“Why you crying boy?”
“He said he wasn’t going to pay me. Said I was a liar and a cheat.”
Grandpa was quite for a moment. Just sit there rubbing his chin. Then he said, “You boys get in the truck. I’ll be there directly.”
We did. Sit there wondering what we were waiting for. Where we were going. Seemed like forever.
Grandpa finally come out of the house and eased down the front porch steps. Stopped, pulled his britches up a hitch and adjusted the fedora on his head. Then he strolled over to the Chevy pickup with that trademark gait. Those that didn’t know him might have thought it a swagger. Us that did knew it was cause his artificial leg was a bothering him.
He opened the door, told me to scoot over and he laid the model 10 Smith on the dash like it was a pair of fence pliers. I’d seen the pistol before. Shot it. Never seen it on his dash or even out in public except at the farm. Never seen it treated like it might be needed.
The truck started and we pulled out on the road. Grandpa never said a word. Even when we pulled on to Uncle’s long driveway that led to his mansion-like house. A house fitting of a politician. Seeing how he was one, that made sense.
Pa stopped the truck in front of the garage door, put the shifter in park but left the motor running. He turned to my cousin and told him, “Go get your money.”
My cousin was two years older than me and two years braver to boot. Still, he looked a little frazzled. He got out and slowly walked down the long concrete walk lined with pots full of blooming flowers and trimmed hedges.
Grandpa just sit there, hat pulled low, hand on the wheel, looking out the driver’s window at the front door. I was watching too. The storm door opened and a hand poked out. In it was a 20 dollar bill as crisp as the summer sky. Cousin took it, the door slammed shut and he walked back to the truck. Smiling.
Not a word was spoken on the drive back. The three of us there on the bench seat of the old Chevy like strangers on a bus.
Back in the driveway at Grandpa’s house, he got out of the truck, tucked the model 10 in his belt and shut the door. He asked me if I had any chew and I fished a worn pouch of REDMAN out of jeans pocket. As we bailed out the other side Granpda said, “Don’t bother mowing his yard anymore,”
My cousin didn’t. I never offered.
Looking back, and knowing what I know now, I figure Grandpa called up his daughter’s husband and had a talk with him while cousin and I were waiting in the truck. It was probably more of a scolding than a talk. That left no need for Grandpa to get out of the truck or say anything when we pulled up in the driveway. It also explains why there was a $ 20.00 bill ready behind the door too.
Grandpa left many impressions on me. That was just one of them. Even though he only went as far as third grade he was a successful business man and was a member of the Board of Education. Hell, they even named a library after him. Never mind the moonshine he moved during prohibition or the whiskey he drank for a while afterwards. He believed in hard work and doing the right thing. He made mistakes too. Voted for Nixon but never liked talking about it.
As for my Uncle, didn’t care much for him before that and cared even less for him afterwards. For that and other reasons.
Come to thank of it. He kinda jaded my view of politicians in general. Wish Grandpa was still here maybe he could call up those folks in Washington. I figure we could all benefit from what he could teach ’em.