Antoine ushers me to the living room and has me take a seat while he heads to the back to get the shit. There are two chairs – a straight-back and an easy chair. I take the easy chair.
Two small, dark eyes peer at me. Stalk me. Little four-year-old, broken-armed Angela. She tries to climb into my lap. She thinks I’m the guy, but I’m not. Maybe twenty years ago I would have been. But not now. Not today.
I push her away. She falls to the floor in a heap, hurt and angry now. But she doesn’t cry. She’s used to disappointment. And I’m used to disappointing.
I can’t save you kid. Shit, I want to, but…. I know your dad beats the crap out of you and your mom’s in a shallow grave, but I got problems of my own.
I mean, life’s tough, but kids – kids bounce, you know?
Antoine comes back, takes my money and slips me my package. I don’t even thank him, just bolt out the door. I put the shit in my pocket.
And that’s when I find them. The stones. The three fake jewels that Angela’s always polishing. She snuck ‘em into my pocket, the little rat. Payment? A bribe? I freeze. I should bring ‘em back. But I can’t.
Like I said, I’m not that guy. I got no white horse. I like the easy chair, not the straight back.
At least, not most days.