Short Story on a wayward Gypsey going straight.
A GYPSEY STORY
"Help! Help! Police! A thief robbed me, thief, thief. There he goes. Getem," cried Mr. Hill.
Jerry Hill was one of the several victims of Drafi Pestner, a Romani (Gypsy), who wandered through northern California towns in search of food and a place to stay for a night or two. Sebastopol, California was one such town, and it was there that Drafi robbed Jerry Hill on the street of $140. Drafi was of one of the nomadic gypsy tribes.
Drafi, the thief, was a product of the hatred toward him and all his people in the world. Sadly enough, He couldn't get the Holocaust (where the Nazis killed thousands of Gypsies) out of his thoughts.
The Gypsies are hated, and he is aware of this plight. While passing through Ukiah, a small town North of Sebastopol, a restaurant owner caught him going through the garbage in the back yard. He, three waiters and a cook grabbed him, found out he was a gypsy and bludgeoned him over the head, punched him in the stomach, and smashed his face with a serving tray. When the police saw him walking down the street in a severely injured condition, they questioned him and learned of the restaurant scene, but instead of accosting the owner, the police put Drafi in jail for having been under suspicion of stealing from the restaurant.
On being released from prison, Drafi continued his journey; he headed for San Francisco by hitchhiking at the bottom of the on-ramp to Highway 101.
I'm not surprised seeing the inside of jail again; I remember my parents teaching me how most citizens hate us. My mother would say we're slaves in many parts of the world, Drafi.
A truck driver behind the wheel of a 3/4 ton pickup truck stopped, and Drafi hopped in the cab. "I'm going to San Francisco," Drafi said.
"Me too," said the driver. "We'll be there bout an hour."
"Where ya from man?" asked the driver.
"Came from Southern France-haven't a home."
"Right on, homeless."
For about fifteen minutes silence spoke; they could only hear the swooshing of vehicles speeding past the truck.
“About forty thousand homeless in the City and the police are coming down on em worse than ever; some get bus tickets home. I can't see em paying for the trip to France for ya, though, heh, heh. Do you like gardening?”
"If you'd do gardening and some light housekeeping, I know a few spinsters who are looking for help. I could drive you to their place in the City; are you interested?"
"What's the pay?" asked Drafi.
"The ladies have a small bungalow in their back yard where their help had stays; you'd get food and a salary bout $25.00 a week."
"Bring me to the ladies."
"Fine, man, done," said the driver.
Within an hour, the two men were ringing the front door bell of 2637 Lake Street, a particularly lovely area of San Francisco. One of the ladies, Margaret Fromm, opened the door and greeted Mike, who introduced Drafi to her. Margaret's sister, Gwen Fromm, appeared next to Margaret and asked Mike what he wanted. Mike was their stepbrother who had the same mother but a different father. Mike explained about how Drafi was homeless and could use some work.
"Come on in Mike." He and Drafi entered the spacious mansion and brought into a sitting room housing a piano, a thick Persian rug, an excellent array of furniture and décor from around the world. A faint lemon fragrance emitted from a cake permeated the room. The Fromm sisters held a small weekly get together each Wednesday afternoon at 3:00 pm. Countess Dandini from Europe, who owns a larger Mansion in Hillsbourgh, a nearby wealthy suburb, the sister of the founder of the Bank of America, Mrs. Giannini, and an opera singer, Mrs. Blankenburg were their weekly guests who shared the same kind of lemon cake from the local bakery week after week.
"Sit down," Margaret said.
"Oh yes, please sit down gentlemen," Gwen said.
"You are right, Mike, we're looking for a servant who can garden, vacuum the rugs, dust the furniture and wash the car all on a regular basis."
"Could ya do it, man?" Mike asked Drafi.
Mike needed to get going on his job and left. The Fromm sisters interviewed Drafi and made a phone call to a friend at city hall. The spinsters discovered that Drafi has a criminal record of thievery: three for vagrancy and one for stealing from a restaurant (that took place one week ago in Sebastopol). After some discussions about his past crimes, Drafi showed the sisters several pieces of fake ID and non-verifiable references. The sisters excused themselves and retired to the kitchen. After some whispering between themselves, where they discussed their suspicions and their intuitions, Drafi was hired on a temporary probation bases.
The gypsy learned his duties and improved in his performance day by day, yet he couldn't resist the temptation to steal. He opened a chest found in a closet and was overwhelmed. “Man Oh Man,” he thought; “look at that gold. Could get 5 or 10 thousand for these.” He departed to his bungalow and retrieved his travel bag; he went back to the chest and dropped forks, spoons, and knives in the bag.
The Fromm sisters' new servant played his role well; he passed probation and stayed on and on with them. The sisters were especially kind to Drafi. They shared the catered victuals from their parties; they gave Drafi Christmas bonuses and let him borrow their car; they gave him vacations with extra pay and even introduced him to a few of the younger girls in the Fromm family who became his casual friends.
After receiving a lovely Christmas gift of a golden necklace, Drafi was considering the love the Fromms and their friends had been showing him, and he wept. Drafi retrieved the sack of golden dinnerware and went to put it back. How could I steal from such friends? He thought. As he was dropping the treasure back into the ladies' chest, he was deluged with thoughts from his past and hid the gold under his bed. Drafi had worked for the Fromm's for over five years before he asked that the Fromm sisters sit with him and listen to what he wanted to tell them.
The three of them entered the living room and gathered near the fireplace where they sat and enjoyed the crackling of the burning wood, and at first chatted of simple things as the state of the weather and the cost of living.
"Dear ladies; I have some serious words."
"Speak Drafi," Gwyn said.
"You have been good to me. For the last five years, you have treated me better than most neighbors treat their family. When I came under your employee, I felt depressed and rejected by society. Now when I am with you and your friends and sharing in the parties everyone throws, I feel loved. I have even been attending your Church and volunteering my cleaning services there on my days off. I've made many friends with the parishioners there at St. Anthony's and some have invited me to their homes once in a while for some Holiday celebrations. One family, the Blackstones, have been my pals for over a year. John Blackstone and I have even fished the Russian River many times. Because of the love you've shown me, I want you to have this heraldic sign."
Drafi took from his pocket a pouch, opened it, and brought out a golden earring.
"Here ladies; here is the crest of my tribe that was given me when I became sixteen. This work of art has been our tribe for 1,000 years, and I want you two to have it. Outside of my family, you have meant more to me than anyone else in the world. Thank you." Drafi left the room to go to his bungalow for his daily nap, but before he could sleep, he needed to put the booty back in the chest.
"Dear," Margaret said. "We were right about Drafi; he's a kind of nomad Gypsy." The sisters went into their TV den, took out a bottle of Sheri they shared and spoke about how they learned to love their Gypsy help. They placed their treasured golden earring inside their wall safe and poured some more sherry. Winter was coming to a close; spring was approaching and found the ladies preparing for Easter celebrations. Margaret and Gwyn would serve: crackers with caviar, silver dollar sized rye bread with a crab paste, creamed smoked salmon finger sandwiches, and stuffed jumbo shrimp resting on shaved ice within silver serving cups. They enjoyed lawn parties, trips to Bloomingdales, tours of the Caribbean, the beaches of Hawaii, and a few weeks’ vacation to Cancun.
During the end of February, the sisters gave an envelope of instructions to Drafi. He was told what to do while they were away: put the incoming mail on the kitchen table, bring in any newspapers thrown on the porch, continue performing the gardening and cleaning duties, and don't have anyone inside the mansion. Inside the instruction envelope, there were also three $100 bills with a separate note; "We plan on leaving April 5th; be prepared to chauffer us to the airport at 9:00 am. We will be back on August 15th; be ready to pick us up at the airport at 2:00 pm."
One day in the middle of March, while the ladies were packing their bags to bring on their extended getaway, the doorbell rang. The sisters, on the way out, were questioned by two men in black suits, hats, shoes and displaying government badges.
"My name is Agent Falcon, and this is Agent Freeman, of the FBI," Falcon said.
During the interview, the ladies learned that Drafi held illegal papers and that he stole a Rolex wrist watch from a jewelry store where he had worked as a security officer a few days in Windsor, another small northern California town. Agent Falcon went on to explain how a member of St. Anthony's parish, John Blackstone, informed the government what he learned about Drafi during the year the two volunteered and fished together.
The ladies also learned he belonged to a Gypsy tribe from Southern France. Indian Gypsies in India forged the illegal documents. Drafi was not merely a waif-child of a French foreign couple studying legally in the country but an American Gypsy citizen since he was born in America.
"We aren't surprised, officer," said Gwyn. "We suspected his IDs were false from the beginning, but we needed help, and Drafi was willing to give us a try."
"We have been happy with Drafi, and we love him. He has performed well," said Margaret.
"Knowing of Drafi's good work and your testimony will be t taken into consideration when the judges decide what to do with him, but as it is against our laws having Gypsies carrying false IDs and stealing from our citizens. We are compelled to arrest Drafi. Please bring him to us."
Margaret excused herself and went to get Drafi. Agent Falcon and Freeman along with Gwyn waited and waited for Margaret and Drafi, but after a considerable time, and Margaret hadn't delivered Drafii, the agents followed Gwyn to his room. Just as they set out following Gwyn, Margaret appeared stating she was unable to locate Drafi, though she searched the yard, the bungalow, the house, and the cellar.
"What?" said Falcon, "This can't be." Did you tell him we were here to arrest him."?
"My dear officer Falcon, I may not be a saint, but our family has upheld the laws of our land for over a 150 years. In fact, my great, great grandfather was an assistant sheriff in a township in Main when pirates were being given the run of the ocean by politicians who lined their pockets with pirate's stolen booty." Margaret said? “My great, great grandfather shot and killed some pirates when being attacked for arresting them.”
The officers searched around themselves only to determine Margaret was right; Drafi wasn't on the premises.
The sisters and the law could not locate Drafi in the mansion. He escaped with Margaret's advice and found himself in a small dinner asking for a ride from a patron. His luck hadn't run out; a customer invited him to travel with him to Sacramento where he meandered around begging money from passer buys. Drafi had stopped nearly all this thievery and even drifted into a church every so often to thank God that Margaret gave him a tip off about the Feds.
After a few days of wandering Sacramento's streets, he considered robbing the tip jars from the many retail businesses that had them resting on their counters. When he was ready, he headed to a candy store to swipe the money in the jar. On approaching the store, he read a sign in the window: Delivery person needed; vehicle and gasoline provided. Apply within. He casually moved toward the tip vessel; he opened his jacket front, reached out to take the container, saw no one was watching but froze when he went for it. He bit his tongue, turned to leave, and wept as he went out. He gave severe and profound consideration to what he was thinking about doing. Drafi reentered the store and picked up an application that led to work which turned into his ligament career.