By Michael Morgan
Copyright 2016 All Rights Reserved
— 15 —
“That was mighty fine Emma,” Marty pushed back from the table.
Emma smiled as she picked up the kids’ plates, “It was just cans.”
“Not just anyone can make a bunch of random cans taste that good,” agreed Tom.
Setting the plates in the wash bucket, Emma looked at Marty, “Where will you go from here?”
“Tom says I should head south to the coast, and wait things out,” Marty picked up his coffee and sipped. “I’m just not sure about that idea.”
“Being the new man in a small town won’t be a picnic,” Tom agreed. “But it beats being drafted into a conscript army or FEMA work camp all to Hell.”
Emma started washing and spoke over her shoulder, “Where did you get the army idea?”
“The people were being sorted by age at that roadblock in Montgomery,” Tom poured himself some coffee. “I’d bet a lot of those older folks won’t be with us come spring time.”
“Were you always this paranoid?” Emma stacked the second plate on the rinse pile.
Tom shrugged, “Think what you want. An awful lot of Black people were ‘evacuated’ and ‘resettled’ in other communities after hurricane Katrina. That didn’t happen after hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey. Ever wonder why?”
“People in New Jersey probably had jobs and pull,” Marty offered.
Emma pressed the button on the spout of the five-gallon Igloo cooler Tom had set up on the kitchen counter, and rinsed the first few plates in the stream before the soapy water could dry. “I don’t see how that is any comparison to what’s happening now. Nobody is being drafted into the Army. It’s silly to think that.”
“Then why separate family members?” Tom set his cup down. “It only makes sense in one modern context.”
Headlights flashed through the living room curtains followed by another flash and another as the engines became audible.
“Out the back!” Tom snapped. “Marty get them to your truck. If I’m not there in an hour, drive away.”
Emma set the plate on the counter and Tom bolted for the front door, “Tom?”
“Go! Before they get around back!” Tom was unbarring the front door as the vehicles came to a stop on the lawn.
“Jeremiah! Caroline! Follow Marty!” Emma was ushering everyone out as Tom pulled open the front door and stood silhouetted in the headlights.
Shading his eyes Tom called, “Bob? Is that you?”
Jeremiah pushed the small ball of dirty cloth through the revolver’s chamber with the chewed end of a pencil, catching it when it dropped from the hole at the front of the cylinder. He repeated the process with the next chamber, “We ran hard, and Marty was good as his word. He drove us out of there with nothin’ but what was in our pockets.” He raised the pistol in emphasis.
“So where did you go?” The end of the cigarette briefly illuminated Andre’s face in a demonic glow.
Jeremiah chuckled, “Where didn’t we go? We were all over the place. A week here. A day there. Anywhere Marty and Mama could find work. I guess we were like the Joad family.”
“Don’t sweat it. Folks from a book I read,” Jeremiah picked up each cartridge and examined it before sliding it back into a chamber and closing the cylinder. “We finally got caught in Arkansas. Guess we moved too far north. Marty drove around a curve in the mountains and right into a roadblock.”
Andre took another drag, “Didn’t you try to get away?”
“Marty tried to back up,” Jeremiah nodded. “And they shot him through the windshield. Mama tried to talk to them, but they put a taser on her and dragged her off. We never saw Mama after that.”
“Sounds like I heard this story before,” Andre said through the smoke as he exhaled.
Jeremiah nodded, “Caroline and I were ‘old enough’, so they shipped us here.”
“So where’s your sister?” Andre took another drag.
“Walked in front of a bus the first week we were here,” Jeremiah looked at the floor for a moment.
“Man, I’m sorry.” Andres leaned forward as if to reach out, but Jeremiah sat back out of reach.
“No need to be sorry,” Jeremiah shrugged. “It was ten years ago. After we got caught, Caroline just gave up.”
Andre stubbed out the butt and changed the subject, “How’d you get a gun inside?”
“When all a shellshocked kid has is the clothes on her back and a ripped-to-shit teddy bear, people don’t search too hard,” Jeremiah smiled grimly as he slid the gun into his pocket.
This ends Three Righteous Souls. Thank you for reading, and I hope you have enjoyed the story. Jeremiah Pitts will be appearing in future stories in the ‘Yojimbo’ collection I am currently writing.