The Hulk

 

Vs.

 

Five Forty-four 

 

Published in Mission At Tenth 2014

 

 

            He was huge, not an ounce of fat on him. He drove a white 70’s GTO muscle car with oversized wheels in the rear. He took drugs and sold anabolic steroids and crystal meth. He shaved every hair on his body except those on his thin blond head. He spent hours in front of the mirror, preening, grimacing and admiring his etched body. He was a male prostitute, my girlfriend Barbara’s next-door neighbor – The Hulk.

            Before the Hulk came Arturo, a chubby man with a mustache and two hearing aids. I didn’t care for Arturo because he was a gossipmonger and engaged my girlfriend in backstabbing the neighbors. Since Barbara didn’t see it that way, I avoided the two of them when they were chattering away like hens.

            Barbara lived in a two-storey concrete warehouse on Folsom Street, South of Market in San Francisco. It was the early eighties and there were multiple leather bars and sex clubs on every block. Half a block away was the notorious Ringold Alley. It was exactly one block long, between 8th and 9th Streets. This was the destination for lonely men that hadn’t picked someone up before the bars closed at two a.m. Over the years, enough semen was spilt to coat the alley three times over.

            Barbara loved being the only woman in her building and loved the neighborhood too, because she was never hassled. I however, learned what it felt like to be ogled by horny drunken men when I road my bike over to spend the night. I felt like a piece of chum in a sea of churning sharks. It was creepy and creepier still, if someone was getting a blowjob in the recess of the doorway that I had to put my key into to pass.

            Arturo was responsible for the Hulk becoming Barbara’s neighbor. He paid the Hulk for sex and soon after brought him in as a roommate, believing the Hulk was his boyfriend.

            At one point Barbara and Arturo’s loft had been one. But somewhere down the line a wall was raised, splitting it in two. The separated lofts shared an electric meter and the bill was halved equally. This arrangement worked fine until the Hulk arrived with a stereo system that shook the common wall. Because of his work schedule and drug intake, night became day and day became night, which meant that disco music could come blasting at any hour. Soon, Arturo was driven out of his loft and moved into another one on the opposite side of the building, leaving Barbara to deal with the Hulk on her own.

            On the night that Barbara’s mother came to visit, the Hulk cranked the volume. Barbara pounded on the walls and then his front door and either the Hulk ignored her or simply couldn’t hear banging over the beat. To take care of the problem, she shut him down at the electrical panel. Suddenly, her door shuddered with each of his kicks. Rather than have the Hulk take the door off its hinges, she opened it and 250 pounds of chiseled roid-rage burst into the room, wearing bikini briefs.

            “Turn my power back on you fucking cunt!” Barb knew she was out gunned.  “Move. If you do it again, I’ll fucking kill you.”

            Barbara’s mother was in shock. “Shall we call the police?” she asked after he left.

            “No, that will further enrage him.”

 

           

            My father had a rancher friend north of Ft. Collins, Colorado who had a second ranch forty miles away in Wyoming. Every fall, Adrian drove his Wyoming cattle overland to Colorado for the winter. Being one of the last ranchers to do this I asked my father to see if Adrian would let me tag along. My dad got a nod of the head as Adrian rarely spoke unless it was absolutely necessary. I bought a one-way ticket intending to buy a car and drive it back to San Francisco. Barb and I were splitting the cost.

            I woke at 5 a.m. and drove to Adrian’s house. We ferried the horse trailers to the Wyoming ranch where I was given Penny the most docile horse. Luckily Penny knew more about what was going on than I did. If a cow cut from the herd near me, she trotted over to bring her back in with the others. By lunch I was so sore I could hardly walk. Adrian’s daughter met us at an underpass with a cooler containing bologna sandwiches on white bread. I never insulted them with the fact that I was a vegetarian. I quietly swallowed my first meat in eight years and surrounded by beef, examined the irony of it. That evening I was exhausted and told Adrian that there was no way I could last in the saddle. He almost smiled and nodded his head acknowledging he was loosing his fifth wheel.

            Soon after, I found a 1959, 544 Volvo and called Barbara. She left it to my judgment, so I purchased the car and was on the road several days later. When I reached San Francisco, I went directly to Barb’s loft.

            “Wow it’s super cute,” she exclaimed. “Let’s go to Orr Hot Springs this weekend.”

            “Great.”

            Besides being a couple we also shared a photo studio two buildings down from her loft. Most of the time we kept 544 near her house and our studio. If we couldn’t find a legal parking place, we usually got away with parking in Rodgers Alley as most of the meter maids avoided it.

One day Barbara parked 544 in the alley near the open garage. Later we heard the rumble of the GTO. The Hulk drove his muscle car aggressively and squealed his tires turning quickly into the alley and again going into the garage. Five minutes went by when our phone rang and Jim, a neighbor, announced, “The Hulk is kicking the shit out of your car. I think he clipped it turning into the garage.”

            We ran to the alley and there was a huge dent in the driver’s side door and another in the rear quarter panel. Jim leaned out his window. “He went completely nuts. He was screaming curses at your car, kicking it over and over.”

            “Thanks Jim, I’m calling the cops.”

            Five minutes later, a police car rolled with a male and female cop. Barbara explained the situation.

            “Be careful,” I said. “He’s huge and unpredictable.”

            “Do you want us to arrest him?”

            “Definitely.”

            “He will probably be released within three hours.”

            “Go for it.”

            Barbara led the cops to Hulk’s door and returned to the alley where we waited. Several minutes later they led Hulk to their car in his bikini briefs. It took two pairs of cuffs and Hulk was completely humiliated, crying like a baby. Arrested by a female, and not given the opportunity to put on a pair of pants, his steroid, shrunken, junk was exposed for all the world, to see.

            Several weeks later the phone rang. “Hi I’m public defender Janice M. I represent Darnell B.”

            “Whose that?”

            “The man that accosted your car.”

            “Oh, the Hulk.”

            The public defender laughed. “Darnell is worried about having a criminal record and is wondering if we could come to some sort of agreement whereby you would drop charges?”

           “Sure if he pays for the repairs on our car.”

           “How much money would that take?”

           “I had one estimate for $800 and another for $950 – so $800.”

           “Let me get back to Darnell.”

           Ten minutes and the phone rang again. “Hi, its Public Defender Janice M. Listen, Darnell thinks $800 is too much money. My client is unemployed and short of funds.”

           “The Hulk may not pay taxes or have a degree in pharmacology or massage therapy. But Hulk makes money and none of it is legal. Ask him what that beeper is for?”

           “Got it. I’ll see what I can do.”

Another five minutes went by and the phone rang. “You did it. He’s willing to pay.”

           “I don’t want to see that guy.”

           “Don’t worry, I’ll get the money and you can retrieve it tomorrow at my office on Bryant Street.”

           “Cool.”

           The next day I walked over to Janice’s office to get the envelope of cash. Janice was a brassy, beautiful  lady. We shook hands. “You’ve got an interesting client,” I told her.

           “And you’ve got an set of cajones.  I didn’t think you’d get this money.”

            “I have a feeling the Hulk got picked on when he was a kid and re-invented himself so that he could do the bullying.”

            “Interesting theory,” she said, as I tucked the envelope into my jacket pocket.

            “Came from the back of a comic book.”

Strangely, Hulk quietly vanished. After a week, maybe two, someone asked, “Have you seen the Hulk?”

No one answered.