Part 2 – By Ron Pestone
When I sat down with Alex I told him that I needed two things. First watch the job to make sure I was getting a decent day out of each of the men. Second, take every piece of red brass that came out of the tunnels, get it loaded on one of my trucks and deliver it to my house. Specifically drop all the brass next to my bedroom window.
He said he understood. Then I told him to work the job but not to take any unnecessary chances as Nicky would probably try to set him up so he got hurt because if he got hurt Nicky’s problems would be over. Alex looked at me and said, “Don’t worry about me or Nicky. “Don’t worry Bud I’ll take care of Nicky.”
The next day I took Alex to the job and watched as Alex and Nicky, like two boxers in the early rounds, started feeling each other out. In the next few months Nicky made a diligent effort to get me to fire Alex and failing that he tried to set him up for an accident in the tunnels. Alex was too smart for that. When a large piece of 10” schedule 80 came crashing down Alex was not where Nicky though he would be. After the near accident Alex and Nicky had a little meeting. I could never get the story of what transpired from Alex but from that day an uneasy truce went into effect between them and there were no more accidents.
In the meantime a small mountain of red brass was building next to my bedroom window. Alex being Alex did not walk around and supervise the job he pitched in and worked with the crew. In time the crew came to like and respect him because unlike them Nicky could not push him around. They also loved Alex’s command of the English language. Sitting with the guys at lunch he continually tied Nicky into knots until Nicky finally got the message and instead of trying to trade barbs with Alex he began to tread lightly around him.
As the job was coming to an end and the pile of red brass by my bedroom window took the shape of a small mountain I started watching the scrap market for brass. When brass was really high I sent Alex and two of my toughest guys to take a giant load of brass to a Brooklyn scrap dealer I knew. It was to be a cash deal, no checks, just cash.
The problem with selling to the big scrap dealers in the city is that they are in tough neighborhoods. You can get in but getting out is another thing. In those neighborhoods guys look for trucks bogged down with weight coming in and light coming out. They know that whatever was in the truck going in is cash in the cab going out. The weak are lucky to come out alive without the money. But it was Alex and he had two tough guys with him.
They left early in the morning and I was working in the office when Alex got back around 7:00PM.
When he walked in I asked, “How did it go?”
He gave that brief Alex smile and said, “Little tough, but no problem”
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