11,041 vagabonds plus:
another first trip
Boy In A Dining Car
Everytime Billy went away seemed like the first trip to his mother. The same twenty dollar bill was hid in his shoe in case of emergency. But an emergency never occurred in his five-hundred mile traverses. Last time home he had removed the money while sitting on the edge of his bed, noticing the fold brittle and splitting in-between Andrew Jackson's eyes, wondering what the man could see in the distance with one eye.
They would wave to one another, mother smiling in grief from the porch, as his uncle drove away slowly in his truck, searching with a grind for second gear, destination Santa Tessa Train Depot. And when Billy came home she would tell him the little dog cried in the night when he was gone, but Billy's first adult thought ever told him it was his mother's cry.
'Good morning, Mister Charlie', he would say each trip at the first breakfast, waiting like a true gentleman, hands clasped behind his back, pretending patience to be seated in a state room, Charlie the waiter wearing an isabelline apron, so pleased to see the young man with the unprejudiced gaze. That's what he called him.
'And a good morning to you, Young Man'.
'I'll take one of everything, Sir', was the joke each trip, on the joke-less train ride to his father's city house where there was a younger woman not his mother that slobbered on him.
'One thing each it shall be, Young Man', Charlie would reply seriously.
'Don't worry. I have a twenty in my shoe if I don't possess enough coin'.
And Charlie would laugh. To hear a black man laugh is a joy he wanted to be a part of, for Billy never heard that lasting mirth that rose in pitch where he came from. It was almost like an inside-joke, one you'd hear if you were alone in a dark nightclub listening to a Dixieland Band rehearse, and they'd stop and share a musical downbeat joke that you knew nothing about but wanted desperately to be a part of. That was Charlie's laugh, and he was so kind, plus Billy thought he smelled like a kitchen.
Charlie would walk away, and Billy would hear him fade away, laughing and saying, 'Young Man, we all should have an extra twenty in our soul'.
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