“You in a hurry or somethin’?” I ask Charlie from my golf cart.
We get all kinds of trash at Lucho’s dump, and then there’s the refuse. It’s hard work keeping track of who’s dropping off and who’s picking through. Lucho don’t allow no pickers. He’d shit can my fat ass in an abnormal heart beat if he knew the grease on my palm.
“No no, Robin,” Charlie says, and pushes his thick black framed glasses held together by wire back up his nose.
Picking here works for Charlie because he always got grease for my palm and a stogie for my yap.
“You wasn’t letting out without approval?” I ask, and shift my gnawed cigar butt from one corner of my mouth to the other.
I manage the dry pit and hustle pickers on the sly. It don’t pay as much as the wet pit, but there ain’t enough gold in hell for me to work that slop hole. It ain’t the rotting beef smell or the circling seagulls dropping crap bombs neither. I got a cousin JoJo on the soggy end says the wet racket’s a lot meaner: body disposal for the mob.
“No no Robin,” Charlie says.
“What you got?”
Charlie swipes his messy bangs out of his face. A long cardboard tube protrudes from his dirty tote bag. He pushes it to the side, and removes some gewgaw from the sack.
“Here here Robin. I I pulled a couple old action figures. Do do you remember He He-Man and the Masters of the Universe?”
“This this is Skeletor and Beastman.”
“I I might catch a few bucks for ‘em at the swap meet. If if they clean up.”
“What else?” I ask, and rap Charlie in the puss.
“This this,” he stutters, and hands me an old rusty broken pocket watch. “This this might fetch a pretty penny pretty.”
“Probably crap,” I say, looking it over, and putting it in my pocket.
“You you never know.”
“Yes yes,” Charlie says, and starts walking toward the gate, but there’s something peculiar about his stride—something I don’t like in his limp.
I drive my golf cart passed him, and park in front of the exit.
“What what is it Robin?” He asks. “Do do you want Skeletor too?”
“You in an awful big hurry,” I say, looking him over. “What’s in the tube?”
“Oh oh, that,” Charlie says as if he forgot to mention it. “Just just some paper.”
Charlie sighs, and hands me the tube. I take off the top, remove and unfurl the scroll. It’s a two-tone yellow and black movie poster, browning at the edges. Behind a stupid staring robot’s all these shafts of light and windowless skyscrapers. The bottom says, ‘Ein Film Von Fritz Lang,’ and the top says ‘Metropolis.’
“The hell is this?” I ask.
“Nothing nothing,” Charlie says. “Probably probably just a copy—not not worth the paper it’s printed on.”
“Looks old,” I say scratching my nuts. “Let’s consult the Google.”
I search ‘Metropolis movie poster’ on my cracked phone as Charlie deflates like a tire. A site pops up called, ‘The 10 most expensive film posters—in pictures.’
“Beef jerky Jesus,” I say.
“It’s it’s mine,” Charlie says. “Give give it back. I’ll I’ll tell Lucho if you don’t.”
“Have a seat,” I say. “Let’s discuss.”
Charlie reluctantly climbs onboard my golf cart, and I step on the gas.
Can’t have Charlie hocking no poster from my pit for half a rock. Word’d get out for sure. Can’t have him diming to Lucho on me neither. Don’t want to get hit by no shit can. Good thing cousin JoJo owes me one. Paper and flesh don’t last long under all that rotten lettuce.
“Things gonna work out just fine,” I say to Charlie, and shift my gnawed cigar butt from one corner of my mouth to the other as seagull crap starts falling out the sky.