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The Excuse List
Working With the Crabbing Carpenter

He was a real, skinny, wiry guy with a mustache, real intense eyes and a pony tail, a Vietnam vet, a real hard worker. He was a real good guy, slightly crazy. He would put in 8-12 hours a day. During Crab Season he would go out at two in the morning, crab until six, then he’d come to work—made a lot of money running crabs that way. We were doing a shopping center up on Ring Factory Road in Belair. He would bring his gun into work and we’d go out back and shoot behind the job site. He’d bring a nine millimeter and a forty-five, a Smith and Wesson, I think.

He carried a gun everywhere. He did not have a permit and carried it on his person, was a convicted felon. He went everywhere with a gun. He sold cocaine in Dundalk, in other places. All through his travels he would drink beer. The type of guy he was, the roach coach comes up to the job to sell food, and a guy bought a hot dog with a bunch of shit on it and dropped it in the dirt and he picked it up and ate it and said you don’t never waste food.

He showed me the excuse paper for slow payers. It was a white piece of typing paper with a gunch of excuses on it. There was 20 or 25 and when somebody didn’t have money that they owed for their drugs, he would hand them the paper and have them pick out what their excuse was and he told them, “Okay, ‘ll ley you go this time, you better have the money the next time or it ain’t gonna matter.”

Somebody owed him money in Dundalk and he had a hoody on, slipped a short baseball bat under his sleeve, had the arm swinging so you couldn’t see the bat, crept up behind him and beat the shit out of him with that bat.

He was a good guy—other than all that shit. He knew my dad who also fought in Nam. Worked with my dad years ago. He showed up at work on time and did everything you asked on the job, can’t ask much more than that. I think he seen a lot of action in Nam, but he didn’t talk about it.

He retired a couple years ago, just going out crabbing. I’d like to think he stopped selling drugs. He’s got to be in his late 60s by now, out there crabbing. He had a shitload of kids, like he was trying to start his own race, all kind of kids running all over the place.

As far as I’m concerned he was a real good guy. Guys like him—hillbilly guys—you need help, they come over and help you, nothing asked.

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