The moon was darken by the storm making the night totally black. Sammy Quick and I were to meet in the alley behind South Street grocery. Nothing good ever came out of South Street and tonight would be no exception. My snub nose 38 weighted my bag like a ton of bricks, but I wanted to be prepared. I was leaning against a post when Sammy appeared out of the fog.
“You got it?” Sammy didn’t mince words.
I didn’t lift my cap to look in his eyes but I knew his steely stare and intentions would be less than honorable. “Yeah, but not on me.”
“No money till I sees it.”
“I got it stashed where you can find it, without me given’ it to you.” I chuckled under my breath. “Not guilty by you finding it, and it can’t be traced to me.”
Sammy was twisting nervously. “Where?”
“Nope.” My skin began to tingle knowing I was making an affront to a powerful man. “Not till I get paid.” I could see he didn’t like my answer.
Sammy started to move around and I turned so to keep him in front of me. “I’ll tell the Nose.” He referred to a local boss, one who had his nose cut halfway off in a fight.
It was obvious to me that Sammy was not carrying the agreed sum as he easily walked away, which led me to believe that if I had what he wanted it might have been my last day breathing the stale air of the city.
“Nose’ll contact you.” Sammy sauntered off into the darkness of the river’s edge. In a second the black haze and mist covered him and I no longer could recognize his form.
I breathed a sigh of relief. Dealing with Sammy was never pleasant and often ended more abruptly and with turmoil.
“Sammy,” I called into the fog. “I’ll be waiting.”
There was no answer.
Three days later there was a tap on my door. I peeked out through the keyhole. Two young boys – I guessed one to be about ten or twelve and the other about five or six years old. I cracked open the door. “Yeah?”
“Nose sent us with this note.” The taller one handed me a folded piece of paper.
I took the note and closed the door. The penciled scribbles read. My sister’s kids, you baby sit young one and send the other back. After we go shopping I will send the one back with your baby sitting payment, then you return both kids. “Sheesh.” I pulled open the door and the two kids were still standing there. “Come in.”
The two entered my one room flat and stood by the door. “You,” I pointed at the little one. “Sit over there by the table.”
He said not a word but moved slowly to the side chair. The older one stood in front of me.
Below the scribbled note I printed: Thank you. I hope you find shopping at the old mill a restful and rewarding adventure. I really love the old storage bin in the back. I folded the note and handed it to the taller boy. “I’m baby sitting your brother.”
The older boy opened the door and was gone.
“You and I kid.” I tried to tease the young man. However, he looked straight ahead.
We sat staring at each other for over an hour; then there was a knock on the door. Again, I looked through the keyhole. A young woman was standing with her hand on her hip.
“Yes?” I said, trying to be more polite.
“I come to pay the babysitter.” She squatted and tried to speak through the keyhole. Then,
stepped in when I opened the door.
The young boy immediately stood and walked toward her. She took his hand and handed me an envelope.
I opened it; five crisp bills were folded inside. “Thanks.”
She turned and left the apartment.
I peeked out my curtain and watched the two visitors saunter down the street.
The envelope cracked open. “I can pay the rent.” I turned off my lamp and the room got pitch black. Then, I knelt by my bedside. “Lord, forgive me my methods. For tomorrow I will have to tunnel into the old cathedral for new supplies. I really hate doing this, but since the church is outlawed it is the only way I can make a living selling Bibles.”
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