If you pick your spots, and hunker down and take care of your own business, you get by, You get short. When you want more that’s when you get got. That was true in Nam and it’s damn sure true back here in the world.
Be smart doing something stupid.
The world comes down to power, money and pussy. If you want to boil it down, if
you got money, power and pussy follow. That’s science, nothing but facts that get proven over and over again. But that doesn’t work for me, never did. If I wanted it, wanted money like most of these cheese eating motherfuckers want money, I’d do a strong arm move and get it, shed blood and spill guts, and be the black Godfather for a day. Then shit would happen and I’d either be dead or locked up for more years than I’ve got in this life and the next. I work for cash, but I ain’t a slave to it. For most knuckleheads the more money you get the more you need, but I don’t live like that.
Got my van, all tricked out, with a soft ass bed, and a television that runs on a car
battery. Women give me play because I’m a buffed out black man, but when they see
how I’m living, and where; mostly in the parking lot, even if it is a Marina Del Rey
parking lot, I’m still living in the back of van, no matter how nice that van is, women get to stepping. It’s cool, because you know; I’m one of those weak brothers who gets turned out. When a beautiful woman gives me some leg that shit is like black tar heroin. You got to leave that black tar alone and I got sense to leave that kind of pussy alone. I’m like some goddamn dog that gets right grateful for somebody not kicking them in the nut—a police dog though, willing to rip out the guts of anybody who comes close to master. I remember Mercedes, fine ass black woman gave me some of that magic pootang, and shit, that bitch had me so strung out, no drug could do a better job. She had me doing nefarious shit. I guess just being back in country had something to do with it. I was so used to paying for it, I forgot how it makes you feel to get some for free. I was a gang of one, kicked so much ass for that bitch, beating people whenever she said it needed to be done, and I probably would be still doing it if she hadn’t got her ass killed and me near dead fucking with the wrong people. That’s why I stay away from beautiful women; I don’t need to get gut shot again. That’s why I got to raise on up out of here. Nothing’s good is gonna come of me busting a nut. It ain’t gonna be love it’s gonna be murder.
I drive the van and my hands steer us in the right direction, but my instincts tell my
brain to go back the way I came. My brain don’t listen. Black people been trained not to cross Colorado, to turn your ass around and head back to northwest Pasadena. Unless you’re cutting a lawn for them rich white people the police don’t want us there, unless it’s hanging off of a garbage truck. I was infiltrating, and if you infiltrating, you might get put down, and even if I was infiltrating, fully intending to do nefarious shit I wouldn’t do it around here. These neighborhoods scare the shit out of me. Like Night of the Living Dead happened and the fucking zombies ate everybody, over there, south of California off of Lake. You don’t see people, just big ass mansions that seemed to wait around for somebody to come close enough to grab and shallow them whole.
Why do rich need so much room for so few people? Why do rich white people
need so much privacy from each other, who they hiding from?
Back to reality: If the police do come rolling up they sure and the hell are gonna
stop the van and then we’d have to stand for a search, and I’d go straight to jail forever.
We drive in what feel like circles until I’m lost, nervous, and sweating. Finally she
points to goddamn haunted mansion; the real, Hammer film deal. The gate around this motherfucker is tall and sharp up top on the business end. She slips out of the van and tries to push the gate open.
“The gate is locked!” She says. “I’m gonna have to climb it.”
“I dunno, that’s pretty high,” I said, shaking my head. “Can’t you use that buzzer?”
“It’s broken,” she says.
Shit. I already did my good deed, got her home safe and all and didn’t rob her or rape
her. I don’t need to be doing this, risking everything, my van and five hundred dollars in bikes. I could just drive out to the Big Rock and just relax my mind and smoke weed to sunrise. But now I want her money and I want her. Now I can’t do what I need to do, take care of business the way I know how.
“Please wait for me,” she says.
I shout back, “I got to go,” but I can’t. It gets worse, a pack of dogs appear barking
their fool heads off.
“Don’t be scared of them.” She sticks her head through the railing and pets one of them big assed dogs, huge fucking Dobermans.
“Help me over,” she says.
“Cool,” I say. I sure ain’t putting my ass on the other side of this fence without an
M-16 in my hands.
I give her a lift and she flows over the gate and drops to the ground on the other side
so quickly the dogs scatter in surprise. “I’ll be right back,” she says heading off into the darkness.
Now is my chance to run, unzip the back pack, take the cash, and try to forget her big ass tits, back the van out of the driveway and don’t stop driving until I reach Canada. Head lights, the sound of a big engine. I sprawl behind a hedge.
I watch the patrol car stop in front of the mansion. A lone cop gets out with gun in
one hand and flashlight in the other. He surveys the scene then gets on the radio.
The gates open and the cops drive in. I see Barbarella standing in front of the now
“Come on, she says. Where were you going?”
“I wasn’t going, I was getting the hell out of here.”
“Come on, meet my old man.” She says, and takes me by my hand and leads me
toward the mansion. Up close it didn’t look so frightening, unless you’re scared of the
stink of money. This chick didn’t need drug proceeds to make ends meet. The grounds had hedges cut like elephants and zebras. We walk along a path heading towards the house and the pig waiting for us. I guess that was her old man, in the wheel chair, talking to him.
“That’s Daddy. He called the police. He saw us on the camera.”
Damn, now I get popped, and the white girl gets tucked in bed, nice and neat.
“Daddy, this is my friend…Calvin. He gave me a ride home.”
The dogs were gone, but now I got a pig glaring at me like he couldn’t think of
anything better to do than to shove a nightstick up my ass for fucking with a white girl.
“Sir,” I say, like I’m back in the service, and stick my hand out for him to shake it.
He’s an old man, frail and shrunken, but he shakes my hand hard like he means it.
“You served in Viet Nam?”
The old man snorts, “Iwo Jima, that’s some action.” He turns to the policeman.“I don’t need you, he says, and turns his wheel chair around and wheels to the open doors of the mansion.
I stand there as the old man retreats into the house, his daughter following him, and wait for the cop to say something. He looks at me like I’m some kind of animal he needs to test himself against; a man with a gun trying to stare down one unarmed man. In a heartbeat I see myself cold clocking this big pig but then I hear the squeaking wheels and the voice of the old man.
“What are you doing on the porch? I got the bourbons poured and you’re out here
I nod to the cop. “Guess I’ll be seeing ya’ll around.”
The cops grunt and retreat, and I realize that they work for him. Through the doors I see that the old man has wheeled ahead of me. I wonder where Barbarella is, feeling stupid because I still l don’t know her real name. There’s a woman standing there, a middle-aged and she’s straight out beautiful, with long dark hair pulled back into a long, fancy braid down her back. Mr. Ruston is in the parlor, she says. She’s got a thick accent. She leads me across a room big as a basketball court, but nothing much is in the room except for paintings and statues. The dark haired woman opens the door and I see the old man is sitting close to a fireplace big enough for me to step right into it without bending my head. The old man points to an overstuffed chair.
“Where did you find her?”
He asked before I sit down. At first I wasn’t going to say anything, but then I start talking, “At Zuma. I was at the beach and she asked me for a ride.”
“She came up to you, a complete stranger?” The old man asked, his eyes squinting and
his knuckles white as he grips the arms of his wheel chair.
“That’s what happened,” I said, ready to turn my back on this situation and not look
“Did she pay you?”
“Yes, she did. For a bike I sold her.”
He looked at me coldly, like he was waiting for me to lie.
”Are you a drug dealer?”
“No. I sell bikes.”
“Can you take care of yourself Mr. what’s your name?”
“The name is Calvin.”
“Can you take care of yourself?”
“That depends on what you mean by taking care of myself.”
“Don’t bullshit me, Mr. Calvin. You got that look about you that you’ve seen lots of
trouble, and you know how to handle it.”
I shrug and kept my mouth shut.
“Are you a man of your word?”
“I don’t worry about words. It’s what people do that kills you.”
“Don’t be a smart ass, Mr. Calvin.”
“I’m not a smart ass, Mr. Ruston. I sell bikes because I don’t get much shit with that. I had all the trouble I needed a long time ago.”
The old man pauses, like he was considering what I said.
“Was there a man with my granddaughter?”
“Yeah, guy who looks like a drugged out hippie and his pal.”
“Those two pieces of shit!” The old man’s shouted so loud that he startled me.
“Understand, Mr. Calvin, this isn’t about me. I’ve tried to keep Ashley safe, but this
bastard keeps coming back. But it’s not just him; she needs someone to protect her from herself,” he said gripping the armrests of his wheel chair until his knuckle were white. All the talking seemed to have tired him out. It took a minute for him to catch his breath to continue on.
“I want to trust you with my Ashley.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Keep that long hair son of a bitch away from her and far as I’m concerned you should
shoot that God damn Jew lawyer.”
“I don’t know if I have time for that, much as I would like to. I got my own business
to worry about.”
“Screw that! You’ll be working for me; one of the richest men in Pasadena. I can set
you up in this town.” The old man started to cough, a racking cough that got his beautiful nurse to run in. She waved me for me to leave the room, and she starts to administer to him. I waited in the marble floored cavern on a little bench, too small for my ass, having no idea of what I would be doing, where I was going or what. I didn’t hear Ashley coming because of her bare feet.
“Ashley,” I say.”
She frowns. “Call me Barbarella. I like that.”
“What’s the deal?”
“What do you mean?” She asked, smiling.
“Your Daddy just offered to pay me to watch your back.”
“Did you take it? If he wants to pay you, he’ll pay you well.”
I hear a “sir,” from behind me and there’s Ruston’s nurse, when I turn back to
Barbarella she’s rushing away. The nurse gestures for me to follow and she leads me to the second floor, where the bedrooms are. She opens a door to a room so fancy; I don’t feel comfortable looking inside, let alone crossing the threshold. I see this huge bed and suddenly I realize how tired I am. She turns the sheets back for me, and then opens an armoire and lays a robe and towel across the bed. She is one beautiful lady, brown skin strong legs and ass, and dark hair, streaked with a little grey. I hadn’t been sprung for a woman in damn near three years until this shit with Barbarella, and now I see another woman that got me going. Life is nothing but feast or famine. She finishes with the bed and turns towards the bathroom.
“If you would like a bath.”
“Yes, I would.”
“And if you are hungry.”
“I am hungry, but I wouldn’t want to trouble you.”
“It is no problem. I will have the cook prepare something.”
“Excuse me,” I said.
“Yes,” she says.
“How is he to work for?”
“I’m Mr. Ruston’s assist, she said. “It’s a good job. Please come downstairs when you
She left me alone in the big ass bedroom. Aching and tired, I stretched out onto the
bed. Seems like I had been running for days; running for my life, but at this moment it
felt like I had crossed the finish line, and I was the one who won. But one thing I was sure of, as I unlaced my combat boots, it sure and the hell wasn’t going to last.
About Rogue’s Rules
Rogue is based on a cousin of mine who came back from Vietnam damaged but determined to figure out how to put himself back together again. Los Angeles of the seventies was probably as decadent a place to be in the United States as anywhere, and I wanted a character who could move through that world and be tough enough to survive and maybe even prosper. Rogue is that character.