“The Ballad Of Dirty Mike, Steve And Tom-Tom” Tanka 497


Never knew why Steve

was there – Dirty Mike ‘The Boss’

Mizz Iona’s show!

 

She kept ‘The Cards’* and held court

Tom-Tom the push-broom and cart!

 

*(An unusual – on its face but nowhere else – arrangement, Mizz Iona owned and ran a much-relocated storefront biddness in and about Snaffurd (Sanford, Florida, USA) and while legit always on its face, the whole shebang had shade all over its countenance.  Dirty Mike, homeless and a practicing drunk, was reputed to have a Master’s Degree – in something – and left a good job in the city {but, which?] as a newspaper editor/reporter and sometimes teacher {but whom?}, the unmentioned Michael, slated to die of a cancerous throat in a few years, fed the crew with gleaned bread and such from his gig as a Sanford homeless and helpless feed-all one day a week and he was second-in-command – had the key to the place – to Iona, who held the EBT debit cards for a crew of homeless that included big, silent and somehow meanly sinister Steve, reputed to be the push-man in another hapless bum’s drowning – in knee-deep water at the city’s downtown marina boat basin during one drunken eve.  Iona would dole out five bucks a day five days a week to the crew, which also included Tom-Tom {and possibly others of whom i was unaware} so they could have access to smokes and drinks and drugs daily from the approximately $200-to-$225 per month dole.  In a four-week month Iona would clear a C-Note or more, and in a five-week month – you do the math – and multiply that by at least three or four or five, and at a high-70s age other benefits and a business income as well.  And she’d gather what she needed of her “crew” for yardwork and other jobs for which she liberally dipped into the overages weekly and monthly, and allowed the boys to go with her to at least one if not up to three weekly foodbank handouts, of which she’d keep her “first picks” and for the really withouts of her bunch all the frozen packages as well.  Oh, no, not a scrooge for sure: she was liberal with the booze and employed one technician homeless at outrageous wages to do much of her highly specialized offerings to a loyal and well-steered clientele and she allowed him to doss in the back room of her modest shop – wherever it was in at least three local locations I know about.  A fascinating old broad, she claimed Lake County heritage and was – this was in the 2000’s – intimate knowledge of The Ma Barker Gang and its famous shootout with the FBI in the 1930s or so.  Sometimes she’d forget some of her audience could “do the maths” but what I found truly astounding was her insistence there was no such international state as Luxembourg, because when she was married to a US Army Intelligence Corps senior enlistedman, she travelled throughout central and northern Europe and nowhere, nohow was there anything between France, Germany and Belgium.  So I folded my world geography textbook and quietly listened to her ask me what was a seven-letter word for something or other and why-in-hole do I not do crossword puzzles when clearly I have a talent for it.  No such thing as talent, I’d reply: it is a fairly-won skill which is the culmination of ambition, effort and enjoyment.  Staring at someone else’s way to make you less than they is neither my idea of fun nor prophet. But, I digress. Tom-Tom, to complete the biographical sketch, did a lot of Iona’s yardwork and helped her move the office and her abode’s many heavy and cumbersome items – including a vast array of oil paintings of nice proportions and execution when her various schemes fell through.  The last I knew one drunk-of-a-daughter, and the other a thief-of-a-drunk had latched onto momma’s last teats and guilted the guilter no end with hootching her steals and siccing a friendboy further to steal from her own some-say stolen goods gains.  Comes around, donchaknow?)

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