In a Loop

“Why thank you kindly. You’re a good man, I can tell. You never know where you’re gonna meet a good man. I was coming back from a job up in Minesota when I was about your age. Maybe a little older. Anyway, I had lost almost all my money and I wanted to save what was left, so I just hopped trains.

“I got off a freight in Lousiana and I saw a man laying in a ditch. He was all beat up, could hardly breathe, dying almost dead. I got closer asking ‘Hey mister, are you okay?’ which was a dumb question, if I ever heard one. And he said to me, I’ll never forget, he said: ‘They let me outta prison, son. I done spent ten years there, down in Fresno. I did my time.’

“‘Mister, I gotta get you to a doctor,’ I said

“‘No, it’s too late for that. Listen. I done stashed my loot. I have it here now,’ he was holding an old carpet bag, ‘Please, you gotta do this for me. This one thing,’ he said, ‘Take this bag to my wife and my two boys. They be all grown up by now.’ And then he went ahead and died. But he managed to tell me the name of his wife and the town. Martha Jackson, Carthage, Louisiana.”

“So did you keep the money?”

“Hell no. If I done kept it, would I be in this shithole right now? No offense. Like I said, you never know where you will meet a good man.”

“Why don’t you have another beer. This one’s on me too.”

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