I used to be a repo man, mostly cars, but sometimes we were asked to repossess other items. One job was to pick up Clint’s credit card. I call him Clint because I can’t reveal his real name, and well, you’ll know soon enough.
This was in the mid-sixties when manual imprinters were used to record credit card transactions and merchants received lists of revoked cards that were seldom up-to-date and seldom referred to anyway.
Lloyd and I went to the address provided and knocked on the door, a twenty-something man answered our knock. We explained the purpose for our visit and he invited us in. A mistake we soon regretted.
He invited us to sit down and asked if we would like a cup of coffee or perhaps tea. I said if he already had coffee prepared that would be nice he left to get my coffee and Lloyd looked at me with his what-the-fuck-are-you-doing expression. Clint returned and we explained again why we were there.
He said he understood and would be happy to comply, but then his hand slid into the space between the cushion and the chair he was sitting on and returned with a gun, a 44 magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world.
Okay, it wasn’t a 44, at least I don’t think it was, but I know my heart was beating decidedly faster than it was a few moments earlier, and when Lloyd started to get up Clint said, “Sit down.” He meant it, and Lloyd sat.
“I have some questions before I give you the card,” he said. It would have been nice if he had finished his sentence with, and then you can leave. He didn’t, and my heart rate continued at its accelerated rate. I felt like I might faint.
He asked why anyone would take a job as a repo man. We explained that it just a way to put food on the table, we told of our families. Lloyd told of his children and I said I was looking forward to having children, and we told him what nice guys we were, really.
The gun was sitting on the table next to him. He said, he was sure we were just ordinary guys trying to make ends meet. He said, “we don’t choose our jobs, our jobs choose us.”
What the hell does that mean, I thought. I couldn’t read him, his voice was flat and lacking in emotion. I couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic. He sat for a moment longer and then handed Lloyd the credit card, he also reached for his gun moving it from the table to his lap, his hand on the grip his finger near the trigger.
Both of us had gone from very nervous to terrified, was this how our lives would end? Lloyd said, “hey man, if you want the credit card it’s no big deal,” he extended his arm toward our host offering to return the card. No, he said, still not giving us a clue as to what thoughts were running through his head though I’m sure he had a good idea of what we were thinking.
We stood, I felt fortunate that I was closest to the door, perhaps if he shot Lloyd I’d be able to make a break for it. I was not thinking heroic thoughts, survival mode was kicking in. Lloyd stood also; he offered to return the card one last time. Our host declined, and we both turned toward the door and started to walk. We had taken only a couple of steps when we heard him cock the gun the hammer clicking into place. I know I was telling my legs to move faster, but to be honest I was surprised they were moving at all, I was nearly paralyzed with fear.
We continued to walk not a sound from our host, but the echo of the gun cocking was still ringing in my ears, though any sound had dissipated long ago. We were out the door my heart still pounding, Lloyd was saying something but I couldn’t hear him. I glanced back, our host had not followed us and the door to his apartment was shut.
I started to relax, Lloyd was speaking again, “that scared the shit out of me,” he said. “Yeah, me too,” I replied. “No, really,” he said.