Saturday, August 16, 2008

BIG MONEY, Chapter 54

The low black sky is a comfort to Max, the rain and thunder his oldest friends. It is the stark and glaring white sun that unnerves him. Days like today when the cloudless blue sea above has no depth and no spirit, the wind no taste. As if all life had abandoned the planet.

“Get in here and drive this God damn car,” Bluefish says. “There’s nothing wrong with you.”

Boss was never a compassionate man. Much too self-centered, unthinking about others. But two nights in jail make him cranky like circus animal. Cage crazy. “Very sick, boss. Very bad stomach. What Jerry call squirting’ dir--”

“Enough,” Bluefish says. “We’ll stop and buy you some diapers. Now get in the God damned car or you’re fired. We gotta pick up Jerry. I can’t fucking believe you’re afraid of that spic bartender.”

Max sighs. Big-time asshole, what Bluefish is. Sitting in his gas-sucking Chevy Suburban. Shouting orders at Max who could break him into parts. Boss should know Max isn’t afraid. Boss should respect Max’s better knowledge of natural forces.

Today, the sky so pure and empty; today is a day for staying home, not for confronting enemies.

“Okay,” Max says. “But give me one minute.”

“No. Wait!”

Max shuts door in his room.

Inside a cigar box under his bed, his fingers clutch a sharp, hand-hewn arrowhead of flint attached to a thin leather necklace. The familiar rough skin of the stone makes him close his eyes and remember the night his father presented him with a very special gift.

Slowly, using unusual ceremony, his father lifted the rock necklace over his head and placed it around Max’s neck. “Thousands of years ago,” said his father, “this arrowhead belonged to a wise and experienced hunter. A man with special knowledge. Carry it when you face danger, Max. The rock has a spirit inside that will protect you.”

Three days after his father gave him the arrowhead, Max’s father was dead. Killed by lions. Did the world’s strongest man die because he gave Max the ancient rock? Something Max always wonder.

“Max, God damn it!”

Bluefish calls him from hallway.

Max stuffs the arrowhead in pocket of his jeans. Logic tells him no rock, even such an old and perfectly carved one, can protect Max from bullets.

But why would his father lie? And besides, like Jerry says, it can’t hurt.

“I’m coming,” Max says.

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