The Stockbroker -16

They dressed and came out into the main room where Ricky was already done packing the narcotics in a metal storage trunk. He hauled it up and they followed him out to the back. The boy had cleared away the dirt from over the dugout and he unlocked and opened the doorhatch and got down inside and took one end of the trunk from Ricky and then they both disappeared underground for a few moments before they appeared again, Ricky followed by the boy. Ricky lowered the hatch and the boy handed him the key and he locked it. They all turned to see the roof catch fire.

I caint find Ricky Jr., Justine. And where the hell is Wes.

He went back inside and the boy began shoveling dirt back over the hatch and Morris and Justine went around to the front and watched the house. The neighbors had gathered. Morris called for the dog still on the porch and it raised its head and lingered over. He saw the newboy come around now but he kept walking and turned out of the crowd onto Upson toward Niles.

He came out the front door a few minutes later holding Ricky Jr. in his arms. He went over and set him down beside Morris.

Jon, hold onto him alright.

Morris took the child’s hand. He went back inside once more and by the time he’d come out the whole of the roof was near collapse. Held in his arms were a stack of photo albums and he labored off the front porch coughing and he walked over and stood beside Ricky Junior. He let go the child’s hand. It had a fresh lighter burn on it the color of ash.

Don’t stick around for this, Jon.

He nudged him along and Morris nodded and nodded to Justine. As he stepped from the curb he could hear the sirens.

He had walked along Upson in the direction of town and toward the end of the road he passed the house. The old man was sitting in a spared corner on the still wrecked porch, looking out into nothing in a glaucomic haze.

Mr. Tilden.

The old man didn’t look at him. Neither did he move. Morris stood there for another moment and then kept on.

Hold up, boy, he said.

He doubled back the several feet he had gone and said again: Mr. Tilden.

His watery eyes scanning what was in front of him. It’s you, Jon Morris, aint it?, he said.

It is, sir.

Well, you bring the trouble with you.

He didn’t say any thing. The sirens now getting closer. He looked over at the porch.

I sure am sorry about what happened.

Well. At least you was drivin a Mercedes, Jon.

How come you left it so. I sent you the money.

The old man told him that all things are an act of God. And that some things are best left as they were. The door opened then and his daughter came out and handed him a tray holding a coffee and a sweetroll. She looked at Morris before she returned inside.

It’s for her, Jon. It’s all for her.

He said goodbye to the old man and he waved but the old man didn’t wave back. Godspeed, he said.