Eze called his insurance company and they told him that they needed a voided check before we left town so they could withdraw payments from his account. He was pretty pissed about this because he had already given them a check, and one of the girls lost it. I could already tell that he had a low tolerance for incompetence.
He was ready to be on the road instead of driving downtown. When we got to the insurance office there was no parking directly in front, so he stopped the truck at the intersection and asked if I would wait with the truck while he ran in and gave them another check.
I said “Sure, no problem.” What else was I going to do? It didn’t make any sense to be driving around downtown looking for parking anyway. I was ready to go too.
The light was red when Eze got out of the truck. As he started walking I heard a black guy cussing out the window of the car right next to us.
“Yippee ki yay, Mother Fucker!”
We both were looking around to see who he was yelling at.
“Yeah, you! Are you just stupid or what?”
Eze looked around again to see no one else, and turned back to the guy in the car and said “Are you talking to me?” He was actually sincere and respectful when he told the guy “I think that you have me confused with someone else Amigo, because I know that I don’t know you.”
“You really are a dumb mother fucker! Who else do you think that I’m talking too? You’re lucky I don’t get out of this car and kick your ass!”
Well, that did it! I was caught off guard as to everything going on, and I was scared for what was about to happen next.
Eze had a squint of a smile as he walked directly up to the car door and opened it, without hesitation. Now, his tone was calm and serious. “Alright then, let’s do this right here, right now! It’s a beautiful day to whup your ass! Get out, or I will drag you out by your throat!”
There was a Mexican guy driving the car, and a blonde girl in the back seat. Both of them could see that they were in over their heads and were telling their friend to just shut-up as the light turned green.
The driver said “Let’s just go,” and started to pull through the intersection. Eze slammed the door and turned to continue his way to the office.
The brake lights came on and the car turned into a parking space that had opened up while all of this was going on. The black guy jumped out of the car and onto the sidewalk. He was about 6’4, and outweighed Eze by at least 20 pounds.
I couldn’t hear what was being said, all I know is the girl in the back was screaming, and the Mexican driver got out and started to circle behind Eze. Everything was happening so fast, I didn’t know what to do.
Eze didn’t even miss a step. He was just about to get around the black guy when he got pushed in the chest. That was it. In a flash, Eze clamped down on the guys throat with his left hand. His right hand came up and grabbed an ear, and in one movement he was running forward and slammed the back of the guys head through the huge glass window of the insurance office.
The Mexican came running up to stop everything and Eze kicked out with his boot. I saw his right knee snap. He fell to the ground screaming. I just knew that people were going to die. I panicked and jumped behind the wheel and I drove the truck onto the sidewalk while reaching for the Glock.
The black guy tried to free Eze’s hand from his throat by swinging wildly, only to hit Eze on the arm. That just seemed to fuel his rage even more, and he one-punched the guy square on the face and dropped him to the ground.
I jumped out with the pistol pointed in the air and yelled “Stop it! All of you! No More! It’s over!”
Eze glared at me, “Pooh! Put the gun away, and pull the truck off the sidewalk. I’m going into the office to give them my damn check and then we’re leaving.”
He was stern, yet very calm. He just turned around and walked into the office like nothing happened. I didn’t know what to do, and I had a loaded gun in my hand!
I quickly jumped into the truck and threw the gun on the seat. I started it up and backed it off of the sidewalk. Just as I was getting ready to park it I was surrounded by police cars. Lights were flashing everywhere. Police were running all around with pistols and shotguns drawn. They were running toward me! Oh my God! They’re coming after me!
“Put your hands up! Get out of the truck! Turn around! Now! Do it now!” I was like a robot. I didn’t think. I did exactly what they told me!
I saw Eze step out of the office almost laughing, and telling all of the cops “Settle down boys. Let me explain what’s going on!”
Now, all of the guns and yelling turned toward him. They threw him down on the ground, and handcuffed him while he was trying to tell them “I’m the one that got jumped you dumb-asses!”
One of the cops stepped on his face, as he put his pistol right up to Eze’s mouth and said “Shut your mouth boy! Not another word or I’ll blow your face off! Not another word!”
Then, for the first time, I saw the look in Eze’s eyes. I will never forget the fear that I felt inside of me at that moment. There was such a rage inside of him. He made me believe that if those handcuffs were not on him he would have killed all twelve cops before one of them hit the ground. I don’t know why I felt that but it was the clearest image I had ever seen in my mind.
Who was this guy?
What has he done?
I told the officer closest to me the entire story. I apologized about driving onto the sidewalk, and pulling out a gun. I didn’t know what else to do. He told me that everything was making sense now. They had gotten a call from a lady at the bank across the street that a man was in front of the bank beating up a small black child. Someone was flashing a gun, and everyone thought the bank was getting robbed. He just chuckled to himself when he thought about what actually happened.
There were a few cops in the office talking with the insurance girls, one with me, and the rest of them were guarding Eze. I don’t know what happened to the guys that jumped him. I never saw them leave but the car was gone too. The girl must have driven because neither of the two guys could even walk.
I didn’t know what was taking so long, but it was at least fifteen minutes before someone in charge stood Eze up, and took the cuffs off of him. He was still pissed.
We all went into the office and the Captain was scolding Eze for the whole incident. He said “We found the three suspects a few blocks away. Both of the males are on their way to the hospital. The Hispanic appears to have a dislocated knee. The Black one’s left ear is barely hanging on, and has a collapsed trachea to go along with a crushed orbital socket. His father wants to press charges against you.”
Eze stared down the Captain, “You can tell him that’s his problem. He should have raised his son better. Don’t worry though. You can make up some bullshit, and tell him that I won’t press any charges if he lets it go. Make it look like you had a stern talk with me, and corrected my ways. The bottom line is I want that piece of shit who wears a size 10 boot to come and talk to me now that I’m not cuffed. You can even tell him to keep his gun!”
“Whoa now,” said the Captain, “Don’t be threatening any of my officers! You’re lucky I don’t run the both of you in for brandishing a gun!”
Eze looked him straight in the eye and said “Captain, my Amigo is not familiar with your kind, and feared for my life. He only did what he thought was right. He was scared and was trying to help me!
Just then I blurted out “No I wasn’t! I thought that you were going to kill both of them! That’s why I grabbed your pistol. I was going to try and shoot you in the leg, or somewhere, so they could get away!”
Everyone started laughing as Eze gave me a stern look. He then smiled to the Captain. “You see, even though he is a bit shook up, he still has a sense of humor. I love this guy! Now shut-up and get in the truck Pooh, we’re leaving!”
He looked up at the Captain, “If that’s okay with you, of course?” He didn’t even wait for a reply before he turned his back to the two girls and said “Ladies, I believe that you two owe me and my Amigo dinner! After all, if one of you hadn’t lost my check we would already be in Austin. Besides, I could have been killed today. You heard my Amigo, he was going to shoot me!”
They both giggled a little, and then, they had a genuine look of remorse for what just happened. “Aw, we’re so sorry Mr. Coltello.”
“Ladies, it’s Eze, just like Easy. All of your work is done today. Besides, it wouldn’t be safe for you to work with all of this broken glass. There’s a little Mexican cafe around the corner called Los Norteños. The two of you can accompany the two of us for big plate of their greasy enchiladas!”
“Well, Yes. Yes, of course Eze. That would allow us to make up for this whole incident! We won’t be able to leave for at least half an hour. Can we meet you there then, if that’s okay, I mean.”
“You know, I guess that will have to do for now,” as he turned looking at me with a wry smile and a thumbs up by his side. “I thought I told you to get in the truck?”
I couldn’t believe it. We just walked right out of there without another thing said. Eze told me to just shut-up and get in the truck. I did, and we drove a few blocks and then stopped and parked the truck in front of a bunch of old shops.
He turned off the truck, and looking straight ahead said, “You know, you did the right thing by getting my back, but if you ever do decide to shoot me, you better aim for the head, because it would really piss me off if you shot me in the leg with my own gun.”
He opened the door and said, “Now let’s talk with my Amigo in here, and see what we can do about getting you a real hat!”
“Why do I need a hat Eze?”
“Because, those beautiful girls are going to ask us to take them dancing tonight, and besides, that is one of the most important pieces of gear for the trip. You gotta protect the head!”
“How do you know they will ask us dancing? I thought we were eating lunch in thirty minutes?”
“Pooh, trust me!” and Eze walked inside.
Then I thought for a second. Was he serious about what he said? He couldn’t be. Wait, I’m sure that he was. I’m glad that I didn’t shoot him in the leg.
I followed Eze into the narrow store with tall ceilings and tin walls. Everything looked to be at least fifty years old except for the old man inside, he looked even older.
He was a thin old man, with a handlebar mustache and a hat that looked to be two sizes bigger than he was.
“Sammy, my Amigo here needs him a real hat, nothing fancy! As a matter of fact, do you have any seconds on hand?”
“Well, I’ll be! Eze, how have you been? It’s been what, two years?”
“Yeah, I don’t know. It’s been too long. How about that?”
“Yes sir, yes sir it has! I heard that you had left the country for awhile?” The old man said with a twinkle of life left in his eyes. “All that I have are a few black ones. Will that do?”
“Well Sammy, everybody has a black hat these days. I guess it doesn’t matter what the color is, it’s what you put it on that does!”
Eze looked at me, “Well, come on now, try ‘em on and find one that fits, so you can pay the man.”
“Uh, ok! I want one like his Mr. Sammy.”
The old man gave a chuckle, “Son, I make my best hats for this young-un and he can wear one out before the next moon. I have never understood it, but to get your hat to look like that you will have to go places that you don’t even know exist. That comes from survival, not from being kept in a box on a shelf waiting for Saturday night.”
“Amen, Brother!” Eze added, “You see, Sammy here cuts about two inches off the brim, and sews on a wide band for the ribbon. Then he hands it to me with a sad look in his eyes because each hat is like one of his children. I pay him for it, and throw it down on the ground, and stomp it with my boot. Then, I go in the back there to the sink and stick it under the faucet and soak it good. I shake out the excess water, stick it on my head, and mold it with my hands. I wear it dry and it fits perfectly every time.”
Sammy was nodding in sad agreement, “Yes, yes he does just that. I call it the Eze Crease, and I won’t copy it. So, you will just have to choose one and make your own style.”
I found one that fit, and asked how much?
He said “For you, a friend of Eze’s, I will only charge you $35, if you will just wear it out of here without doing anything to it.”
“But, this hat costs $150!”
“Shut up and pay the man Pooh! I swear, those girls are gonna be there waiting on us if we don’t go now. Thanks Sammy, we’ll be seeing you!”