I used to work for a gangster. No kidding, a real gangster, spelled with an “r” not with an “a.” Finis Patrick Anderson, ecepranauer extraordinaire! He ran strip shows, head shops, did a little bootlegging on the side, and had this ranch south of town where he entertained the power elite of Killeen. My mother put me to work for him after my first divorce because she got tired of me moping around the house crying like a little girl.
I started my career in the My O My Club down on Ave. D. There were no bars in those days and we served a kind of “near beer,” called MetBrew to the soldiers, as they watched the girls dance. The girls would sit at the tables pumping them for drinks, which was 7UP and a shot of Coke to give the appearance of champagne. I was the doorman, and eventually worked my way up to bartender, if you could call it that. I’d pour the MetBrew into a frosted mug, and send out a drink to the lady. There were little plastic cups behind the bar, and every time I served a girl a drink I’d drop a little wooden token in the cup with her name on it. At the end of the night the girls would add up their tokens and Pat would settle up.
Eventually I rose to “bag man” which was the guy who stood back about twenty feet at the bank parking lot at four AM while the assistant manager dropped the proceeds of the evening into a chute for the morning deposit. Average drop was around fifty thousand. Don’t ask! To insure the safety of the drop I carried a Ruger 357 single action peace maker under my coat with a six inch barrel. Everybody in downtown Killeen had a gun. The pimps, dope pushers, prostitutes, the girl ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, EVERYBODY! Believe it or not, this was a polite society. The only time I saw anyone get shot was in an alley between our back door and the bus station during a shootout with the cops. I ran in yelling at Pat about it. He was counting money, and never looked up, only saying, “Same thing as always, somebody talking when they should have been looking.”
Pat moved me out to his ranch to work, and I helped in his store opposite the My O My to be security and work the counter. I was instructed never to charge the prostitutes any tax on their purchases. Pat said if the government won’t tax them then neither would he. Pat kept me insulated from the darker side of his business out of respect for my mother. In those days I didn’t drink, and I was waiting on my wife to come back, so I didn’t have any relationships with any of the girls, either. This went a long way with Pat’s “investors” from Houston, as I was considered loyal and unapproachable.
I did learn a lot of the tricks of the trade, and developed a “Spidey Sense” that I still have to this day. My youngest is always hanging with the “HomeBoys,” and is almost constantly in jail. I went with him to a motel recently and sat with them. I looked around, and we had about ten people in one room, all hanging out the door, with backpacks everywhere, clear field of vision across the parking lot to GOD, and they wonder where all the heat comes from. Pat and his entourage never did that! Tie, nice coat, eat breakfast every morning at nine AM with Pat at my mother’s café downtown. Everyone spoke in low tones, and the police knew us all by name. The one time I was arrested for running a real bar that Pat’s company had set up without a license, I was questioned by the police for about two hours, and then the right honorable Joe Barron, Attorney at Law, showed up and the police smiled and let me go. After that, although I was never in the inner circle, I was trusted with much more than just a door man job.
I never saw any drugs. Pat was the task master at skirting the letter of the law, selling things in his shops that were just under the radar. The police were everywhere, and we had their back as much as they had ours. They money was good. It didn’t take much for me. I didn’t smoke, drink, or party, so meals and gasoline were about it for me. There was one incident where another bag man, Jack, put the money in his car and forgot to take it to the bank. He later got drunk, and I stole the bag, but since he had the key to the drop box I had to take it home, where I put it in my freezer for the night. When I showed up for breakfast the next day, one of Pat’s group, Phillip, told me breakfast was delayed and that I was to report to Pat in his office across the street. When I entered Pat’s office, Jack was sitting in a chair, crying like a newborn baby, with Sandy, one of the division managers of our club group from Austin was talking to him in that low monotone. I put the bag on Pat’s desk, and did not lie. Sandy counted it, checked the receipts, and handed me five hundred dollars, looking at Jack he said, “Take a good look at the man saved your life. You’re FIRED!”
Pat would die from a heart attack. My mom died. Just the other day I went down to Ave. D. Where my mother’s café was is a little park now with benches. I sat on one and looked around. Pat’s store is now a food bank. The old My O My is some kind of church. Everything seems to be written in Korean now. The city is trying to give the area a tourist look with 1890 style lamps and rails, but all the people are gone. I saw one old man, who look familiar. There was this pimp who had one working girl, and she got pregnant. It put the man, Gacy, out of business. One night, after hours, we and the cops all got together and took up a collection and gave it to Gacy to help him through the hard times. I miss those days.
Simple Ol’ Boy From Austin