I've never really cared much about what society says is legal. If it's profitable, I'm down. Don't get me wrong, I have rules and scruples. I'm just a completely dedicated capitalist. If people want it, I'll try to find it and sell it to them. I don't sell people. I don't kill people for money, I'm rarely violent unless someone else is and I don't steal from people that don't steal from me. I sell illegal things, all sorts of things. I'm not averse to selling people pharmaceuticals if they want to medicate themselves. I stay away from the stuff that makes people desperate and crazy. Crazy people are likely to become violent.
A little industrial espionage, pirated technology, moonshine, things like that. I've never felt like illegal meant anything except the government didn't like it, wanted you to pay them to own or sell it or had a monopoly on it. Intellectual property is a joke. How can you own an idea? That never bothered me.
These days, it's hard to stay off the radar. There are cameras everywhere and if you use your cell phone or send an e-mail, the tax man cometh. I was meeting my boy JaMarcus downtown where most of the cameras were broken. He had a truckload of flash memory for sale and I was definitely interested. He knew a guy that worked for a major manufacturer who knew how to make it and wanted to go into business. He had a no-compete clause in his contract and his former employer got the cops to shut him down. Since he couldn't sell it in stores, he was looking for a market. I knew the market.
I was a little early or he was a little late. I sat in my truck and listened to the new Foo Fighters album. I noticed a little yellow Mustang pull up behind me about a hundred yards. A woman got out and I saw her go around in back and open her trunk. She came back with a jack and I figured she had a flat. Being the gentleman I am, I got out and started walking back toward her car to see if she needed a hand.
A group of young men was walking down the sidewalk and they started making a few comments. I wasn't close enough to hear what they were saying but it was evident that she didn't like it and she went and got in her car. They gathered around it and one of them started beating on the hood. I figured they were just some young punks until one of them picked up a brick and broke her driver's window. He opened the door and tried to drag her out. She was putting up a pretty good fight, but it was escalating and I was close enough to hear them now.
"White girl going to bleed a lot if you don't stop fighting," the guy in the door said. "You know you want this, baby."
"Leave me alone," she screamed.
They noticed me standing there.
"What you looking at, white boy?" The one with the brick started walking toward me.
"I think I'm looking at a punk that's about to make a big mistake," I told him.
He stopped. "What you talking about, chump? I beat your punk ass. You better get on up out of here."
"I don't think the girl likes you," I told him. "I think you assholes should move on down the street.
"Bitch don't know what she likes. She like the big dick," he clutched his groin. He started toward me again and I eased my jacket open. He saw the .45 ACP in my holster and he stopped in his tracks.
"I ain't going to argue with that," he started backing away.
The one struggling with the girl wasn't paying attention so I pulled the .45 out, walked up and tapped him on the head. He collapsed and one of his buddies started feeling tough.
"You a pussy motherfucker. I don't think you use that piece," he said.
I used it and his shoe exploded. "Pick up your trash and move on," I told the rest of them. The .45 made a hell of a pop, and he was screaming like he was dying, but I doubted anyone would report it.
"You a crazy motherfucker. You shot Jamal foot. This motherfucker crazy."
They picked up their boys and beat feet, telling me what they were going to do when they came back all the while.
I pointed the gun at them again and they shut up. I walked up to the Mustang and she shut the door.
"I'm sorry, Miss. I won't hurt you. You want me to change that tire?"
She was crying and her shirt was torn. "Please," she said. "I'll pay you if you will. I shouldn't be here. I was dropping off my friend from work and my tire went flat. I was going to change it and then those bastards came along. Thanks for making them leave. I can't believe you shot that guy in the foot. Are you a policeman?"
I laughed. "No, you won't find many of Los Angeles' finest down here. You're right about you shouldn't be here. This is a bad neighborhood."
I walked over and put the gun in the trashcan in case popo showed up. I slid the jack under her car. I loosened the lug nuts and raised it up. She got out after a minute and opened the trunk again. I heard her moving around and she came up, rolling one of those little donut spares. I looked her over a little. She didn't look very old. She was a tiny little thing, not much over 5 feet but she manhandled that tire and she had put up quite a fight earlier.
"Thanks again for helping me," she said. "I'm going to pay you."
"No, you're not," I told her. "I have more money than you. Besides it wouldn't be right to take money for helping someone."
"How do you know you have more money than me?" she asked. "I have a job."
"Yeah, me too. What do you do?" I asked.
I got the tire off while we were talking and she rolled the spare in. "I work at Victoria's Secret at the mall."
"I've got eight hundred dollars in my pocket and maybe twice that in my wallet. How much you got?"
"Well, not that much. Aren't you afraid to carry around that much cash? No, I guess you aren't. You've got a gun."
"See, I can't let you pay me."
"I'm Thatcher Morgan," she told me.
"Hi, Thatcher Morgan; I like that name. I'm Riggins Sharp. I'd shake your hand but mine is all dirty."
"I'm sorry; I've got some Germ-x in the car."
"Wait till I get this in the trunk and I'll take it. This tire is ruined, Miss Morgan. You didn't get pulled over fast enough."
"Damn, just what I needed," she said.
I put it in and she leaned in looking for the hand stuff. I just stood there enjoying the view. She had a fantastic butt, encased in tight jeans. It was round and full and sort of apple shaped. She found the hand sanitizer and backed out. She caught me looking at her butt, but she just grinned.
She gave me a few squirts and I rubbed it around. She handed me a rag and I wiped them off.
"Miss Morgan, you shouldn't drive very far on that spare," I told her. "How far are you going?"
"25 miles," she told me.
"Well it should make it that far. You going to try to find a new tire tonight?"
"No, I don't think there's anything open."
"Well, you're wrong. There's a shop that's open late about three miles away. Which way are you going?"
"Santa Barbara," she said.
"That's more than 25 miles. How about I follow you over there to the tire shop, we get you a new tire and make sure you're ok?"
"I'd like that. Thanks, you're a really nice guy, Riggins."
"My folks raised me to help people if I could," I told her. "Drive me down to my truck and I'll follow you." I picked up my gun and got in.
The tire shop was open and they told her it would take an hour before they could get to her. We sat in the lobby for a few minutes and she noticed a Wendy's next door.
"Are you hungry," she asked.
"Starving, how about you?"
"I was planning to drive through somewhere on the way home. I haven't eaten since lunch. Will you let me buy you a burger?"
"I'd love for you to buy me a burger, Miss Morgan."
She giggled. "Stop calling me Miss Morgan. My name is Thatcher. You said you liked it."
"I do, but I didn't know we were friends. I only call my friends by their first names."
"Well, you saved me from maybe getting raped back there. You changed my tire and you're looking out for me like this. You seem like a pretty good friend to me. You're kind of old fashioned, aren't you?"
"I guess so. I was raised in the Deep South by a Pastor. He wanted me to learn to be polite and I guess it stuck."
We got our order and I slid into a booth. I was a little surprised when she scooted me over and sat by me. We were busy eating for a while and didn't talk much. When I finished my burger, I leaned back and ate fries. I looked her over and she was beautiful. She had a cute little face and the most amazing eyes I'd ever seen. They were violet, I swear, with the longest lashes I'd ever seen. The tear in her blouse gave me peaks at a little lacy blue bra under her shirt. She had dark blonde hair that she wore about halfway to her waist. She felt my eyes on her and she blushed a little.
"Too bad about your window," I told her. "At least it's not raining. If you don't mind me asking, how old are you, Thatcher? I don't mean to pry and you don't have to tell me."
"I know I look young," she laughed, "but I'm eighteen. I graduate from high school in two months. How old are you, Riggins?"
"I'm 24," I told her.
"Do you go to college? No, I don't guess you don't. You've got too much money for a college guy."
"Actually, I do," I told her. "I'm working on a PhD from Southern Cal. I don't go every day and I have lots of time to work."
"What kind of work do you do?"
"I'll be a psychologist when I'm through with school. Right now, I buy and sell things."
"What sorts of things?"
.... There is more of this story ...