"So where we going to be staying Chosen? What do I need to bring?"
I looked around his house but before I could say it he laughed and told me "Not going be here. The bank is coming for this place any day now."
So I told him about where I was staying and a little bit about Sharon. I didn't tell him she was Black too. I couldn't think of any way of saying it really. Plus it shouldn't matter. HE didn't care what color you were so why should I mention it. I was beginning to wonder if HE was Black too because this recruiting thing sure seemed to be trending that way. I consoled myself knowing if that was the way it was going to be we would eventually end up recruiting a couple of guys who go do all kinds of athletic stuff. That would probably come in handy.
He listened pretty good Roy did. He didn't ask a bunch of questions. When I finished he said "Okay. I got it." I was kind of surprised about how calmly he was taking all this because I wasn't seeing any sign of him being weirded out about going to live in a foreclosed house. So I asked him that. His reply was "What do you think I'm living in now?"
I thought about it and replied "Yeah. You got a point."
"Well Chosen" He told me. "I'm going to go pack up my bag. I'm going to take my car with me, it's paid for, and then we can roll on out of here."
"Roy. You got a Bible I can read while you do that?"
"Yeah. I got my wifes. Probably a good idea to bring that."
He disappeared for about ten minutes reappearing with a worn black one with Holy Bible in gold stamped on the front. He handed it to me and said "Take me about an hour. Help yourself to what ever you need" and he was gone. I listened to his slow steps go up the stairs and pondered the cover of the Bible. I always wondered why they had "Holy Bible" in big gold letters on the front like this. Why did they do that? Did somebody think you were going to mistake it for a phone book? Did it make it holier?
I opened it up and knew she had spent some time reading it. I thumbed through the pages to a photo of all three of them standing together. Roy, his wife who weighed at least twice as much as him, and their son. They were all grinning for the camera. I flipped it over. Nothing on the back. She hadn't needed it. She probably looked at it and remembered how the day smelled, what the weather was like, and everything her son had said. Roy looked a lot younger then even though it couldn't have been that long ago. His son was dressed in regular people clothes but he still looked like a soldier. "HIS LAST LEAVE" went through my head. Yeah. Funny how you get your picture taken all grinning not knowing what is coming. I stared at it really hard. Sometimes I thought I could see the shadows sneaking up on people in photographs. Faint smudges of pain just biding its time. I didn't see anything on this one. I stuck it back in the book and went looking for a random verse.
I don't know how long Roy took. It didn't seem that long before I heard him hollering for me. I went to the foot of the stairs and looked up. He had a suitcase next to him and a light bag across his bony shoulder. "You want to give me a hand with this?" I went up the stairs and grabbed hold of his suitcase and dragged it down the stairs. It was heavy. I thought it probably weighed as much as he did. We ended back up in the kitchen where he looked around slowly. I thought he was taking a last look. Instead he said "I'll get some boxes from downstairs. We can take what is left of the food too."
He came back with the boxes and a red five gallon plastic gas container. He held on to the door frame for a second breathing a little heavy. "I hate all these stairs." Then he pushed off the door frame and dropped the boxes at my feet and went out the front door. I started opening up cabinets and putting what I found in the boxes. I could see out the kitchen window to the street and I saw him park the car on the curb. He popped the trunk but didn't get out. Instead he just sat there, windows down, looking at the house.
When I had found everything I thought there was to find I began toting the boxes out to the car. I had managed to fill one box and part of another. It dosen't sound like much but it was more canned foods, dry noodles, and spices which I had no idea what you used them for in one place in awhile. I mean in one place where I had a reasonably good chance of eating them. I wasn't sure what turnip greens tasted like but the lady on the can looked friendly.
It took four trips before I was done. Roy stayed in the car the entire time until I came out with his luggage. I was okay with that. I just hoped he didn't die on me while he was driving. You never knew with old people when they were going to keel over. You just knew it could be anytime. He watched as I grunted with the effort of getting the suitcase up and into the trunk. I shut the trunk and said "That's it!" I had put STAFF in the backseat with one end poking out the window. As I had stuck it in back I imagined STAFF sniffing the breeze so I made sure the top was the part sticking out. Roy had done one more thing with STAFF that I really liked. He had attached a silver skulls head to the end of the staff. Skull was grinning. Probably in anticipation of the ride I thought.
"One more thing before we go Chosen."
"I want you to help me burn my house down."
I thought about it an asked him "You sure?"
"Hell yes! Screw the bank. Screw my asshole neighbors too. You know one of them asked me a year after she had died where my wife was?"
I shrugged and told him "I guess you should have had a yard sale."
Roy was staring at me so I decided maybe he didn't understand. "You know. That is the only time I used to talk to mine. When they were selling stuff in the front yard. That's usually when I found out that they were moving and what their names were."
"Yeah. Still....well you pour the gas. Go on inside and splash it around. Leave a trail to the door and hold on to the can. I'll light her off." He added in a quiet almost gentle voice "Well Son. We can't throw stones at the place can we?"
So I did as he asked. When I came out he was standing their. He startled me a bit. It was like he had swelled and straightened up while I was gone. His face was a mask and the mask wasn't smiling. He reminded me of a giant eagle watching an unaware mouse.
"Put the can in the car up front. You can toss it when we are down the road."
I stood there. He wasn't looking at me. I shrugged and walked to the car and did as he said. Then I stood by my open door and watched him. After a couple minutes he struck a kitchen match and tossed it to where I spilled the last bit of gas by the front door. The fire flared up, looked back at us, and raced inside. Roy turned slowly and walked to the car. I got in when he did. He turned the key and we pulled away. He didn't look back.