"Fear not! Thou hast escaped from the wrongdoing
As you may or may not remember,
Auntie DJ, my job's hard; us Social Workers deal
with the underprivileged long, long hours. I'm
not complainin', mind; it's the Good Lord's work, to
serve the poor and needy. But San Francisco's cost o'
livin' dwarfs the pittance I get paid.
Hm, hm; I hear you.
Calls for what is known
pragmatically as "supplemental income"—meanin'
"something on the side"—to keep that big bad wolf named
Want from pantin' roun' my door.
I hear that, too; hm, hm.
So Bruce—you know, my business
partner (?)—Bruce an' me 'augment,' which means we do
some import / export; tryin' to make ends meet. Import
mostly. Coffee, tea, some curios now an' then; we buy
direct from countries o' origin then sell to folks
downtown. You get my drift?
I do. I'm listenin'
Well, my friend here, Ahmed, is one of our suppliers.
Just flew in from the Middle East, but sort o' by-passed, in
that process, some union-run freight forwarders—who're
none-too-pleased, an' claimed we owe 'em, sent some fellas roun' to shake us down for fees
inflated, natch, to serve their rank-and-file
skullduggery). You still with me?
It is doubtful Auntie's nod can be construed as
giving credence to a narrative Ahmed's vacant stare suggests he grasps
not well—though both appear content to let Joleena narrate.
Next part's nasty. First thing Ahmed
does is figure it's a hold-up. Draws his gun. I know; to
own a gun's un-Christian and to use one trumps the sin,
but you have to bear in mind these thugs were
armed-to-the-teeth themselves. You don't defend
yourself, you're sportin' holes Jehovah never made you.
Case in point, this six-inch 'dimple' newly carved in
your nephew's cheek.
So we had this standoff, three o'
them versus two of us. siz arms to four, when I got grabbed and held as
hostage, big ol' switchblade in my face; then flick; I'm
He do. POP! Down goes one. Decked me
the other one; drove my heel through the mutha...hugger's
loafer. That's two down, number three still standin'. Ahmed
cool, me spoutin' gore, an' Mister Union Boss sweatin'
BBs 'spectin' Ahmed's 'bout to off 'im.
Tell, do tell.
So we hightail it, rush on outta
there, drive to Gen'ral, wait and wait—I tell a whopper 'bout this pi'ture window
slicin' me like a melon. Stitched me up, they did, on
the inside and the outside, got discharged, then,
with no place safe to go, we boogied
on over here.
My word; some story!
Gospel truth. May I be struck...
Don't tempt the Lord, Joey.
No, ma'am; sorry.
This friend of yours stuck by you?
Like a bear protects its cub.
Regarding Ahmed, from her rocking chair,
Daisy Jane revises her initial condemnation to account for
Joey's yarn. If not the truth and nothing but the truth
(embroidery irrespective), it sounds plausible enough to
reassess the foreigner (not that noble actions ever can redeem
un-baptized souls). She sets her jaw, resumes the to and fro
that functions as accompaniment for the hymn she hums, then
sings—the lyrics speaking for themselves.
♫Rock of Ages cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee♫