From "A Score Without a Film"
The reason I chose St. Anthony’s was because it was too sleazy for any pig to patrol. Plus, even if they had it in mind, their squad car could only be parked in the alley out back. I knew it’d be easy. I done small jobs here and small jobs there, but with Jimmy about to cut my throat over 5 grand, I knew I needed somethin bit bigger. So I chose St. Anthony’s, because it was to be so expected that no one would guess. That schmuck that runs it has no clue either. Doesn’t even have the mind to know what his shit is worth.
I’d stopped by there once before. My girl wanted something to flash around in front of her ladies, so I figured I’d get a necklace – so long as it was cheap. I hustled the sucker, convinced his ass to sell that shit half price. Shit, so I knew it was the place to go. The guy was a moron, but I knew he had enough mind to keep a loaded gun in the place. So I rolled in with my .45, but with no intention of bloodying up those walls. Just for protection, you know? In case shit got uglier than it was supposed to.
So I stroll in and the old fool’s doing a crossword, and I think shit, I got this made. And he’s got this smile, like this is the best shit he’s ever done. Didn’t even look up when I walked in. So I start strolling around, you know, looking half interested and shit, not attracting attention. And this guy only looks up once. The whole time. Shit! I walked out 2 minutes later with this ring, a 4 karat, right on my fucking hand! I walk down to the pawnshop a block away, and sell that shit right then and there. The little fucker tried to give me less than that shit was worth. But I got him up to where it was supposed to be. Easiest money I ever made.
Started like a normal day. Washed some punk’s puke off the sidewalk before I could even unlock the place. I looked at the crumbling bricks seasoned in graffiti and prepared myself for another day. And it was just another day, though it coulda been different if I had tried to be the big man. Put up the open sign and just sat, waiting for a con. You know, if I had just stuck to the right hustles, it woulda been different. Never shoulda learned to bet on those horses. And I’d never have met the whiskey if I hadn’t lost so much on those damned tracks. Coulda got out of this shit hole. The only good thing about the jewelry shop was the profits. People don’t know nothing about jewelry. They know as much as I know bout the horses.
This tough looking thug walks in about 9 o’clock, and I think, this hood aint buying jewelry at this hour. I seen him before too. Sold him a necklace for two bills and it wasn’t worth ten bucks. Put a smile on my face, remembering that easy money. This time, he wasn’t buying nothing. Thieves, they all got the same tell. They stand there looking at a piece, but they’re not looking at it. They’re looking through it.
He thought he was smooth. Picked up two rings, put em on the same hand, then only took one em off. I’da said something – made him pay, but he had a gun. Got a bookie after me, so I been keeping the gun at home, for protection. So I was sitting there like some chump, figuring out what to do. So I decided not to be a hero today, cause the hero always dies at the end, you know? I asked myself, your life worth risking over that 5 dollar ring? Probably isn’t, but at the time it felt like it. Plus, I’d already swindled him for two hundred.
I recently spent a week volunteering at the Sea Turtle Conservatory (STC) in Tortuguero, Costa Rica. This small town prides itself in being home to the largest Sea Turtle population in the Western Hemisphere. The individuals at the conservatory dedicate themselves to protecting endangered species of Sea Turtles in the area, such as Greenback, Leatherback, and Hawksbill Turtles. These turtles, some of the most ancient life forms still in existence, are now threatened by extinction because of the haphazard hand of man. Not only do factors such as pollution and litter affect their well being, but poachers are also out there willfully attempting to undo the good work that conservatories such as the STC are doing. In Costa Rica, turtle eggs are perceived as an aphrodisiac, which creates a black market demand for these freshly laid eggs. On top of that, poachers can profit from the turtle meat and shells, which are used to create jewelry.
My experience volunteering was thoroughly frustrating. Each week, we would patrol the eastern beach of Costa Rica, attempting to facilitate turtles with the laying of eggs and monitoring their travels by tagging them. Our very presence deterred poachers that patrol the same beach for significantly less righteous reasons, but I soon learned how little we were helping. In our one-week stint at the conservatory, I saw only one Hawksbill Turtle after 30 hours of walking up and down the beach that totaled to about 60 miles worth of patrol work through the soft, Costa Rican sand. I have been informed that at the same location, 2,400 turtles were counted on a single night. As we encountered our single turtle, poachers were already attempting to drag it off of the beach just as it was preparing to go into labor. Our presence scared them away and we were able to tag the turtle and assist it through the birthing process. By the time I had woken up 6 hours after this incident, the volunteers checking nests in the early morning had discovered that a poacher had already stolen all of the eggs. The service work was physically, mentally, and spiritually distressing. We as volunteers felt so small, trying to undo the infinite blunders of mankind in a short week. As I return of America, the home of excessive living and wasteful lifestyles, I wonder what good I did to help. There was simply too much to be done, too much to be undone.