The two men laughed and drank
The room was the smallest office in the building. And it was probably the only one without air conditioning. But its owner didn’t care much as it had some other valuable qualities. One of them was excellent audibility: he could hear every word in the office above. Somehow he managed to keep it a secret and with some efforts (including the absence of air conditioning and his constant smoking) he made the room unwanted for visitors.
He was now sitting in his chair; his eyes stared blankly at the table. Obviously, the man was deep into his thoughts. There was a conversation that he couldn’t put out of his head and kept recalling it again and again…
“You see, I like it. I like making chairs and tables. My father was a carpenter, my grandfather was a carpenter. Jesus himself was a carpenter! What’s wrong with that, old Jackal?” – A guest drawled with Italian accent.
“My father was a fisherman… I still hate this fish smell… And he used to smoke those cheap cigarettes all the time… Steven smokes them, God damn it! I can’t stand sitting in his room!” – The host’s voice sounded irritated.
“Steven? That’s your first assistant?”
“He is… For now…”
“What? Are you going to fire him? Is he stealing from you? All of them start stealing from you…”
“Stealing? Oh, no, not him. He’s loyal like the goddamn dog! He used to be my security guard. And he used to be good in the high old time… You should remember that story with the farmers in North Dakota.” – The host smiled.
“Was that him?”
“Yeah, he did some seasonal work there, picked fruit or something… My offer was a real stroke of luck for him then! But now there are other good guys… So you are saying they are stealing from you…”
“That is so sad, Jackal! You can’t trust anyone these days; the employer can’t trust the employees, even if they are family… I give them work, I give them flexible working hours, I give them decent pay and they keep stealing from me! Even my barber steals from me. He shaves me and cuts my hair and charges 50$ for that. Isn’t that stealing, I ask you?” – The two men laughed and drank. After some time Steven couldn’t hear anything. The owner of the office downstairs lit a cigarette. He opened a drawer, took out a bottle of whisky but then put it back. He needed to think. He wanted to go upstairs and shoot both - the host and his guest but as a child he learned to be patient…
It took Rose 15 minutes to take a shower. The streams of ice-cold water refreshed her and helped her think.
“Billy is his school mate, so what? My classmate Angie works as a nurse; and when I got to hospital she didn’t even recognize me… But that doesn’t prove anything. I need information!”
She went downstairs. Glenda was waiting for her in the kitchen.
“Ah, there are you, child. Frank is very tired. He has decided to take a nap. The tea is ready. Help yourself to some biscuits!”
“Oh, thank you, Glenda! I saw the photographs on the wall. They are really good!”
“Oh, yes! Frank loves taking photos! Would you like to see some?”
“Oh, sure! That would be great!”
Glenda left the kitchen and soon came back with several photo albums.
“This is my father. He was a mailman. He delivered letters in this area. That’s funny, he never…” – After an hour of family stories Glenda finally opened the last album.
“And that’s Idaho with friends…”
“Oh, let me guess, this is him, right?”
“Oh, no, no. That’s Billy. They used to be good friends at school… Frank was against of course…”
“ Against? But why? He seems to be a nice guy…”
“That’s because of his family… His Mother Gina was a manicurist and his dad was a butcher. He sold meat not far from here. At first his business went well but then he had some problems and had to close down. He was out of work for a long time and started drinking. Billy was about twelve then. And Gina… Her behaviour wasn’t appropriate if you know what I mean… Once Billy’s father caught her with a lover and killed both with a butcher knife… Such a tragedy for a child… He has lived with his aunt since then… but Idaho never left him. He even found a job for him in the company where he works… Oh, isn’t that a sound of a car from outside?! That must be him, Idaho!”