The two men landed on the drizzling sidewalk minutes later and held up for a moment under an awning. Aloysius, thinking again of the phone call, inquired, “Do you have a hot date tonight?”
“I’m staying in.”
“No company, then?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“A room maid,” he confessed.
“What? Are you sleeping with building staff, now?”
Omar hemmed. “I know. I’m breaking one of my cardinal rules: Don’t shit where you eat.”
Aloysius chided him. “You’re getting sloppy in your old age.”
The lawyer shrugged indifferently. “She’s new to the building.”
“About a week.”
“Is money changing hands?”
“No,” grunted Omar.
“So it’s a relationship?”
He was blasé. “I would characterize it as recklessness.”
Aloysius gasped, “Why?”
“You’ve slept with half the hookers in Los Angeles and you’re bored?”
Omar looked across LaSalle Street with a philosopher’s resignation. “Biology is forever pulling some cute piece of tail through the water like bait, Ally, tempting guys like us to spill our seed into a river where our bodies cannot follow. Of course, by the time we get to be our age, we know it’s a ruse. By then, that aspect doesn’t much matter anymore. It has become about something else.”
“What in the hell are you talking about?”
The friend turned it another way. “At some point Grasshopper you drink the chalice, even though you know the wine is poisoned. Sometimes the highest virtue—the final virtue—is getting out of your own way.”
In their distraction, neither man saw a boy walk up to where they stood; a flicker of gunmetal caught their attention. The pint-sized felon waved the large pistol at the more intimidating of the two friends, yelping, “Give me you wallet, m’fucker!”
Omar gazed down at the child, looking mostly inconvenienced. In that second another close lightning strike crackled overhead. Aloysius, with his heart lodged halfway up his throat, glanced down the street to see the boy’s shadow fall away as a slow tumbling edifice.
The collected lawyer seized on the provided theatrics to pluck the gun by its barrel from the kid’s shaking hand. Bullets spilled from the opened chamber, following fat raindrops down to clap loudly over grass-sprouting concrete and the felon’s pair of size-four Nikes. The gun was smacked against a telephone pole, tempting more bluster from the sky. The chamber flew off to land between two parked cars at the curb, whereupon the remainder of the revolver was flung over a fence to clang among trashcans and barking dogs.
The philosopher threw his would-be assailant a brittle look on rendering his judgment. “Now go thy way and sin no more, before I drop-kick your scrawny ass back to the Robert Taylor Projects.”
The frightened child scurried off down an alleyway.
Omar gauged the souring weather. He was never one to tarry with goodbyes, so bade farewell to his chum before turning to saunter up the splashing street.
Aloysius was still trembling on his return to his car, but remained elated to have spent time in his friend’s company. Omar was the embodiment of all the strengths the painter did not see in himself, but admired. He was the artist’s link to sunnier yesterdays, and to hope for a better tomorrow.
Perhaps Stonesthrow would offer him a comparable degree of inspiration.
Chapter Three/ Back/ Contents Page
Copyright © 2007 Michael Teague. All rights reserved.