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Below the Threshold of the Law
Chapter 8: Working on Big Sites, Bookmarks 1-4, Part Three: Being A Man In A City That Hates You

Copper Thief

Copper is cause for conflicts on construction sites. It turns up missing, gets stolen all the time. It’s something you take to the scrap yard and make extra money with. Copper is a whole underground economy. It is graded number #1 through #3. Number one is bright, nothing on it. #2 gas some insulation to it. Number 3 is heavily mixed up with other materials. Brass and aluminum pay to, but not like copper. It generates a whole underground economy from contractors to drug addicts. Anybody can get their hands on it. Steel scarps too, not a lot of money but it scraps. Section eight renters take it with them when they leave. You rent to welfare people then they rip the walls out, tear the guts out of the furnace and the heat pimp, and you’ve got to refit and rewire the entire place in between each renter.

I did a house improvement over on Landvalle. Old black guy owned a house and we was renovating it for him. He had this old black guy he paid to stay in there overnight. The old guy would bring his sleeping bag, his little TV. He would lock the door, take his bottle in there and watch the ball game. He was a neighborhood guy. The guy couldn’t do the one night. The owner offered to us to spend the night for some cash and we aid, “Hell no!” and the next day when we came in the walls were all torn out we had laid in wall. The one night he couldn’t do it, boom, they were in there.

There was another time on South Rose Street, working for Randy. They had a house there and she—his big-mothed dyke sister—ran some drug dealers off the front. Sure enough the next day they had ripped the AC unit out, tore out the walls, broke the water pipes. You’re going to tell them they can’t sell in front the house and what do you think is going to happen. I knew it would happen.

A friend of mine, Jimmy from Southwest Baltimore called me. Desoto Road, headed out to Catonsville, one of the factories burned down and we snuck out there, cut the lock out at night and we drove a “stake body truck” [wood fencing around the truck bed] right in. We pulled into this warehouse that burned down and we filled the whole back up with copper and aluminum. The next day we took it to United Iron and Metal, in Southwest Baltimore above the train tracks and got thirty-two hundred, for mostly copper. That tells you what kind of money you can make at that. Sometimes you gotta dip below the threshold of the law to make ends meet, part of growing up in Baltimore. Some people just don’t realize that the whole system is fixed and that you’ve got to deal with it in your own way.

Mays Chapel

I’m doing carpentry, working for a subcontractor named Barnet and I was working for Winchester Drywall on a 1099 form, had my own workman’s comp and liability insurance at this young age. I was payin’ taxes quarterly, working by the square foot, as opposed to being paid by the hour working for a company. The faster I got done the more I got paid.

I was in a unit, a eight-story condominium. I was on one of the lower floors. I was framing a ceiling on my stilts. This was mid-to-late-nineties. It was a good two hundred dollars then, about two-eighty now for the stilts. I’m walking on the stilts. This company was a sheet metal company with all of these windus from Southwest Baltimore. There has already been problems with these idiots getting druk and high and fighting and steeling on the job.

This guy, had a big bowling ball head, short hair, full of tattoos, a Pig Town guy, a windu. Covered in tattoos, he comes in and leaves these pipes there and I finish what I’m doing and go into my next apartment and work. He was obviously staging for the theft. This clown comes in and says “Where’s my copper at? The copper I laid in there while you were working, I know you took it?”

I was still on my stilts. My head’s up six-inches below the ceiling. These stilts are adjustable, I was probably about two feet high at the time. They go from eighteen-inches to four foot.

He says, “Where’s my copper—I know you took it.”

I seen where we were going and I undid the straps on my stilts and hopped off them real quick before he knocked me down.

He started approaching me with his cocky, bee-boop whigger walk.

I stepped forward as he approached and put his finger in my face.

My left was forward—knew where this was going, but I camouflaged it in there so it was not as obvious.

[This is usually done with a talking hand or attentive head motion or simply sliding a foot forward without turning the hip in in an obvious gait pattern.]

I already had it on my mind that I was going to hit the guy.

He, instead of taking a stance, he stepped up square with a finger in my face and I glided back a little bit—created some space [by withdrawing the lead left foot] and as I stepped down that’s when I hit him. [a karate switch step] and I launched my right hand, right in his chin. I was thirty pounds heavier than this guy—and he went right down.

He was out—I starched him. I went and got his foreman and he was getting up within forty-five-seconds [which sends the ringside doctors and EMTs at a fight into a panic. 20-plus-seconds being the doorstep of death in boxing,] He was out. I told the foreman what was happening and this guy wanted to know what he was doing with the plumber’s copper and threw the guy off the job.


Hs name is Curtis, a white guy, a little hillbilly guy. His wife was a nurse at a hospital. He was missing the three bottom fingers of is right hand. I wasn’t friends with him, but he was a really cool guy. Kept to himself, late thirties, two years older than I am now, big into hunting. Behind the job was huge amount of woods. He went and found the owner of the woods and got permission to set a deer stand up in there and hunt. Because he was missing these fingers he had a special hunting license for his crossbow. He had this legally sketched out. He was not doing anything wrong. This was in the autumn during bow season. I remember the leaves were down. This job had a lot of stealing going on. He was a framer and drywall man—carpentry work. He was spotted going in and out with his hunting gear by these whiggers from Southwest Baltimore.

They had some shit that was stolen. The whiggers thought he took some tools from them, because he had his hunting bag, about six in the morning, when he would come out the woods and come to the job at 7 a.m.

I was the last one on the job that day. When I came down from the site I found him in the parking lot with his face beat in, his face was gone, unconscious. He did not look human. If not for the body you wouldn’t guess you were looking at a human face. It was about nightfall about 4:30 most everybody else was out of there at 3:30. I stayed until it got to dark to see. This was before cell phones. I had a blanket behind the seat in my truck, so I covered him up and drove Grau’s Supermarket on Padonia Road—we had built that shopping center—and called 911 and told them where I would be and I went back to sit with him and the police and ambulance came right quick. I told them how I found him and they took him away.

I found out the whiggers were arrested. I don’t know if they got him well enough to talk and found out or found out otherwise, that these five guys had beat him with claw hammers. About a month later I gotta thankyou note from his family in the mail. They said he had been dead if I hadn’t found him there and I was the last one out. If he had a sat there all night ling he would have died. I didn’t hear nothing else from them for years and not long ago, 4-5 years ago I worked with a guy who knew him and was good friends with him and found out the story as I told it.

He told me that Curtis wound up getting a huge settlement from workman’s comp. He had massive amounts of facial reconstruction, lose use of ne eye—he and his wife moved out to Southern Pennsylvania. He went through living hell because they had thought he stole something he hadn’t; he had brain damage, all kinds of problems. This was the most disgusting thing I’d ever seen like they erased his fucking face. It was far worse than hitting that nigger in the head and seeing the inside of it. I can’t even describe it. Other than from the neck down I can’t even describe it. I suppose he’s lucky it was his face and not his skull. I can’t believe he lived.

Union Trouble

This was down Arundel Mills, was Ninety-Nine to Two-Thousand, somewhere around there. There was a lot of trouble between the union and non-union contractors. The union were doing the base buildout and the non-union was doing the tenant fit-outs. It was a massive job. Guys from West Virginia camped out in their trucks, the Mexicans, the Salvadorians, the Hamden boys, hillbillies, rednecks, Lumbee Indians—the Lumbees bring their women to the site and make them do all the shit work, like sweeping—dindus, windus every group that works construction down there. The union was protesting the none-union workers including throwing five gallon buckets of piss on cars when non-union guys came to work.

Now, if you went to break or lunch and left your tools there they would either be broken up or stolen. There was an incredible amount of theft, lots of guys getting hurt from beatings. There were some many fights and attacks that guys started carrying guns on the job. It got so bad that eventually the Anne Arundel County police sent officers to patrol the job.

What happened to me, is I had to go from one job to another job in that place, needed to get a rolling scaffold and on the way back these four big union goons approached me with hammers. They said, “Where you going with our scaffold, boy?”

My company name was written all over this scaffold, so I pushed it in front of me, between me and these guys. It was four of them with hammers. They started to flank around the scaffold to my two sides, so I backed up and said, “My mistake. You can have the scaffod,” and they said, “Yeah, we’re going to take it.”

I kept walking backwards, keeping my eye on them and they disengaged and I got-the-hell out of there. I wasn’t going to fight four big guys with hammers for something that wasn’t mine.

Saving your hide is one thing. But you can’t let stuff like that lie or it will eat at you. Something needed to be done. So what I did, the mouthy guy, the leader I followed him around from a distance and saw where his truck was. Later I went out with a piece of wood and scooped a bunch of shit out of the spot-a-pottie and It’s a foot worth of shit. I had that shit piled up about yay thick [makes a six-inch space between his hands] on the wood. I packed that shit on his door handles. I took a rag and a can of spray glue, soaked the rag with glue and pushed it up in the tailpipe.

When it was time to leave the job, I sat back in my truck from afar and watched this asshole come out and went to put a hand on the door—it had been nice if he had grabbed it, but he seen it and jumped back. I put it on rather thick, mounded on there. So he jumped back. I sat back and watched. He started screaming and cussing and kicking around. He went into the job site—took a while—and he come out with a bucket with some water and rags and started cleaning the shit off his door handle—both handles. He gets some points for being thorough. But he was pissed; he was stomping the ground and screaming when he seen the other side. I watched—because it was a long line to get out and I followed behind.

I was 3-4 cars behind and that rag in the tail pipe made his truck conk out and he got out and started screaming. He waved over one of his buddies and used their truck to push his truck off to the side and he got a ride home.

Served cold—my little bit of revenge.

My father always said, “Don’t get mad, get even. I’d a been killed, four of them, my size or heavier, with framing hammers. I’d a looked like Curtis with is face beat in.

Bookmarks 5-10 will include

The Bar Fool

Zorbas Pizza

The CIA Building

MMA Idiots

College Wrestlers

Being a Bad Man in a Worse World

Fighting Smart: Boxing, Agonistics & Survival

The Mind of Mescaline Franklin

The Awakening of a Paleface Ethnocist

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