Louie had a drink waiting for me.
“Don’t mind if I do.”
He nodded. “New hat?”
I removed it and laid it on the bar. “Twelve bucks.”
Louie whistled. “Must be nice.”
“Big money in detective work. Nothing but fur coats and limousines.”
The grin died on his face. “Fat Rico was in asking about you.”
“What did you say?”
“Told him I didn’t know nothing but it looks like he figured it out on his own.”
Fat Rico stood in the doorway.
“Do me another favor, Louie,” I said, nodding at the hat. “Put that somewhere safe, will you?”
The punch fell from the sky like a bolt of lightning, catching me on the forehead and driving me backwards. I laid down, rested my head on the curb, and watched the tops of the buildings. The brickwork looked peaceful up in the sky with the fluffy clouds. I liked it.
“That’s not him, Mikey!” someone said.
“No?” a bigger voice asked.
A hand that matched the bigger voice went into my jacket and took my wallet. “Sorry buddy,” the voice said while the hand took my cash and dropped the wallet on my chest. “Guess I owe you one.”
It was the fire that taught Jeff about miracles. After all, he shouldn’t have been there – Jeff never visited on Wednesdays. “Maybe I’ll see what the old man’s doing,” he’d said and when he pulled into the drive, the house was engulfed.
Reflecting, Jeff doesn’t know if his father would have escaped – so frail was he when Jeff found him, barely visible through the smoke. Jeff’s eyes shimmer. He smiles, grateful. He sees again his hands gripping the skinny ankles, hears anew the screams as he drags his father back into the flames. “Better safe than sorry,” Jeff whispers aloud.