The Stockbroker – 4

He could see now that she was holding a baby. He kept on over to the attendant station and through the plexiglass paid five dollars for gas. The intercom crackled. You gotta stop it yourself, the voice said.

He was halfway back toward the pump when he stopped to watch them. An old man with ungulated hands and sheathed in a layer of dust was now sitting on a crate of his own beside her. Holding up his fused fingers. As if one sought to discover their clade or ancestral purpose. She turned toward the man for a moment as if to seek a common understanding of their predicament and then she fed the baby briefly under her huipil. She took from a small satchel she had belted around her waist a fresh cloth and changed the baby and took the old cloth and reached it into the ashcan. The oldman had yet to move. An effigy of a man perhaps, here for a day or some years. Finally he coughed.

It had been that he was standing in the middle of the laneway. By all accounts a surveyor of sorts. Traversing his innermost consciousness. As if one could contemplate the very nature of things in brevity. Or the souls of persons in the days that feel shorter. Still what had given rise to these indigent? On hearing the tap of a carhorn behind him he continued on out of the laneway and toward the pump and passed at the rearend of the vehicle this time and unscrewed the gascap and took up and fit the nozzle. He heeded the numerics turn on the analog screen and at four-and-a-half dollars he unclicked the lever and slow filled the last fifty cents. When he went over by a penny he took one from his pocket and dished it into the keeptray.

He opened the car door and got in and shut the door and then he opened the door again and stood halfway out. He leaned over the driverwindow at the cratesitters. What kind of help do yall need?, he said.

She was already looking up at him. Or past him. Agua, she said. Comida.

Alright. Hold on.

He got back in the car and pulled it forward and parked in a restlane by the airpumps and walked over the knoll to the Taco Bell next door. He came back some minutes later and handed them the bag of food and the tumblers of water.

Gracias, they both said.

The old man took again to studying his hands while she looked up at the other. You done something, she said. But do you know what is it?

He shrugged and in her light eyes he could make out the reflection of the huipil. He glanced down further and regarded by the wind the dingy white fabric ruffle about her body. At her breasts were circles stained the color of humus. He looked at the baby. Still as a stone.

Does the baby need help, mam.

My nino no need help. The world need help.

He nodded.

You go in peace, senor.

He nodded again. I could take you somewhere, he said.