By Leroy B. Vaughn.
“This tattoo kept me off the Phoenix, Arizona police department,” Tom Baker told me as he sat on the balcony of my apartment in Irvine, California.
I looked at the anchor with the letters U.S.N. on his left forearm and asked “why.”
“The Phoenix P.D. has the same policy that L.A.P.D. had about tattoos when William Parker was the chief. You can’t have any exposed tattoos and wear a police uniform,” Tom answered.
It was our day off, and he was at my apartment sharing a six pack of beer and some tacos.
Tom was the uniformed night watchman at headquarters. He would make rounds at the police garage and watch the officers’ cars while we were in the field.
I didn’t say anything, but I suspected that it may have been his eyes that kept him out of law enforcement. He was a few years older than me, probably in his late thirties.
The glasses with the thick lenses made him look older, and he had a slight paunch.
I assumed that the glasses and belly came after he got out of the navy.
All the cops on my shift, including me, believed that he had been a frogman, a forerunner to the Seals as he told us one night while we drank beer off duty in the parking lot of the Pioneer Market in Santa Anna.
Tom was a good man, and it was obvious to anyone that worked with him that he could handle himself. We encouraged him to take the police officer test, but he didn’t want the position any longer. He had no use for anymore rejection.
Being rejected by the Phoenix P.D. for something as petty as a tattoo on the forearm made him reconsider his career choice.
He was doing okay on his salary, and he supplemented his income as a free lance writer.
I enjoyed talking to him about his writing, as I intended to write a book about my experiences as a police detective someday.
We would drink beer together and he would tell me again how he only had time for one more beer.
He always seemed to have a deadline to meet for some magazine that had given him an advance, and the magazine needed their story right now.
He would finish his beer and I would walk with him to his old jalopy. He would take off in the wee hours of the morning, heading back to his bachelor apartment above the Hello Dolly topless bar in Tustin.
He would be up for hours writing the magazine article that would be due that day.
I asked him one time about living above the topless bar. I had lived in some less than desirable neighborhoods but the Hello Dolly apartment took the prize in my opinion.
He explained to me that as a writer living above a topless bar was perfect. He would find all the characters right there at the Hello Dolly that he would use in his short fiction stories.
I had known Tom for about one year when he told me that he had a new part time job.
“It’s perfect,” he told me as he described his new part time job. He worked at what he called a “porno factory.”
“Are you shitting me?” I asked.
“I wouldn’t shit you, you’re my favourite turd,” he replied as he went on to tell me about the new job.
“It’s great. I can make my own hours. I go to this old building in Santa Anna and I actually punch a time clock at the start of my shift. The boss doesn’t care what you write, as long as it’s porno.
You ought to see the people that work there. There’s a retired fireman, a city librarian, fat housewives, college kids and a couple of grandmothers.”
“So how do you get paid, by the book or what? I asked.
“No, we punch a clock and get paid by the hour.”
“Have you written a complete book yet?
“As a matter of fact, I’ve written a couple of books. This isn’t rocket science. You just sit at your little desk and crank out nasty stuff. These books aren’t going to win any awards, but hey, it pays okay.
You probably aren’t aware, but I’m the guy that coined the term bodacious tata’s.
As a matter of fact, I’m quite proud of myself. I just finished a one hundred page book of sex and lust and I never once used the word throbbing”.
LEROY B. VAUGHN has written over forty short stories, both true and fiction. His stories have appeared in print magazines, e-zines, pod-casts and one newspaper.