dust boatman view thought





being on time      



Spenn Bolter was feeling good.  He got an almost new Buick off the back parking lot of State Savings Bank.  He drove straight to a self-serve car wash on Long Lake Road and changed the plates.  Foamed and rinsed, he was on his way to his 1 o’clock.  Spenn was glad the order was for a Buick.  He liked Buicks.  He felt important in his suit, like a real businessman driving to work.  This is a good road car, and easy to steal.  After work, he figured they’d lose the Buick in the A&P parking lot on North Road.


After their ham sandwiches, Rev drove.  He aimed the Buick down North Road, got on US 23 and headed toward Flint.  Spenn rode shotgun.  They moved steadily along, silently, both their windows cracked just an inch.  Each within their own thoughts and smoke of the moment’s Camels.


“How far is Miller Road?” Rev exhaled.


“Two exits.”


Spenn glanced across the cornfields.  He knew a girl over there somewhere, a couple years ago.  She lived on a farm going towards the Argentine Township area.  She was an answer to prayer, sparkling pretty, and she talked to him at the skating rink.  He went over to see her a few times and she showed him around the barn.  They never got to amen.  They were almost involved once when her dad came in the barn  


Spenn wasn’t thinking real straight but he remembers moving fast.  Time for dad to milk the cows?  Spenn did not know about milking cows at certain times.  She must have.  Why didn’t she say something sooner, anything?  He guessed she didn’t think of it, with all that was going on.




“Yeah, here, right here.”  Spenn was startled.  He had his head toward the passenger window, eyes a little glazed.  He squinted and blinked himself back to the here and now.


Rev glided up the exit ramp onto Miller and swung into the Howard Johnson parking lot.  He flashed his brights one time.  A well-dressed man standing outside room 137 flicked his smoke towards the planter, and missed.  Rev pulled around the parking lot as 137 started his Buick. Nice, Spenn was thinking and grinning as 137, in his Buick, followed Rev out back onto Miller.


Spenn gazed at the AC spark plug factory and the General Motors’ plants on both sides of Miller Road.  In between these huge buildings were the gas stations, bars, joints and dives of various repute and all the coney island places needed to refuel the workingman.  Spence was tensing and glanced at Rev.  He wanted to, but just knew not to ask.  He did not know Rev.

He did know that Rev would say what’s up when he was ready.   She was softly backing inside his head, but poof gone when Rev spoke.


“We are going to see Tommy Stancyk over at the union hall on Dort Highway.  Our friend in Detroit is concerned about Mr. Stancyk’s lack of attention to some business details.” 


Rev glanced at Spenn as he brushed some apparent dust from his lapel.


“Mr. Stancyk is a family man.  He and his wife stretched their imagination to name their boy Tommy.  Tommy junior got his varsity letter in football both years he spent in the 11th grade.  He is a senior now and the team is expected to win the state championship this year. Tommy is expected to graduate.  Either way he will go to work at the engine plant and join the union.” 


Rev had one hand on the wheel and one hand brushing more lapel dust as he continued.


“It is very important in counseling and in sales to have knowledge of your target.  Target, heh, what a word, it’s a good word.  It says what you mean.  You want to get to know the person.  As you get acquainted, you can relate to them better, see how you can help them.  A good salesman needs to relate, to help others make good decisions.  It is being a professional.  You with me?” 


Spenn was not expecting a question.  Rev is asking him a question.  “Yes sir, be professional.  I’ll learn from you.  I’m tryin’.”


Rev nodded towards Spenn.  “I like that tie.  That’s a good business tie you’re wearing.  Solid black clip-ons are always stylish.”  


Spenn nodded back.  He only had two ties. His other option was the clip-on black bow tie he wore when he was an alter boy.  He had made the right choice.


“Mr. Stancyk is a decent guy.  His union sponsors the bowling team.  He doesn’t bowl, or hunt or fish.  He does like to bet on the horses and play cards.  He doesn’t do either one very well and it gets a little expensive for him.”


Rev and Spenn startled Tommy Stancyk as they walked past his secretary- like blonde person perched at the reception desk.  Straight into his union hall office unannounced.  He was the kind of guy that did not take well to being startled or surprised.  Spenn took his place on a leather couch that sat to one end of Mr. Stancyk’s desk.  Rev pulled a chair up close to the opposite end of the desk.  He casually sat himself and leaned forward with a silent stare aimed at Mr. Stancyk’s reddening and sweating forehead.


“Well, good afternoon Mr. Stancyk.  I am Reverend.  We spoke on the phone last week, as you will recall.  You may recognize my voice.  I hope we have not come at a bad time.  I just set my own appointments when people forget to call me back.”


As the two men stared at each other, Rev adjusted his tie and patted his lapel crease.


“Who’s that on my couch?”


“He’s with me.  Mr. Stancyk, our mutual friend from Detroit, Jack Tomato, asked us to stop by and say hello.  Hello.  You know he is concerned about you.  He’s worried he hadn’t seen you at Hazel Park lately and he knows how much you enjoy the horses, and good card games.  I realize, of course, you are a busy executive.  Are you feeling okay?”


“Jeez, you people.  Where are you from?  You can tell Jack Tomato I’m good for the fourteen grand, jeez!”


Spenn watched Rev for any cue.


“Mr. Stancyk, sir, I wonder what you mean by ‘you people’.  What do you mean by ‘you people’? Are we not all the same?  You’re a teamster, the brotherhood.  I am a friend serving as a counselor, to assist you in squaring your debt from Hazel Park horse track.  Mr. Tomato gave you the courtesy of extending you credit in his private card game.  You and I are no different.  We are human beings, living life.  Let me ask my assistant, Mr. Bolter, what the key word is.  Mr. Bolter?”


“Reverend, I believe the key word there is ‘living’, as you used it in ‘living life’, as opposed to not living life.”


“Thank you, Mr. Bolter.  I’m sure Mr. Stancyk here meant no disrespect to either of us, or Mr. Tomato, with his remark.  Did you, Mr. Stancyk?”


The silence was broken only by the spasms of heaving breathing coming from Mr. Stancyk. 


“Jeez, you guys, you, I mean ya’ just, jeez you just startled the hell outa me, jeez ya’ know, comin’ in here like this.  But no, no, of course not.  I wouldn’t mean to disrespect Jack, ah, Mr. Tomato, or, jeez, you, or either of ya’, I really wouldn’t, ah, Mr. Bolter, ya’ know, Mr. Reverend.  I’m certainly sorry if I gave that impression.  You both just surprised me, jeez man, comin’ in here.”


“We drove one of your fine General Motors’ cars here today, body by Fisher.  It’s the Buick out there in your parking lot.  Big seats, big trunk.  Wouldn’t you say it’s a big trunk, Mr. Bolter?’


“Oh, certainly a big trunk.  Biggest one made.  A person could take a nap in that trunk, long nap.”


“Now, you recall our phone conversation of last week, do you not?  I said I’d come to see you.  I was concerned when you never called me back and this matter didn’t get straightened out.”


“Well, jeez okay, so here you are, both of you.  So, I mean, ah, jeez what do you want?  I mean what’s gonna’ happen now?”


Rev placed his cigarette on the edge of the already full ashtray.  He brushed his lapels again.  He checked the crease in his jacket sleeves as he pushed himself firmly into the back of his chair.  He looked toward Spenn for a brief moment, and then began an eternal stare at Tommy Stancyk.


“Mr. Stancyk, sir, you owe a debt.  You need to place an envelope with fourteen thousand dollars worth of American currency, cash, on your desk, right now.  We can then be on our way.”


“Reverend, ah, Mr. Reverend, ya’ know, I told you last week I’d make it right.  I’ll pay it.  But jeez, you know, I mean, I don’t have money like that laying around here.”


Rev wondered to himself what kind of union boss would not have at least fourteen thousand dollars in his desk or brief case.  Maybe they bribe people on credit here in Flint.


Mr. Stancyk, sir, you told me you would call me.  No call, so I am here.  Your words mean nothing now.  I am here to collect, today.  Our counseling session is just about over, time is running out.  You, sir, need to get thinking right.”




dust boatman view thought