IT Professional

How to become a Thug

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I was watching A-Team yesterday and of course you have the main characters, Hannibal the leader, Murdock the jokester, Face the pretty boy and B.A. Barucus the muscle of the group also known as Mr. T. The A-Team has a strong hold on my generation for some reason, probably because it was so innocent but at the same time bullets and cars and explosions were everywhere. 80’s excess at its superficial finest. I was just watching it passively trying to understand the plot line, reading the stereotypes (B.A. seemingly never sat down, Murdock always joking, Face with a new beauty every episode, et al) and just taking time out.

Of course with this show, there was always the foil, the bad guy who tried to pull off some high crime, and somehow the A-team gets involved to set matters straight. First off, you should know that I think too much, way too much about a TV show that has little cultural relevancy today. That said, I was focusing on the heavies in the show. There was the big boss with his suit looking for some sunken Spanish treasure from the 1700’s apparently from the Philippines off the Cali coast. His heavies were headed by the lieutenant who was a fisherman complete with wharf overcoat, boots, facial hair and the whole nine. His charges were the spectacular in their subservience. This is how I came to the title of this post.

How did they get that way? I have a few children and I am always on the lookout for what I don’t want them to be. The thing about these thugs, is that they did everything the boss said, and yet ALWAYS failed. They ran whenever a few shots were fired (of course after a weak-willed resistance), didn’t say very much and had no valuable qualities other than to put themselves in danger for a man who didn’t give a damn about their well-being. Fascinating huh!?

So I’m just thinking, who would these guys be in high school, or even younger, and how did they get on the hired-thug career path. Apparently moonlighting as fisherman. They must have grown up in a small, conservative coastal town, and became fisherman because that’s what their father apparently did. The likely dropped out of high school to take over the business, because they obviously were clueless about effective planning and the art of war – they were after all thugs. They had no fashion sense, looking like they just threw on whatever was laying on the floor of their shared home before they went out for a day of thuggery.

I would guess that they earned a nice sum of cash because if they didn’t there is no way they put themselves in the line of fire like they do against the A-Team. They seem to do just enough to make it look like they might actually hit someone with some bullets, or a right hook, but ultimately they can be put out of commission with one punch or if thrown to the ground. Seeing as how they always show up in two’s and never ask questions they must have deep pains inside, and are searching to belong. Yes these men were abused as children and are looking for love, like so many of us.

They are not likely brothers, because though they are constantly with each other, there is no shared laugh and they don’t coordinate very well with each other. They dont even argue. They may not even be friends, though I suspect they share a love of the bottle. Their kinship is a silent one whereas both kinda have an idea of what the other has gone through in order to choose this line of work. I suspect they were abused as children, but I would rather think they grew up in a loveless household with too many rules and not enough hugs. They followed the rules because if they didn’t it usually meant a rap across the knuckles or a demeaning slap across the head. This is their medicine, structure without any strings attached…do your job and at the end of the day wash it down at the local watering hole.

I would guess as children they were the middle child, not the favorite of mom, and dad was around just enough to provide a hearty fish soup and warm clothes for the hard winters. They probably came of age in Oregon or Washington and came to California looking for a change of pace. As youths they didn’t say much when playing with other children and likely were scorned or loners. Frequently their frustrations were released in the form of petty crimes, and maybe a 20 stolen from mama’s purse as they became preteens. Around this time, dad got sick and they had to take over the poor family fishing business. They always dreamed things must be better than this in southern California where the fish came in by the boatloads and a man could make his fortune there. After all, they knew about fishing, and they had the muscle and had no problems about doing what had to be done. After mom and dad died, they sold everything, packed their few belongings in the Dodge and drove south along the coast…

Here they got jobs as fisherman with a local…um, fisherman. They could be on the boat most days and ply the trade they most definitely knew. The boss would have them do odd jobs, and even set them up in a place that was three times the size of the house they grew up in. There were likely some other strong, silent types rooming with them. They all shared an affinity for alcohol and prostitutes and had not much use for church or the arts. Every once in a while they might catch a ballgame, or a game of pool, but theirs is a life of fishing which they could do well and enjoy.

At some point, the odd jobs for the boss start to take more and more time away from fishing. Things like taking packages after sundown to factories, and driving trucks with unknown goods to certain locations. The money got better and better, and at first they wondered what it was they were doing that was so lucrative for the boss that he could pay them 3oo dollars and more for one day’s work. The side jobs started to become the main job, and fishing started to seem like a front operation.

At some point they meet the big boss who impresses them with his gold watch, paneled office and tailored suit. He gives them a friendly pat on the shoulder and asks them if they would like a drink. He seems friendly enough, and tells them some details about a job he wants them to do. Of course they shouldn’t let the fishing slide and it become clear to them that it is in fact a front. Any reservations they may have had about the job are quelled with an envelope stuffed with bills…they don’t even open the envelope. After a few hours of hanging out with the big boss they are sent off with instructions to meet some other guys at a certain place tomorrow morning at 11 sharp. After leaving the meeting with the boss, they head off and spend a little cash on hookers and drink, and have a good ol’ time.

At 11, they meet at an old scrap yard next to a warehouse a few miles down from the fishery where they work. There they find a few other gruff-looking types who mirror their appearance and there is an instantaneous feeling of kinship. Everyone takes their assignment and goes off to do his business without saying much more than ‘hey there’ and superficial talk about the weather. On this job the lieutenant is with them and tells them in vague terms what they need to do…he is vague on purpose they suspect, but they understand exactly what it is he wants from them. Of course the envelope was only a down payment for the job, and once it’s complete they’ll get another envelope he tells them. This job however is a little different from the other ones. One of the guys gets a busted lip, and the scene is a little hectic. The pistols they keep with them on these kinds of jobs come in handy. Of course, like always they are successful and get back to their home with a few bruises from some close calls, and a feeling of awkwardness at having broken several laws. They don’t know quite what to think, but they’re too tired to do too much thinking, and a hearty dinner and firm beds await.

Back at the home, the lieutenant calls each man out back for what seems like a debriefing as some of the other guys who live there start to make it back. They notice that one ruddy looking fellow doesn’t appear. A rumor starts that he got caught by the cops but should be out within 24 hours or so. The lieutenant talks individually with every one of the 6 men who live in the house and they dont discuss among themselves what he says to them. It’s clear that they should go to work at the construction site, the warehouse, the scrap yard and the docks and lay low until told otherwise. Each man has a plump envelope from the lieutenant that he keeps close to him right next to his knife. Some of the other guys go out to the local watering hole, and some of them cook dinner, and others go to bed. Tomorrow it’s life back to normal.

It goes like that for a while, fishing, odd jobs some a little dangerous than others, months turn to years and they wonder every once in while what happened to the young, innocent guys who rode down in the truck all those years ago. Eventually, they run into a crack team of misfits who thoroughly thwart their plans. They noticed long ago that the big boss never invited them back to his place after that first initial meeting, but sometimes meets them where the assignments are given out, and the envelopes are distributed. As they get older, new guys come into the house, others don’t show up anymore and they come to realize that they can’t do this forever. Bones ache, headaches and trick knees have robbed them of their youthful vitality. One day one of them decides he’s had enough and with the money he’s saved, he buys a nice house boat for his retirement as a fisherman. He tells his buddy he came down here with that he’s going back up to the Pacific northwest soon to buy a decent house and fish in his retirement. They go out for a last time for hookers and drinks and return back to the place they’ve called (but never really felt like) home for so many years, and one of them begins to pack alone in his room.


Written by lionoah

May 1, 2011 at 15:40

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