The Stockbroker – 10

They watched him as he came up, hallooing at him.

Howdy Ricky, he said. Jimmy. Mark.

They each stood and shook his hand and pat him on his back and told him that it had been too long and that he should come by more often but that he was probably too much of a big shot now for any of that. They told him that the ladies missed him and that so did the boys. They offered him a beer from a cooler under the table and he politely declined and then they all sat down again. Morris remained standing.

Is Wes in the house?

He’s probably out back with Justine. Him and her are givin it another go. You believe that.

He nodded.

Sure you don’t want to sit in on a few hands.

Best I say hello to Wes.

Yeah, that’s probably a good idea. Young Morris. Sure is good to see you. Don’t go running off without sayin goodbye.

Likely I’ll stick around tonight Ricky. If that’s alright.

Shoot Morris. There aint no hard feelings here. You did what you had to do. Aint no fault in movin up in the world. It’s a shame your momma didn’t live to see you a success.

He nodded.

The room off the kitchen is vacated. Has been since Yolanda took off. You can have it for as long as you like.

Likely it’s just to be for tonight.

Well if it is it is.

Thanks, Ricky.

You bet, Jon.

He turned toward the doorway and as he went to it he ran his hand against the blue clapboard where his initials set carved childlike aside a childlike WL. He stopped at the front door and listened. The men having picked up their conversation at the card table. The cicadas clamoring yet if they had been so this whole while he had not noticed them. On the street cars idling. He smoothed his hair another time and opened the door and walked across the threshold and shut the door behind him.

When he walked into the house he was hit by the smell of narcotics and there was a new boy sitting at a round metal table and filling the plastic gram baggies from the white powder piled before him. He wore a red bandana lowered across his face and he looked up for a moment at Morris and raised his hand and then fell back to work. He could see behind the boy and into the kitchen where the back porchlight was on. Wes in the back?, he said. The boy nodded. From an old dog lay on a brown corduroy sofa in the corner came a whimper and the dog’s head was raised and tail popped up and wagging.

He walked over and pet it. I miss you too, boy, he said. He studied then where the coat was burned down to raw skin at the nape. He touched the skin gently and the dog whimpered again. What happened to Leroy, he said? The boy looked up and shrugged. Ricky Jr. he’s into burnin stuff, he said. He returned to his work and he looked once more beyond the boy and went on to the kitchen and to the back door. He could hear them now having an argument. He opened the door lest he might not ever.