I did not find Simon in the usual place, but behind the iron gate of a tea house courtyard. He lay very still, not twitching nor snoring. His head rested upon a newspaper, which always seemed curious to me, like a persistent shadow from a former existence. His nose pointed skyward and his hands clasped together the button-less gray coat, displaying hard won medals of soup kitchen meals and liquor stains across the front. I stood watching for any movement. Then his chest moved upwards two times as if to draw an extra dose of air for later use. He opened his eyes.
“You spyin’ on me?”
“Yes, sir. Brought you something.” I waited for him to sit up. He rubbed his head, smearing an extra layer of brown upon it.
He took the bag from me and carefully removed two egg sandwiches. “Looks like the edges are burnt,” he said.
“Sorry about that. I couldn’t find any butter—don’t use it much. How come you moved from the church steps?”
“Seth found me; started crying and all. I wish he’d leave me alone.” Simon bit into the sandwich, chewed furiously and then swallowed hard, pushing any unwelcome ire down, away from his throat.
“Well, Seth is your son, Simon,” I said.
A metal rod on the gate hid the curve of his back from my line of view. For a moment, I imagined him sitting at his desk at the 23rd Street office of Simon and Yamane—postured, confident and shrewd.
During the nine months since I found him on the street, we had a handful of conversations about those days. At times his face shadowed with longing for things lost, at others he spit out bitter hatred for the entire judicial process.
Simon’s eyes drifted into the distance. Holding the sandwich with two hands now, he took several bites, chewed and swallowed without looking down.
Once again I had lost his attention to the outer limits of his world.
I opened the gate and moved in beside him, dropping clumsily into a sitting position. It was cold and windy in the open space of the courtyard; my hat and scarf served little protection.
I spoke softly into his ear, calling him by his first name, “Let me take you in today, David. Besides, it’s too cold to be out here in the open.”
“I told you. I don’t need a doctor.”
“I think it’s spreading—the lump is bigger, redder than last week. You can’t even turn your neck to look at me.”
“Who says I want to look at you?”
“Simon, stop being difficult. You aren’t the only one who has suffered in this world.
“Then why don’t you offer me something I want, like a good stiff drink, instead of beds, clothing, MRI’s, or religion? While you’re at it, why don’t you pray to that God and ask Him to turn back the clock and rig the electric chair to fail? So that Miriam is alive again. So that her dreadful boss fries instead of her. So that I can sway the jury, win the case and have my sister back—your wife back, Hiram. Oh, I don’t care. Just…leave me…alone.”
His hand trembled, dropping bits of egg onto his lap.
“No one can turn back the clock, David. You only have today and the decisions you make in that day. In the end, the only decision that counts is the one about God.
“I’ve made my decision. Look, you can take me in for pain medication. But please, if you respect our friendship at all…don’t talk to me about God or any other form of panacea.”
“Miriam loved you, David. I love you and I thank Him that I found you again…”
“There you are, Mr. Yamane! You weren’t on the steps…” My young driver, Charlie, warmed us with his smile. “Let me help you both up. I have two orders of your favorite—egg drop soup—in the car. Would you like some, Mr. Simon?”
Simon started to pull himself up, clinging to the iron gate. “Son, do you have any whiskey in that car?”
“Thank you, Charlie. We will be stopping by County General this morning,” I said.
“Very good. I made the bed ready in the guest room.”
I darted a quick quiet please glance toward Charlie and gently pushed my old partner—my brother-in-law, David Simon—into the car.
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