Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Cletus and Zeke in Charlotte, North Carolina

Cletus and Zeke were working for"Honest Abe" Hackum installing vinyl siding.

Cletus was expecting trouble ever since they started the house. The foreman directed them to start on one side, install siding on the back side then work up the opposite side before starting on the front.

Cletus mentioned in passing that was not the best way to do the job but the foreman told him to shut up and do what he was told.

There were no problems until they were about 1/3 done with the front when the foreman told them to shut down and lock up the trailer. It was 1:15 in the afternoon and there was no reason they could not have finished that day.

The original color had been a yellow-tone, toast color and the new siding was a rosy-toned brown. The two colors clashed.

A few minutes later "Honest Abe" himself showed up in his new Ford Expedition. It was a beautiful truck; customized with extra large metal flake graphite paint and custom aluminum rims and oversized tires.

Cletus had been parking up by the house so he was able to overhear the conversation between Honest Abe and the homeowner.

Honest Abe's patter was to congratulate the home owner on how much bigger his house was than everybody thought. That they had run out of siding and had to order more. Of course, the color was a special run and it cost a lot to get more siding, but another $5000 dollars should be enough.

The home owner was in his seventies and had a sign in his window indicating that he had a son in the navy.  The home owner flopped around for a bit. He really didn't have the money.

Honest Abe said he would be back in the morning after the home owner had slept on it. They always rolled over and Abe was confident that he would pocket another $5000 in pure profit.

Zeke was watching Cletus as he was listening.  "You are gonna do it again, ain't ya?" was all Zeke asked.

Cletus said, "I ain't decided yet." But of course he had.

About 8:00 that evening Cletus rang the home owner's door bell. He had a pair of bolt cutters in one hand and a newly purchased lock in the other.

"Abe lied to you." Cletus told the old man. "There is plenty of siding to finish the job. Siding you already paid for."

"I wouldn't be surprised if the lock hadn't fallen off the trailer parked on the street. If I was you, I would move all of the siding you already paid for and move it into your basement. Then, come morning, tell Abe he is fired and that you ain't gonna pay him the last installment for the job." Then Cletus handed the lock to the homeowner. "You might want to lock the trailer after you are done. Wouldn't want any riff-raff stealing Abe's tools."

The next morning Cletus parked in his customary spot up by the house. Honest Abe showed up thirty minutes later and blocked Cletus in.

Abe walked up to the front door. He was unable to completely hide the cocky strut of a man who is sure he has the world by the short-and-curlies.

The conversation with the home owner was short. The home owner fired Abe and refused to pay him.

Cletus asked Abe for their week's pay as they had another gig lined up in South Carolina.

Abe was in a very foul mood. Not only had he lost the $5000 in profit, he was out the $5000 from the last quarter of the job.

"Fuck you." Abe said. "I will pay you when I get around to it."

"I know you carry cash. Just pay us cash. Now." Cletus said.

"Fuck you." Abe said.

"Is that your final answer?" Cletus asked.

"Fuck you." Abe said.

Cletus got back into his truck. Zeke was in the passenger seat. "You got any of that 'head-banger' music on our iPhone?" Cletus asked.

Zeke sighed. He cued up up the music and maxed the volume.

Cletus started the truck and waited for the temp needle to come off the peg.

The windows were down, allowing the tepid, North Carolina breeze to waft through the cab. The home owner, hearing the ruckus peered out through the front window.

As soon as the needle was off the peg, Cletus shifted the transfer case into 4WD-LOW and shifted into reverse. Backing down the drive, he swung out into the yard to avoid Honest Abe's $80,000 Expedition.

Cletus's front bumper bar was a length of 6", Schedule 40 steel pipe. His cousin was a welder and happened to have a piece on hand that was about 24" longer than his truck was wide. Rather than cut it to fit, he left it long and mounted a vice on the portion that stuck out.

As Cletus cleared the Expedition...just barely cleared...he gave his steering wheel just a tiny twitch and the piece of pipe jammed into Honest Abe's front bumper cover. Cletus gunned the 318 CID V8 and the pipe gutted the Expedition from stem-to-stern; ripping off the fender and fileting open the doors and quarter panel, gashing tire sidewalls and gouging custom aluminum wheels.

Cletus jumped out afterward and said, "I am so sorry. Do you suppose that will buff out."

That is when Zeke started video recording Abe. It was epic.

***

The North Carolina State cop pulled Cletus over ten miles short of the South Carolina line. Old Dodge truck, red, Michigan plates. The charge was hit-and-run.

The back-up patrolman showed up seven minutes later.

Zeke and Cletus were cuffed-and-stuffed while the patrolmen sorted things out.

The second patrolman recognized Cletus's truck. All cops are attuned to vehicles and have a vast memory for such things.  "Were you working in Deer Ridge Subdivision north of Charlotte this past week?" the State Cop asked Cletus.

"Yup." Cletus answered. It had been his experience that you could never talk your way out of a ticket but you could certainly talk your way into one.

The second cop said to the first one, "Keep your eyes on those two jokers in the back seat. I want to check something out." as they stood outside the cruiser.

"Hey, Uncle Frannie, this is Coach Lynch...you know, Megan's coach. How is she doing? Ya reckon she will be over that cold by Saturday when we play Catawba?" the second cop said into his personal phone.

Uncle Frannie, whoever he was, took a few minutes to answer.

"How much longer is Jimmi gonna to be deployed? I sure would like Megan to play the whole season. She is as gritty as they come." Coach Lynch asked.

Uncle Frannie expressed his frustration in not knowing how long Jimmi's submarine was deployed for. That is just the way boomers are. You never know.

"So I heard you had a little bit of excitement this morning." the second cop said to Uncle Frannie.

Then he listened a bit.

The first cop heard the second cop say "Goodness! $10,000!" and "Threatened to shoot him if he didn't leave?" "Happened on private property?"

After hanging up, the second cop said, "We have the wrong folks. We gotta let them go."

The second cop apologized to Cletus for the inconvenience.  When the first cop was out of earshot, the second cop advised Cletus to avoid the area for a while, and even better, to stay away as long as he was driving that truck.

Zeke never even had to play the video he had taken.

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