9/29/09 Fight with my Bodyguard

It was a bad painting day today which was ironic since the weather was stellar.  I couldn’t concentrate on painting  because we were fighting most of the day and then the rest of the day I was angry that I felt I had to bail out my assistant.  My bodyguard still hadn’t cashed the check I’d written and it had become my problem.  He tried to go to the scrap-yard  he once worked at that used to cash his checks but the scrap-yard owner was friends with Tom, the storeowner, and Tom had called ahead and the scrap-yard owner not to cash my bodyguard’s checks (because he is mad at him for shoplifting from the store).  My Bodyguard still denies that he stole but can’t get his check cashed anywhere else. He says the banks won’t do it.  He doesn’t have enough money to keep a bank account and if he had an account, he’d be getting bounced check fees.

The fight this morning was about my assistant wanting things his way and not listening.  He wanted me to rewrite the check I had made out to him in a different name—the name of his landlord– and I refused.  We worked in stony silence past noon until I broached the subject again.  I tried to explain to him in very simple terms because I do believe my assistant has an undiagnosed learning disability.  He gets angry and frustrated without understanding the whole situation.  He has trouble remembering things and keeping things straight. I don’t think he can read or write.  I feel he is vulnerable and probably has been taken advantage of his whole life.  I tried to explain that I was trying to run an art business and that In order to do this, I might need to declare his services as a business expense to the government if I can sell enough paintings.  I told him I could not afford to hire him otherwise and that the alternative would be to have him make me out invoices and give him a 1099 form at the end of the year.  Then I told him I had a box of fig Newtons in the truck.  I went out to get them and we ate them all.

I had an idea of who could cash his check.  I remembered, “What about having Leon cash your check?”.  My bodyguard looked stunned and then considered what I had said.  He told me that he didn’t have Leon’s number, though.  Several months prior, my bodyguard had tried to introduce me to Leon, his “cousin” who wanted to meet me. They grew up together in East Saint Louis.  In the recent past, for about three weeks, my bodyguard had worked cleaning houses for this man (he says) for $60 a day, 10AM until 1AM, but with a big home-cooked dinner thrown in, but then had to ride his bike all the way home in the dark late at night in a dangerous neighborhood.   My bodyguard complained that a ride home wasn’t offered.  I told him he should have simply asked.   (My bodyguard made it sound like he was exploited by working long hours but it was to take advantage of the cleaning and sanding machine rentals.)    Leon now works part-time at a pawnshop.  My bodyguard tells me stories about all the girlfriends his “cousin” has even though he is married and that that is what the extra houses are for. I’m starting not to trust what my bodyguard tells me, however.  Anyway, at first I was slightly afraid to meet Leon from the stories I had been told, but I had his number still in my cell phone from when my bodyguard first gave it to me.  We called Leon.  My bodyguard was out of minutes on his own phone so he used mine.  I  talked to Leon as well and set a date to meet his “cousin” after painting the next day with a proposal for an art project I wanted to do with children in East Saint Louis that he could help me with.  (Later I was to learn that Leon’s extra houses were not for mistresses-but investments.  My bodyguard said one was his fathers house and the other a pervert’s whom they cleaned out nothing but porn.  I told him that porn was valuable and could fetch big money but he said they threw it all out.)

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