moranns were no quitters. Howey owed him a days pay and no Wop was going to screw a Morann. Okay, so he could go back, hammer it out and get back in the saddle. Who knows, Howey might even give him a bonus for all the free advertising he got him on channel five.
Though the wetbacks wanted to buy him beers.He didn’t stay long at the bar He wanted to keep the job, he’d go back and hack it out, hard work never hurt a Morann, right, and he had a secret weapon and how hard could it be anyway. Maybe a little therapeutic even.
He got Jimmy Buckley to put a pint of vodka on his tab telling him he pay him Friday when he collected his check. He picked up a dozen oranges at Menzies on the corner. Back in his apartment He injected the oranges with the vodka, and placed them back in their red net bag. That was his secret weapon. When he had the full pint injected into all twelve he crashed.
Next morning he was up and shaved by six – it was a brand new day. He sat in Menzies with his dozen oranges and had a coffee and two cigarettes. He’d prove it to Howey. No eye-tie was going to put one over on Irish.
He was at the depot for six fifty five. Howey was there and didn’t know whether to punch him or hug him.
Okay so he’s back, what a pair of fuckin cajones this guy’s got to come walking in here, after abandonin 306 with sixty N on in midtown, and gets me all over channel five. Can you believe this guy. Fuckin mick. Let him get this thing hammered out and then I’ll fire his dumb ass.
A team had been jackhamrin through the night before it got really hard. But there was still half of it to get out and it just kept getting harder and harder.
Mike donned the goggles and the earmuffs and the dust mask. He was buzzed, Howey had given him a second shot and he wasn’t goin to blow it. He’d make a burst before the day got hot. Inside would be unbareable in the ninety degree heat. He’d get most of it done and come back in the cool of the evening and finish it off. Pieceacake, right or wrong? Howey shouldn’t have a problem with that. Tomorrow, it would be like nuttin ever happened and Friday he’d be collectin his paycheck with the rest of the guys.
But sure as shit that concrete was already as hard as a grooms cock and after five minutes Mike had his first orange and had one every ten minutes after that. By nine the dozen oranges were gone and he was sweatin like a Suomo in a sheepskin but was flying and thinkin, who needs this shit anyway?
At midday Howey waddled over to 306.
I gotta see where this guys at, he hasn’t stopped all morning. He didn’t even take his coffee break. Maybe I was wrong about the guy. A little admiration for the mick was beginning to well up inside Howey.
Howey stuck his head through the hatch and was blinded by the dust.
“Hey Irish you in there? You in there Irish?”
He shouted but presumed Mike couldn’t hear him. He waited. There was no change in the sound of the jackhammer, it was constant. He pulled the airline and the hammer died. He waited expecting Mike to stick his head out to see what the problem was. He waited, no Mike.
Thick fuckin Irish Mick, he’s probly after goin an asphyxiatin’ hi’self or somethin’.
When the dust cleared Howey could see the hammer lying on the base of the drum and the handle was tied up with the red net bag that had held the oranges. Mike had bailed.
“If I see that Mick again I’ll whack the fuck…”
But by that time Mike was back in Mulligans suckin on a cold one and playing pool with a wetback and given him advice about finding work.
On Friday he rang Howey from Mulligans for his pay check, – after all, he worked what he worked.
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