Captain’s Log 5,834
We needed to get something interesting for an art project at the museum. Old truck hoods. We put up the radar and waited for someone to come forth. Last week, I got a call that someone had located exactly what we were looking for.
The only catch was that they were located in the worst neighborhood in the city. It’s full of gangs and young men trying to be tough guys. It’s not the place you would go with a pocket full of cash. And believe me, everything in this neighborhood is a cash transaction. I also didn’t trust the person in charge of making this all happen for us. I have known this guy for a long time, and he is a gangster wannabee. He switches from gangster to gentleman in a heartbeat, so I decided to go along as an added barrier in case something went wrong. I didn’t want to catch him on a bad day. Please don’t ask how I know this guy. Let’s just say he’s in the confederacy that I have written about here over the years.
So off we went in our truck. As the neighborhood got seedier and seedier, I was beginning to think we just needed to turn around. Forget the art project. To hell with creativity! We drove by many scenes like this. Tough guys and pit bulls hanging outside of liquor stores. Oh dear.
You had better know where you are going in a place like this. Not a good idea to stop and ask for directions.
We pulled up and our contact was there with keys to an enormous gate. We went into the courtyard to get our hoods. They were neatly stacked and waiting for us. So far, so good.
We loaded the hoods into the truck and it was time to pay. We waded through a sea of crumpled up Bud Light cans and other assorted metal debris to a “bar” near the end of the property. I wasn’t too concerned because I had a tetanus shot a few years ago after a spider bit me in the ankle. I figured a good metal scrape or two wouldn’t kill me. Metal knife blade would be a completely different matter. Metal bullet……not so good either.
I had paperwork I wanted the guy to sign, and as he puzzled over the wording, I started to look around to get a better appreciation of exactly where I was. It’s not every day you drive into a war zone to pick up the hood of a 1953 Ford truck. And wade through beer cans. And hope the pit bull in the next yard cannot get over the fence.
As I was enjoying the interesting assortment of graffiti, broken bottles, and bars on the windows, I became entranced with what appeared to be an animal leg hanging from a piece of rawhide from the ceiling of the “patio” where we were sitting. Indeed. A single leg of something furry. Just hanging there. There wasn’t even a breeze to swing it around. At first glance, I thought it was a wind chime. But then I realized gangsters don’t usually have wind chimes. At least not the gangsters I know.
I leaned over to my staff guy who had come along and whispered (very quietly in an attempt to mask my horror) “What the fuck is that???” He is up on things. He is a millenial. He knew immediately what it was and whispered back, “Goat hoof.”
I found that surprising. I also found that disturbing. I decided to keep up the conversation (since our gangster confederate was still reading the two sentences on the receipt thing).
“Why? Why is there a goat leg hanging from the ceiling?” (in a whispered shriek while smiling through my terror)
“Voodoo.” (totally nonchalant)
“Voo what?” (gobsmacked)
“Doo. Voodoo.” (acting cool as if he sees this shit every day)
I guess they use goat legs because the hooves are cloven. That’s only a guess. I’m not really up on this stuff.
Gangster wannabee confederate had signed the papers and was now ready for the money. We counted it out (in small bills per request – because that’s the way gangsters do business). We had to count it again. Then he counted it. Several times. Every time he counted it, he came up $20 short. So we counted it again. Right the first time, second time, third time, etc. It finally matched.
Without another glance at the dangling goat leg, I sprinted to the truck. Through the broken bottles, scattered cans, and other debris. I looked like a football player in training as I did the old bob-and-weave routine. I was in an exceptional hurry to get out of there.
We drove out of the gate and tried to find the freeway. Not so good. Hopelessly unskilled at way-finding at that moment. We drove deeper and deeper into the neighborhood until we found ourselves completely turned around and lost. I was so grateful it was 11:00 in the morning. We found a street with a yellow line (always a sign that you are on a major street that will take you SOMEWHERE). We followed it to another big street with a name we knew. And eventually, we found the freeway.
And then we laughed. And laughed. And were so grateful that nobody put a voodoo curse on us or turned the dogs on us. There are days when you really need to be grateful for such things, because shit happens.