Monday, December 7, 2009
“Turn right here and the second street to the left. There is a bar on the right. Turn right into the drive way and go to the back. I live upstairs over the bar.” Hazel was sandwiched in the middle between Hand and Billy Ray. The three or them were packed into the pickup. It made the sharp turns easier to hold onto her seat. It was a good thing. She seemed to have gone into a trance, showing no emotion. “Right here, right here.”
Hank turned into the driveway and jerked the gear shift into low gear and gave the pickup too much gas.
“Where you going?” Hazel snapped out of her daze. “Pull under the stair case. Leave the driveway open. Others have to get in and out.” She seemed irritated all of a sudden. “Come on let’s get up and inside.”
The steps could not have been original. The bar and apartment was a wooden structure with many repairs added over many years. The stairs looked like they belonged in the French Quarter. Rust covered them completely but you could see the intricate wrought iron work was from the Spanish style. The Spanish had almost as much influence on the style of architecture in the French Quarter as the French. The rails seemed out of place here. Hank felt the same way. How did he and Billy Ray get here much let Why were they here?
“What are we going to do now?” Billy Ray was looking first at Hank and then to Hazel. Both boys ended up looking at Hazel waiting for some kind of response.
“How the hell do I know? Hell, I don’t even know who you two are. You come waltzing in the place and don’t even know what you want to order. You sit down and boom, the next thing I know you’re sticking your nose in where it don’t belong and this black man probably kills Ramone.
“I thought his name was Raol “
“Hell no, Ramone was Raol’s brother. Either way it ain/t going to be good. If he,,he killed him the law is going to be after us. Probably will be anyway. If they ain;t Raol is meaner than the law. He is mixed up with them somehow anyway. Some kind of contract enforcer or something or another. Ain;t no way this is gonna come out good. Damn. I don‘t even know your names except what ya‘ll were hollering at each other on the way over here” Hazel dark eyes were in full blaze.
“I’m Hank and this is Billy Ray. We kind of grew up together. At least in the same town. Not much other than that. We just came down here to pick up some soy bean seeds for the man we both work for. We didn’t mean to intrude but it was just a natural reflex when we though someone was hurting you. It could have been anyone, and we would have acted the same. I am sorry if we made thing bad for you. Really.”
“I don’t know what happened, exactly, either. I went out with Raol a couple of times. Nothing serious. I am not even sure he is interested in me or any woman. He was always fairly polite and, well just kind of plain. Not much conversation but always serious. Ramone, the one you say is Billy Ray hit with the barstool ,asked me several times to go out and I always turned him down. I guess that he decided today to take a new approach. If you could spring for a couple of bucks, I can run down stairs and get a few beers. They have sandwiches too, it either of you is still hungry.”
Hank gave her a ten and she shut the door and clanged down the Spanish wrought iron steps. He wondered if that would be the last they saw of her.
As far as efficiency apartments go, this one was exceptionally large. Some of the older buildings were built with the second floor for lodge halls or banquet rooms for the primary businesses on the ground floor. They were just large open space rooms. It looked like this might have been one of those situations with changes made to lay out an apartment. A kitchen was on one end and a bathroom had been added in the corner of the same end of the apartment. A series of dark oval braided rugs were laid out to get maximum coverage over clear yellow pine boards which were used predominately throughout the south. A sofa and three mismatched stuffed arm chairs were arrange to separated a sitting area from the dining table and four straight ladder back wooden chairs that comprised the eating area. Hand and Billy Ray had never seen such an assortment of beads and flowered cloth used in decorating a house. They had lived fairly simple lives. The opposite end of the apartment was laid out for the sleeping area. There were no bed frames but two set of mattresses were neatly arranged with a folding screen making a division between the two bedroom areas.
“I don’t know about all this Billy Ray. I think me and you have gotten ourselves off the reservation a bit.” Both of them were fairly active trying to satisfy their curiosity of the surrounding. “The lights must go off a lot down here because of storms. I never seen so many candle as she has sitting around. Looks to me like, she might burn the place down on top of herself.” Billy Ray did answer. He was standing in front of a dresser or table object that appeared to have a black table cloth draped over it. He was just standing there with his hands by his side. “What are you doing there Billy Ray?” There still was no reply. Hank walked over to look around Billy Ray and see what his amusement was.
A small wooden box was open sitting in the middle. A small leather bag lay in front. It was open and had spilled some coins and a small blue crystal along with several bleached bones onto the table. There were several cards not similar to the one they were used to playing with in the back of T.J.’s Texaco. An unusual map with drawing not familiar to either one of them was sitting underneath a candle and one corner of the box. A small black doll and stack of feathers were obscured from view behind the open lid.
“Hank, what the hell is all that?” Billy Ray’s face could not hide the distrust and uneasiness he was feeling