The cold November rain disliked Bobby Green so much that it brought along a harsh friend, wind. The two focused more on Bobby Green’s bent head and face than the thin jacket he wore or the rest of him. The street he walked on was as gray as the day, gray and bleak as Bobby Green’s thoughts.
When he got to the corner of Marshall and Fitzwater, he eased his head up to look in each direction. His eyes showed concern, fear. Quickly he moved up Marshall, a narrow back street. When he got to the vacant lot, he paused. He paused to watch a soaked alley cat dart around debris and mud puddles, its dark hair matted and sticking up here and there just as Bobby’s was.
Bobby darted across the lot, leaped for the bar, and began to climb the light pole. Once on the backyard fence, he tight-rope walked the top to the second floor roof, then hauled himself up onto it and he was there. He was in front of two separate windows to a run-down flat, in a run-down building.
Though he kinda felt it, his mind absorbed the warmth. Heat radiated from inside. As he stared, he heard the sounds–two, no three: music, the whack of hands, and low grunts. He was going to knock, but he didn’t, only stared on, wet faced, through wet glass.
There was a rough hole knocked out on the leak-stained ceiling. There was a rope attached to the wooden beam, and swinging from it is a patched-up leather body bag. It was being hit by a handsome figure with short, pushed-back, blond hair, wearing a soiled T-shirt and baggy pants. Blue, blue eyes were blazing with rage as the person pounds away.
A large old radio beats out an up-beat tune in time with the wallop of landed blows upon the leather. Bobby’s eyes widened, seeing blood begin to show through the dirty hand wraps the pounder wears. With a hard left hook, the pounder’s hips jerk, and the pounder sees Bobby’s reflection in the side of an old toaster on a nearby table.
A grin slowly cuts across the pounder’s face, yet the pounder doesn’t acknowledge Bobby’s presence. Suddenly, the wind whips up. Bobby tried the window, pulling hard, but it wouldn’t give. Quickly he goes to the other window. The pounder grins more but keeps throwing punches. At the other window, Bobby’s face strains, pulling and pulling…..then the window shoots up and Bobby flies backwards with a yell. He just catches the edge, the rain gutter, and dangles there.
Sky is at the open window now. “Ya shoulda used the door, noodle brain.”
“Give me a hand. I’m, I’m…..”
“I ain’t getting wet. Either climb up or drop in the mud.” Sky’s smile broadens, hearing the grunts and groans as Bobby slowly pulls himself up. Sky remembers the round face, brown curvy hair and large round eyes, the way Bobby looked as a child along with the funny faces he was making now. Sky turned from the window, seeing that he was making it, and began unwrapping the soiled wraps.
“Shut the window.”
“Oh yeah, Sorry.” Bobby was in now.
“Why the roof, kid?” Sky asks, but he knows, has heard things.
“Mean Louie lookin’ for me. Ain’t ya heard what happened ain’t ya?!”
Sky didn’t answer, instead went to the old small fridge, took out an orange juice bottle filled with plain water.
“It wasn’t my fault, I swear, Sky.” Bobby went on. By Sky’s expression he knew Sky had heard about it. “All me and Maggie was doin’ was having a beer, and, and…..”
“Why the Ward Club? You know it’s Mean’s place and Saturday night, too, when Mean’s the most drunk, him and those scumbags he controls.”
“I know, I know. We was sittin’ on the school yard steps, next thing I know she was thirsty. Mean’s place was right around the corner. Sky, Sky, I didn’t, I mean Maggie didn’t even look his way. He comes right over and starts, puts his hands on her, Maggie…..Maggie was dating his brother. She dumped ‘em.”
“What ya expect, him drinking in front of those guys, creeps.”
“Sky, he’s gonna get me. He’s already been around my house, pushed my old man around.”
“You cut ‘em bad with the beer bottle, Bobby,” Sky’s voice softened. “Maybe you better hide out down in Atlantic City.”
“Hide out? I just got the job at the Daily News, a union job. It’s all I got, Sky. Sky, you can straighten it out. You–”
“Not me, kid, Those stories you heard ’bout me are bull. You better–”
“No, no. Why me, why always the little guy? The nobody’s gotta run, get killed. That’s what he’s gonna do, Sky, bury me, for, for bustin’ his head in front of his guys, for standin’ up for myself. Sky, you gotta help. Please, Sky, plea–”
“Shut up! You hear me, shut up!”
Bobby backed until his wet jacket hit the wall and he slid to the floor, bowing his head in silence. Sky moved to a chair by the table, sat, and stared at him for some time…..
“Go find out where he is.”
“I mean Mean’s, go see if he’s at the club.”
“He’s always there.”
“I said, go see. Afterwards steal a car and another license plate. Park the car up Climber Street and come back here, through the window,” Sky pointed.
“You’re gonna do it? Help? You’re gonna…..” Bobby swallowed.
“Just like I said, and fast “.
Bobby stood, looked at Sky sitting there quiet and easy-like, thinking. It was true; the stories he’s heard growing up, about Sky and the mob….. Slowly he backed for the window, turned, yanked for the ledge and was gone.
[ to be continued ]
By: George Martorano