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Turf

By B. B. Schaikes [Winner: 1st Place]

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I was devoted to the practice of going to Starbucks at 5 a.m. every Sunday morning and sitting over the New York Times for as long as three hours. Most customers saw me as homeless and treated me like shit. But Spinks, the manager, a freckly ginger, was a real mensch. He’d give me free black coffee, “lend” me the paper and let my dogs sit on the chairs.

Each week I’d exit promptly when this group of weatherbeaten guys in tight bright bike clothes arrived. It was Stbx/Hermosa Beach, down near the pier. These guys would ride the Strand down from Marina del Rey just to flex over a latte. Somehow they pushed the cheese right off my cracker. At first it was just their padded crotches. Then it was their ringleader, sporting orange Oakleys, chunky Rolex and a Wolverine sideburn which was, on him, a kind of sacrilege. This guy’s girlfriend would often call while he was sitting there, but he’d never take the call. One of the other bike men asked how long he’d make his girlfriend wait, before he called her back. Ringleader says he never calls her back. 

That was when I really started to have it in for him. 

I told you I’d leave Stbx when the bike men got there. But as you can see I’m unreliable. In fact, I’d linger longer, though their B.S. ate into my free time. They were old-skool MCPs. Male chauvinist pigs, as we called such types back in the day. Oglers, who pestered those they deemed “the hot ones.”

They tried to nudge me out. Glared at me, told me to move my shopping cart and dogs. I couldn’t accept that kind of treatment. I was here first. I was here before Stbx. Here when Howard Schultz was in grade school, for eff’s sake. And one day I started to get the upper hand. The ringleader went to the bathroom, leaving his sweaty towel on one of my chairs. I took custody of it. He tried to make something of it. I told him I liked the smell of his sweat, and planned to use that towel in ways that were classified.  

That day Spinks comped me a toasted bagel and some cream cheese.

A couple weeks later the ringleader managed to get some young girl into conversation.  She had solid armor: fishnets under black cutoffs, full-neck tat sleeve (in Hermosa Beach they call it a dickey) and pierced everything. Yet she was too polite to cut the a-hole off.

I like to do a service, so I piped up.

“Listen, sister: he’s taken!”

Ha! The bike men switched Starbucks after that.

But my reign was brief cuz Spinks got fired. Not for freebies, but for fixing beach volleyball games without the HB Rotary Club’s say-so.

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