Feb 22, 2012
“This is way beyond the scope of the work, Mr. Smoke.”
“You can stop the charade, Mr. Tracker. I know who you are. Or should I say, what you are?”
“For a man who can’t seem to handle talking and breathing at the same time, you seem to be wasting a lot of words in dependent clauses.”
“Not just dependent clauses, but dependents in general. Do. You. Have. It?”
“What do you think I have, Mr. Smoke? Is it what I think it is? That’s what everyone calls you, isn’t it?”
“Please. Mr. Tracker. Don’t make me repeat it. For obvious reasons.”
“Can I please get my clothes back on?”
“When I get what I want. Then you’ll get what’s coming to you.”
“When I get what I want, then you’ll get what’s coming to you,” I countered.
He made his move. I made mine. Mine was towards the pile of garments a few feet to my right. His move was towards me. I had the crucial decision whether to put on my briefs or grab the essentials before I was grabbed. He moved fast for a man who seemed to relax on life support and got hold of my arm. Was I about to enter a sparring match with this old coot? And if so, is it billable time.
“I know you’re a man who always gets what he wants, Mr. Smoke, but this time it may not happen.”
“I think it may.”
I did a spin move out of his grasp, grasped my pants and that shirt. Lenny Friday’s Hawaiian shirt. Smoke might have been able to move remarkably well for a man in his stage of life, but only in direction. My move left him standing like a rookie cornerback trying to cover Jerry Rice. In this prime.
“You should take it easy, Mr. Smoke. I’m sure we can work something out here.”
“What do you want for it, Tracker?”
“How about paying my bill and letting me get the hell out of this place?”
“Where is it?”
“Don’t fool with me.”
He showed me why. A small hand gun was suddenly found his small hand.
“I think you should put that down, don’t you?”
“I think you need to make me. Believe what you say. Now where is it?”
It was right where I left it. In Lenny Friday’s Hawaiian shirt. When I plucked the tiny tree from inside the 27” Zenith and changed the water in its bag I gave it to Howie’s sister. It fit snugly inside the gusset she made with room for the ant-size leaves to breath fresh air hidden among the floral pattern.
“You’re looking right at it. Safe and sound.”
So, I gave him his damned tree. He took it like a greedy piglet on a crowded sow. Yes, in his mouth.”
“It’s the only way to know if it’s genuine, Mr. Tracker.”
“Tastes one to know one, I guess.”
“Oh, nothing. Didn’t realize you were listening. My statement?”
“You can bring it round tomorrow.”
I left him alone with his little tree and I wondered how it might taste with chocolate milk.
I also wondered why I told him I’d give him a statement. I didn’t have any statement. I needed one. And I didn’t want to wait for tomorrow. I’ve waited for too many tomorrows and wound up with a pile of yesterdays.
Sometimes fortune laughs at you. Once in a while, with you. But more than often, it just smiles. This time it whistled. The tune came from the pursed lips of a postman making his daily rounds. Oblivious to his chattel he seems only interested in blowing out a morning song as he jammed envelopes into their supposed respective destinations. I’m sure Mr. and Mrs. Hawley D. Borlini wouldn’t miss another solicitation from the Friends of Nountown Harvest Jubilee Association. It had the look and feel of a real good statement. One way or the other I was going to make a statement.