Pimp. By Robert Beck aka Iceberg Slim. Adnotated without permission. Chapter 17 -- Trying a new game.
I had three choices. I could cop a piece of stuff on consignment from a contact I had made in the joint. I could peddle it retail and get nine or ten grand in weeks. I could take a dog, a broken-down whore with trillions of mileage on her. Maybe I could keep my foot in her ass and grind up a bankroll.i
I decided to take the third out. Do a slick fast hustle. I met a pimp named Red Eye in a junkie joint. He had just finished a state bit the week before. He was whorelessii like me and itching to pimp again. We were crying on each other's shoulder at the bar.
He said, "Ice, ain't it a bitch? No matter how much pimp a stud is, these dizzy bitchesiii demand he's got a front.iv Now we ain't hustlers, but I got an idea. Ice, you're a helluva actor and you can rap good as a con man. I know a stud who's hip to every smack peddler and fence on the West Side. I got a rod and a real copper's shield. All we need is a shortv and a third stud to drive.vi Neither one of us is well known over there.vii Besides, there's a flock of youngsters dealing now who were squares when we left the track.viii I'm a roller type stud. With the weight you put on in the jointix you'd make a perfect copper. Ice, if we only knock over three of 'em, we split maybe ten to fifteen G's between us. Our finger man is a junkie punk. We give him and the driver peanuts. Ice, those forty-seven Hogs are a pimp's dream. I gotta have one. Whatta you say? Are you in?"
I said, "Red Eye, I'll go for it. I sure as hell ain't going to put a mop in my hand out here.x I don't have wheelsxi, but I've got a little scratch. I'll spring to rent a short. You know someone with one? How about a driver?"
He said, "Ice, lay a double saw on me to cop a short. I know a stud for the driver.xii Meet me right here in this joint tomorrow night at nine. We can take off our first mark."
I said, "Don't crack my name to that driver. Call me Tom, Frank, anything."xiii
I didn't get two-hours sleep that night. It worried me to be part of a hustle that required a rod.xiv
I thought, "Maybe I'd better back out. I could maybe find a young hash-slingerxv in a greasy spoon. I could turn her out in a hurry. She'd be a long shot for stardom. At least she'd make enough scratch for chump expenses. You can't start pimping with a turnout.xvi It never works out. A pimp with no whore and no bankroll is a sucker to try the turnout on a mulishxvii square broad.xviii No, I guess the Red Eye deal is all I got."xix
Red Eye got to the joint at ten-thirty. The driver was a huge stud with a rapper like a girl's. I noticed his big meat-hooks shaking on the steering wheel on our way to the West Side. Red Eye ran down our first mark. His light-maroon eyes were whirling. He had a skull full of H.
He said, "Paul, our first mark is a bird's nestxx on the ground.xxi It's a broad. The finger showed her to me last night. She and her old man got the best smack on the West Side. It's so good studs from all over town are rushing to cop every night. He and the broad deal out of a bar three blocks from their pad. They deal mostly in eights and sixteenths. On a weekend night like this one they take off maybe five G's. The stud is got a rep as a fast-rod joker. He ain't got no direct syndicate connections as far as I know.xxii We ain't got to worry about him tonight. He's in New York copping a supply.xxiii The broad will leave the bar around midnight loaded with scratch. She'll have a few packs of smack on her too for the evidence to shake her. Her real name is Mavis Sims. She's gonna go to her short parked behind the bar. She ain't afraid of being heisted. Everybody is scared shitless of her old man. She's got a small rod strapped to her thigh. She ain't going to pull it on the police though. That's us, strange rollers from downtown. We gotta move fast on her when she bits that lot behind the bar. She's a slick bitch. We gotta be real rollers. We can't wake her up we're fakes. She's a strongxxiv bitch, I'd have to blow a hole in her if she reached for her rod.xxv There will be a pack of hard studs in the bar. They would love to croak us on that lot to please her old man. We gotta move her fast outta the neighborhood to play her outta the scratch. We gotta be careful the rollers don't join our party.xxvi Her old man is doing a lot of greasing in the district. Perry is gonna park our short in the street beside the lot. We arrest the broad and you play on her while Perry drives. I ain't going to rap.xxvii Ice, after we cop her it's up to you for the shake. You got to convince her."
Perry was really nervous. He pulled into the curb next to the bar lot. His skull was jiggling on his bull neck like he had Parkinson shakes. I was silent.
Red Eye's rundown had me wondering how it shaped up as a bird's nest to him.xxviii It looked like maybe a bird's nest for Dillinger.xxix If the mark hadn't been a broad I'd have split and got on an El train.xxx
I wondered if she'd seen me before I went to the joint. What if she made me right away as Iceberg and plugged me in the skull.xxxi Her old man might have outfit friends. If he did we'd be found in an alley with our balls rammed down our throats. We were standing in the shadows ten feet from the broad's short.
I said, "Red, I better take the rod. When we step out on her, shine the flashlight right in her eyes."
She was walking fast when she came into the lot. Her light blue chiffon dress was billowing in the April breeze. She was walking wide-legged like a whore after a long night in a two-dollar house.xxxii
My legs were trembling like a stud dog's hung upxxxiii in a bitch. I looked down at the badge pinned to the wallet in my palm. It glittered like molten silver in the moonlight. The thirty-two pistol in my right hand weighed a sweaty ton.
She was twirling a key ring. In the utter silence the clinking sounded like the U.S. Marshal's handcuffs. She had her hands on the door handle. I stepped out of the shadows. Red Eye was behind me. I wondered if she could hear my ticker hammering. Red Eye put the light in her face. Her yellow forehead wrinkled in surprise. Her sexy jib flapped open. I grabbed her wrist and tried to crush it.
I roared, "Police! What's your name and why are you sneaking around back here?"xxxiv
She stammered, "Gloria Jones, and I was coming to my car. I always park it here. Now get out of the way. I'm going home. The captain of this district is a personal friend of my husband's."xxxv
Red Eye had turned off the flashlight and moved behind her. She was looking down at the badge. She was trying to yank her wrist free.
I said in a low heavy voice, "You lying dope-peddling bitch. Your real moniker is Mavis Sims. We're from downtown. Your old man's no pal of ours. We're gonna bust you, bitch. I'll lay odds we've caught you dirty. Come on bitch, before we get rough. Anything I hate it's a stinking smack dealer."xxxvi
We hurled her into the back seat of our short. Red got in beside her. I was up front with Perry. I turned facing the rear seat. There was silence as Perry drove out of the district toward central headquarters. Missxxxvii Sims was squirming in the seat. Her right hand was out of sight behind her. She was getting very jerky. I remembered that rod she was carrying. I started the shake.
I said, "Al, this suspect is acting peculiarly. Perhaps you'd better pull over. She might have concealed some evidence behind the seat."
He pulled over. Red moved toward her. She slid to the window on the other side.
She said, "Officers, I'm clean. It's worth fifty apiece to cut me loose.xxxviii If you bust me, I'll be out in an hour. Take me back to the bar. I can get the hundred and fifty from the bar owner."
I said, "No dice, sister. We got specific orders to bring you in. Now don't make him slap a broad around. He's gonna frisk you. He don't have to wait for a matron to do it downtown. It's proper if he thinks you're armed and we're in danger."
He patted the inside of her thighs. It was there, a twenty-two automatic jammed under the top of her stocking. He took it out and shoved it in his pocket, searched her bosom, purse, shoes, and hair. She was sure clean except for the rod.
I felt like a real chump. All this trouble for nothing. He was scratching his chin. The junkie punk had put a bum finger on the broad.
I was at the point of shoving her out. Then it struck me. Where did my street whores hide their scratch? In the cat!xxxix In the cat, where else? The clincher was this broad's wide-legged walk. I had noticed it on the lot. She was leaning forward staring at Perry's face.
I said, "Joe, it's gotta be up her cat. Bitch, stretch out and put your legs across his lap."
She said, "The hell I will. You phony niggers ain't rollers. That big one at the wheel used to bounce at Mario's."xl
She was wise. The double saw I gave Red Eye had tapped me out. We had to know if she had treasure up her cat.xli
I wondered how he'd handle it. I didn't wonder long. He turned brute. He punched her hard in the nose. It was like he had cut her throat. Blood splattered over the front of her dress. I felt a light spray on my face.
She opened her mouth to scream. He smothered it with a terrible slam to the gut. She went limp. He pulled her across him. He darted his paw between her legs.
When he brought his mitt out it made a kissing sound. He had a long shiny plastic tube between his index and middle fingers. It stank like rotten fish.
The broad was moaning and holding both hands to her nose. He unwrapped the package. The pouch was bursting with scratch. In the center of the roll I saw the cellophane edges of packaged dope.
He got out and opened the door on the broad's side. He dragged her out to the sidewalk. He got in the front seat. Perry gunned away. I kept a sharp eye on Red Eye as he counted the scratch in his lap.
Red Eye and I netted two grand apiece. Red Eye took the packages of H. The broad dealer had forty-four hundred in the pouch. Perry and the junkie finger man got two bills apiece.
It was a week before we tried for the second mark. We shouldn't have. He was a reefer peddler and fence. We thought he had big scratch on him. We didn't have a driver.xlii We had the mark in the short. Red Eye was driving.
We were playing the peel off. The mark was in the back seat. I was in the front seat. I asked for his identification. He handed me his hide. I saw it had only a few slats in it.
We were pulling to the curb to search him. A two-man squad car passed. The mark saw them and started screaming. They stopped and dragged Red Eye and me out to the street. They kicked and beat hell out of us. They took us down.
The mark was slick. Right there on the street he cracked we took a C note from him. If he'd known about our roll, he could have beefed for four G's.xliii
The rollers saw our rolls and tried to pin every stick-up on the books against us. We went on every show-up for a week. We didn't get a finger. They booked us for armed robbery of the mark.xliv
- Remember back in the day, back in the days of youth, those gilt-golden days of yore when rainbows sparkled with each dewdrop and the why of not fucking them had to be explained, spelled out ? A young lad of nineteen was outright proud he'd managed to "keep his swipe out of them", like it were some kind of achievement, something to be clucked about like young hens laying eggs trumpet it to the world.
No explanation needed now ; like no explanation ever was needed, really. But... what does youth know. [↩]
- Does this coinage remind you of anything ?
Kissless whoreless pimpvirgins aside, do you, can you perhaps comprehend how much I love my life, the life I've myself for myself built ? The links I've at the ready, the references abundantly, exquisitely available to make my points... never was a life of the mind better supported, backed up, amply, elegantly dominant, arrogantly domineering of its environment, immediate as infinitely stretching away.
I know of no one in the unfurled history of life on earth to date who's yet been wealthier than I, ever, at any point, at all. Plenty who could've been, arguably, maybe, perhaps. Plenty who maybe arguably perhaps could've been that we know for a fact were not. While I... I've got it all. [↩]
- "Ah, curvele astea..." [↩]
- Right ? [↩]
- The team-equivalent of the pickpocket's stall, or the comedian's straight man I guess. Or no, wait, wait. A short's a car that's not a hog, that'd be the long an' the short of it. [↩]
- Cops go out just like any other streetwalker : teams of two. Three's a team and a half, four's two teams (meaning two cars), this genius plan might benefit from a little further brush-up. [↩]
- What the fuck happened to all that fame, o right, right, bycicle under firehose or how'd it go. A dog pee'd it, flushed it away. It's gone now.
Go, ask of Lefty from Mulberry street. Anywhere, urbi et orbi, all the seven buroughs, all the five hills... South Aventinus, East Caelian, Esquiline side, Qurinal Heights, ALL OVER. . Do they even have these there ? They must! It's everywhere!
Oh, and Viminalis, too. Everyone always forgets ole' Vimmie, poor him. He's there too, always was, and come to think of it... if you can (as you do) forget him, how's he ever gonna remember you ? [↩]
- Literally one year prior. These dear old hearts & gentle people's lifespans closely approximate the rats'. I guess I'm about three hundred old in dog years and five to nine centuries antique in pimp years ? [↩]
- As predicted. [↩]
- Not quite so much more, not really sufficiently above, not yet better by enough of a margin than ole Preston's tube in the side. Not just yet, is it. The boy sitting on a bundle o' lettuce a good million strong fails to see the difference between a quarter and a dime ; as his stash squanders away, as the pretty young broad's lead-in turns from breathlessly, exctitedly spoken "Daddy you're so pretty, you've got lashes just like a bitch's" to silently, knottily swallowed "you got deep black circles on that Haloween fright mug look like some tricky practical joker conned you to ram inked spyglasses against the sockets", as the million goes down to high society and below, as the thousands turn into Cs an' saws an' lone bucks... eventually the dime's visibly much less than the quarter.
But usually by that time one's stuck looking up to the dime, the dime that once was, from atop the height of a penny, whenever the penny's there. Occasionally, as it may come to be. [↩]
- Remember how that went, the first, the only other time ?
They were younger, then.
They were younger then, and happy still, and full of life. Young men and women of sixteen, seventeen, maybe nineteen, out "as best they could" to make themselves a life out of this world, to leave of themselves maybe a mark in this world. The marks are there, not in the world so much as on their faces (which sure, are just as much of the world as any other part of that strange, distant, inimaginable thing that's called "the world"). Vertical, though long dried out still bleeding wet. What's Phyllis saying, doing now ? Is Ophelia still there, with her ? What ever became of that old Ford ?
The same needle's eye, threaded again and again, the same endlessly spun endless circle treaded again and again. Yet how and where's Phyllis now... Does he still wonder if that little bitch will miss him ? Was he right in that she damn sure couldn't forget him ?
The things characters in a book are blind to are the book they're in. [↩]
- This is retarded. Here's how the pros do it : they hire a car thief for a driver ; he's supposed to steal a car that's been parked by a square who's done with it for the day (because that's precisely what being a square is all about, and why it's so deeply wrong : they build highways, that are there 24/7, to use them two hours once and two hours again later, and that's it). It won't be reported stolen until early in the morning, by which time it'll have been long abandoned anyways. This way there's nothing to trace. [↩]
- How about Antinous ? Jus' sayin, pretty boy. [↩]
- Sometimes they go off. [↩]
- He's specifically talking of one of you dumb bitches, gone to the big city to "be a writer" like you've seen Horseface "do it" (on TV, where mules can talk and someone listens when women do). This is what this guy makes of your precious self-esteem. And he's right on point, too. [↩]
- And here I thought you can do anything you set your mind to! [↩]
- The quintessential substance of the square is the dull and unyielding unwillingness to put anything above himself (and very rarely, herself). All other perceived properties, manifestations and charcteristics are mere reflections, however bent or fragmentary, of the square's essence, which is their mediocrity. It is for this reason that any attempt at making a world of squares readily reduces to attempting the snuffing out of humanity of anything and everything making it even worth the name. [↩]
- Absolutely, you need kindling to start any kind of fire. How in the hells they're not organizing themselves into little pimp support clubs, mutually guaranteeing the choice of a whore upon completing a prison term is to my mind incomprehensible. I'd absolutely do this, too, "Honey, Slim's out of the joint after that dumb wrap he took. Would you be a peach and get him started again ?"
Because why the hell not ?! People randomly stop to turn over the stopped car of people they don't even know, what, do these pimps love the whores now or something ?
Institutional know-how is the principal asset in "the life" ; what the turnout can learn from watching a whore do she can't learn from listening to rap ; the transfer of experience into knowledge through the brain is lossy enough, but the transfer of knowledge into practice through the mouth is a lost fucking cause. [↩]
- Peddling a pound of pure straight outta the slammer with no contacts and no experience is about as terrible an idea as a blind quadriplegic opening a barber's salon on the expectations borne by his dentist having congratulated him on his dental hygiene. Maybe the dentist was just being nice ? [↩]
- Very easy score, as easy as picking up the eggs from a bird's nest. [↩]
- That doesn't even have to be climbed for. [↩]
- Fucking 40s, man... [↩]
- Chicago was being supplied from New York, 2nd rate backwater... [↩]
- Decisive, brave. [↩]
- A pimp ready for murder one ? That's a sight. Not even the fact that only two in three murders are ever solved (today as then) seems to much encourage them (today as then). [↩]
- How's this carefulness to manifest itself, besides staying the fuck home ? [↩]
- This is already a dead giveaway, by the way. [↩]
- Because he wanted it to be ; and if you call things what you want them to be that's what they become. [↩]
- "We should've had shotguns for this job." [↩]
- He enjoys hurting them, or rather properly speaking not quite hurting them as such. He enjoys shaking their world up a little, as it were. That much is as it should be. [↩]
- What if she made him right away as Iceberg because she was one of the cop&blow seventy, and thereupon promptly asked to be forgiven, taken back, stripped and dispropertied ? You know this happens to me with some regularity ; not that my fame ever "rung" like his, of course (obviously louder and further away, yes, but I mean in the sense of, not in the same way). [↩]
- Do you suppose the narrow walk sociopopular with females is a honest signal, because if your pussy stays sore and swollen it's uncomfortable to try and walk that way ? Because I think it might be. [↩]
Speaking of which, do you suppose Sweet still has that painting ? What do you figure he does with it ? [↩]
- Wrong lead. "You can always go down in price, you can never go up" is what he told the runt, by his own admission trite bullshit in everyone's mouth -- yet by no-one understood. How's he supposed to get himself out of the back alley screw of "who are you" into the plush pad fuck of "spread'em, Mavis, we been tailing your ring for months" now ? Hm ? [↩]
- Perhaps more aptly, "O yeah ? What's your captain's name, runts ?"
- Not bad, actually. [↩]
- She's married, isn't she ? [↩]
- Apparently this was pretty much routine, huh. I wonder how many innocent people had fifties to throw around thusly. Kind-of a signature therefore of the career criminal, n'est pas. [↩]
- Now you know why his wads were always damp ; and also you know damp with what. [↩]
- Ouch. [↩]
- Maybe Mavis makes an even better bottom than Christine. All he has to do is throw her across the hall before her old man and then wait six months. Right ? It's in the skullbook, ain't it ? [↩]
- "Couldn't find a driver", rather. It's difficult to find accessory drivers willing to work for peanuts who also aren't "ex bouncers at Mario's" sorta jokers. [↩]
- What the fuck, these muppets bring their own money to robberies ?! [↩]
- So he was out what, two weeks ? Seems hardly worth the cost of processing, which is why they don't really dole out these joke 18 month terms anymore. [↩]