“You might have another client before long,” Carl announced as he got out of the ambulance driver’s seat. Micky was sitting on the back stoop of the funeral home smoking a cigarette. His son, Ollie, was playing with a ball in the yard.
“What makes you say that?” Micky squinted up at Carl in the evening sun.
“The usual, I picked up the poor bastard. He was retiling his roof and fell off. Head trauma. He might not even wake up again,” Carl replied. He pulled out his flask and took a swig. Ollie laughed as he chased the ball across the yard. Micky shrugged.
“Well, I got a table free…and the fuckin’ archangel raining down vengeance on my shoulders.” Micky rubbed his forehead. Carl peered up to see if the upper windows were open. They were shut tight.
“So the Misses is still pretty ticked then?” he mumbled.
“Yeah, when isn’t she?” Micky took a pull on his cigarette and blew it out with a hiss. “She finally let me back upstairs, then after a late night, I fall dead asleep and she goes through my pockets. I forgot to hide my cash. It’s fucking gone now. It was confiscated for household expenses and I was accused of holding out. I had to think fast on how to explain it otherwise she’d be expecting the same amount next month.”
“What did you end up sayin?” Carl asked.
“A lucky game of cards, which I also got chewed out for gambling, but I couldn’t mention the hooch.” Micky shook his head. Carl leaned against the house.
“Damn, you got your pockets picked on a hooch night? It can’t get much worse than that,” he said in disbelief.
“I sorta needed that for supplies…Hey! Ollie get away from the weeds. There’s snakes ‘n’ shit out there!” Micky yelled. The little boy jumped back out of the tall grass and pointed. Micky stood up and crossed the yard to his son. The boy kept pointing.
“Ball der,” Ollie said.
“Alright, alright. I see it,” Micky waded into the grasses to retrieve the ball. With his cigarette clenched between his teeth, he tossed it back out on the lawn. Ollie kicked the ball and ran after it as Micky climbed out of the tall grass.
“What? No thank you?” he called after the kid. Ollie gave him a wary look and picked up the ball. Micky reached down to pull the burrs off his pant le as a young man came around the corner of the house. Carl stood up and gave the visitor a questioning glare.
“I’m looking for Micky O.” the young man said.
“Yeah, whaddya want?” Micky crossed the yard. Ollie hesitated and ran after his father with his ball. He stood behind Micky and peered shyly around his leg at the stranger. The man glanced nervously at Carl then Micky.
“I heard you were the person to see about getting some stuff.” He rubbed his neck, clearly uncomfortable.
“Stuff, huh?” Micky looked him up and down, “Whoever told you that shoulda mentioned there isn’t stuff until after dark on Thursdays.”
“Gee…” The kid was desperately trying to think of an explanation. Micky put his hands in his pockets unimpressed. “I have a date though, you see…and I told her I could get some stuff.”
“Oh give the kid a break, Mick!” Carl exclaimed. “He’s got a date.”
“Alright, let’s see your cash,” Micky snapped. He had rules for a reason. He couldn’t go bending them for every other lush that stopped by. The man dug a couple bucks out of his pocket and handed them over. Micky nodded.
“Why don’t you go inside, Ollie?” Micky suggested to his son. The boy stared up at him. “Go inside,” he repeated more forcefully with a nudge to get the child moving. Ollie started to slowly climb the stairs to the apartment. Micky entered the back door of the funeral home. Carl stood awkwardly with the kid.
“She must be some girl,” he commented.
“Yeah, she is,” the boy replied with a nod.
Micky reappeared and tossed a bottle at the kid.
“Now scram!” he said. The young man tucked the bottle in his coat and hurried away.
Lena appeared in the apartment doorway. Ollie was coming back down the steps.
“You watch him! I have headache!” she cried. Micky growled as the door snapped shut.
“Probably because you’re always yelling!” he hollered back. Ollie stopped halfway down the stairs and sat with his chin in his hands pouting.
The young man hurried down the street from the funeral home. He turned down an avenue and approached a man sitting in a car.
“I have it,” he said quietly to the man reading a newspaper.
“Give it here,” the man ordered without even a glance up. The kid carefully pulled it out of his coat and passed it into the car. The man inside handed him enough cash to buy two more bottles.
“Gee, Mister, thanks, but I don’t get it. Why not go buy it yourself?”
Jack looked at the kid incredulously.
“Cuz it ain’t Thursday,” he replied. He started the car, a message that the conversation was abruptly at an end.