When James finished, Dan smiled. “So the old guy’s been hiding out ever since then? What do you think he’ll do?”
James looked out the side window, and then turned to Dan. “He’ll probably rabbit like he did before. He knows I’ll be coming back for the plane so he won’t go back to the house.”
“You gonna go looking for him?”
“What for? That was my father’s way of doing things, not mine.”
When they reached home, James said, “Do me a favor and drop me off at my Uncle’s house so I can give him the money for the phone before he decides to vig me?”
Dan laughed. “Your uncle’s going to charge you interest?”
James chuckled. “Yeah, he threatened to vig me if I didn’t pay for the phone bill right away.”
Dan laughed again. “I know it’s not your lifestyle, but you have to admit, your family had some colorful characters in it.”
James looked at him. “Colorful is not a word I would use to describe them. You’re lucky you didn’t have to grow up with that crap.”
The tone of James’ voice let Dan know to let the subject drop. “You want me to wait for you?”
“No, I’m going to stop in at my Mother’s house and then I’ll walk home.”
“That’s over two miles.”
“I need to get it out.”
Dan dropped James off at his uncle’s house. “If you change your mind call me.”
James rang the doorbell and waited. Two minutes later, his uncle opened the door.
Uncle Charles stared at him. “Whatta ya doing here? You told me you were in Colorado.”
“I was in Connecticut,” James corrected him. “Don’t you remember?”
“You think I don’t remember? You think I’m stupid? Connecticut, Colorado, I know the difference you know. You think I don’t? You think I’m stupid?”
“Uncle Charles, I don’t think you’re stupid. I know you know the difference. I came to give you the money for the phone bill for the collect call I made to you earlier.”
Uncle Charles nodded. “Yeah I remember that call. I’m not stupid. What were you doing in Colorado anyway?”
James opened his mouth to correct him, thought better of it and said, “I had business to take care of.”
“I thought you didn’t want anything to do with the family business?” Uncle Charles asked at the same time scanning the yard to be sure they were alone.
“It was personal business, not family,” James said hoping that would put an end to the questioning.
“Smart answer,” Uncle Charles replied. “I like that.” He pointed a finger at James. “You’re gonna do good for the family. I know when someone’s got what it takes. I’m not stupid you know.”
James removed a twenty dollar bill from his wallet and handed it to Uncle Charles.
“What’s this? You giving me a payoff?” Uncles Charles said without taking the money. I’m not stupid you know? I know what a payoff is. You settin’ me up James? I know what a set up is. I’m not stupid you know.”
James shoved the money into Uncle Charles’ hand. “It’s not a payoff. It’s for the damn phone bill for the call I made this morning.”
In a quick movement that caught James by surprise, Uncle Charles gave him a swat on the side of the head. “Get smart with me and I’ll take you downstairs and teach you a lesson. You think I can’t do it? You think I’m stupid? Try me.”
James just shook his and turned to leave. Then looking back at Uncle Charles he said, “I’m going to see my mother and then I’m going home.”
Uncle Charles looked at the money in his hand. “This better cover the call from Colorado cuz if it’s not, I’ll vig you for trying to stiff me. I’m not stupid you know.”
“It’s enough,” James called over his shoulder and kept walking.
Just as James rounded a curve in the road, he spotted Martin’s truck coming from his mother’s driveway and started running.
October 30, 2014