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‘I’m sorry. You don’t know what time Addie’s coming in?’
‘I guess I know, all right, Mr Perry,’ the woman said. She was eyeing his shirt. He looked down and saw a cigarette burn the size of a quarter. ‘Addie’s off today, anyhow,’ the woman said. ‘Monday, you know. You oughta know that by now, Mr Perry.’ She didn’t smile. ‘She works Saturdays so she’s got Monday off, you oughta know that by now.’
He bought a case of beer and some groceries. Walking back to the car, he came across Jud Harmor. Jud saw him first. The old mayor was standing in front of the town hall, hands in his hip pockets, brown shirt and brown cotton pants, the straw hat pushed back on his skull.
‘Been lookin’ for you,’ Jud said.
‘Hey, Jud.’ Perry shifted the groceries to his other arm and prepared to listen.
‘I been lookin’ for you.’
Perry nodded and waited. There was a bright sun on Jud’s face. Under his chin, a large cancer splotch cut down the throat and disappeared under the old man’s shirt. He was lean and tough-looking and sly-looking and he looked like Perry’s father sometimes. At a certain age, all the old men began to look alike.
‘Anyhow,’ said Jud, ‘I been lookin’ for you. Wolff says Harvey’s back.’
Jud nodded, looking up Mainstreet.
‘Came on the bus yesterday,’ Perry said. ‘He called a few days ago – last week.’
Jud nodded, still surveyed the hot street. ‘Guess somebody should’ve told me.’
‘Sorry, Jud. We were just thinking he’d want to ease back in. You know? No big show or anything.’
‘Somebody should’ve told me, anyhow. I should’ve been there.’
Perry nodded. ‘Sorry.’
Jud squinted up the street. There was no traffic. The two lonely dogs were sleeping on the steps of Damascus Lutheran. ‘Anyhow,’ said Jud, ‘I should’ve been there. Harvey being a hero and all.’ He laughed into a cough.
‘Oh, I wouldn’t say he’s exactly a hero, Jud. I wouldn’t say that. He got his eye hurt and that’s about the end of it really.’
‘Shit,’ the old mayor said, ‘you think I don’t know that? Bound to happen sooner or later. Like your old man, you know, same damn thing. Anyhow, he’s gonna want a parade now.’
‘A parade, for Chrissake! I guess he’ll want a parade now, horns and sirens and floats.’
Jud squinted and coughed and shook his head. He brought up a wad of phlegm from his throat, leaned forward and casually spat into the street. ‘Well, ahhhh, I guess you can tell your pa I’ll get that parade arranged. I guess I can do that much.’
‘He’s dead, Jud,’ Perry said carefully.
Jud squinted. ‘Thought he just got himself wounded in the eye?’
‘No, my old man. He’s dead.’
Jud laughed. ‘Shit! You think I didn’t know that?’
Perry grinned. He shifted the groceries again.
‘Anyhow,’ said Jud, ‘you get the word to Harvey, okay?’
Jud coughed and spat a big bubble of mucus into the street. ‘Shit! Wolff says it’s the first thing of Harvey asked about … a parade. Don’t worry, I’ll get it for him, ram it right through, no problem at all.’
‘There’s no need for it, Jud.’
‘Just tell him, son.’ The old mayor sighed. ‘You better get on home then. Groceries there are leakin’ all over you.’ He pushed the straw hat forward. ‘You say hey to your pa, now.’
Perry grinned. ‘Okay, Jud.’
Jud cackled. ‘Your pa’s dead!’
I never said he was crazy, you know.’
‘I know, Jud.’
‘What about your ma?’
‘She’s dead, too, Jud.’
‘Jesus.’ Old Jud spat into the street. ‘Dropping like flies, aren’t they? Well, what about Harvey?’
‘Mother of Mercy.’
‘Don’t let your old man shove you around, you hear me?’
‘Okay, Jud. Thanks.’
‘Not Harvey either.’
‘So long now, Reverend.’
Perry grinned and saluted and started off, then stopped. ‘Jud?’
The old man was staring after him.
‘Jud, you haven’t seen Addie?’
Jud Harmor pulled off his hat to think. His skull was shiny.
‘Addie. The girl who works in the library. You haven’t seen her today?’
‘Addie,’ Jud said, looking about. ‘Newcomer.’
‘A year or so. She works in the library. Just a kid. You call her Geronimo sometimes.’
Jud grinned. ‘Shit, you mean ol’ Geronimo. Some ass, right? Sure, I know her all right. You’re talkin’ about ol’ Geronimo.’
‘You haven’t seen her?’
‘Wish so,’ Jud said. ‘Wish I had. Some ass, don’t you think? No disrespect, Reverend. What you want ol’ Geronimo for?’
‘Nothing. Just looking for her. Thanks, Jud.’
‘Aren’t thinkin’ of converting her? That’d be some awful wasted hunk of redskin ass, I’ll say that.’
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