The security changes I initiated made me feel better. Hell carrying Jed made me feel better about waiting in the middle of the night to meet strangers carrying guns. It was a long month before there were any significant changes in my personal life.
The first came one morning when I stopped at the Down Home Diner for breakfast. Jewel came over to the table smiling. “You know you are going to have to do something new to stand out. Your tricycle scooter is old hat now,” she commented.
“Oh the scooter isn’t to impress anyone. It’s just to get me here,” I said.
“Well, I guess you are for sure getting here in your own style. So what will it be?” she asked.
“Give me an egg biscuit and coffee,” I said.
“You want any jelly with that?” she asked.
“No I’m still dieting,” I replied. I waited till the biscuit was sitting in front of me before I continued. “I know you are off in the afternoons, so would you like to do something one day?”
“Hon, I don’t date customers,” she replied.
“No problem. I knew it was a long shot,” I said. “It wouldn’t have been a real date anyway. I only have the scooter, so we would have had to meet somewhere.
“Well since you put it that way, how about a home cooked meal? I’m off on Fridays?” she informed me.
“That sounds good. Can I at least bring something?” I asked.
“Like what?” she asked.
“like a complete Chinese take out. I would hate for you to cook on your day off,” I suggested.
“I really don’t like Chinese, how about Spaghetti from Maria’s?” she suggested as an alternative.
“Okay dinner for how many?” I asked.
“Well I do have a son, if you don’t mind?” she asked.
“Not at all. How old is he?” I asked.
“He is fifteen and in full of hormone mode,” she said.
“I’m not sure what that means, should I bring a lot of extra food,” I asked with a laugh.
“No but bring enough for four in case he wants to invite a friend,” she suggested.
“That would be fine. The more the merrier and I mean that,” I said. I found that I really did mean it. It would make it less awkward for both of us with a buffer.
After breakfast I went home to add the trailer to the bike for Jed. We left almost immediately for our walk along the deserted railroad tracks. Someone probably the railroad company removed the track. It might have had some value as scrap. I know the spikes have value to artisans as black smith’s stock. I know that knives made from Railroad spikes sell for top dollar at craft fairs. That is especially true if the spike can be traced to a particular place.
All that ran in the back of my consciousness as Jed and I walked along the roadbed. Since I had gained a couple of pounds lately, I needed the exercise. As usual Jed got all the attention. Guys gave him a wide birth, but the ladies were almost all attracted to him. He looked dangerous, but the old man with him didn’t. Yeah I was jealous of my dog.
“Larry can you make time for us to meet this evening?” Earl asked.
“Sure when and where,” I asked.
“Make it my uncle’s Ned’s house about seven,” he suggested.
“Okay, but I thought Ned wanted to stay out of this business?” I asked.
“We will talk tonight,” Earl said.
I wasn’t exactly worried about the meeting, but I would have admitted to being curious. Since I wouldn’t mind losing the hootch driving gig, I really couldn’t think of any reason to be concerned.
“It is really good to see you again,” Ned said.
“Thanks Ned You are looking good,” I said.
“That’s a lie, but I appreciate it,” Ned said.
“So hows it been going working for Earl?” Ned asked.
“It’s going real good. We had a little problem at first, but it’s all worked out now,” I said. “Speaking of Earl where is he.”
“He is with his mother in the kitchen. I wanted to talk to you alone first,” Ned surprised me with that one.
“Oh is something wrong?” I asked.
“Yes and no,” he said. “Earl is going to close down the still site. He has run there over six months, it’s time to move on. He doesn’t have a good cover there.”
“I see. I guess I’ll miss the job some,” I lied.
“I was hoping you’d say that. Earl needs someone to look after him a little. I was hoping you might be the one,” Ned said.
“I appreciate the vote of confidence, but to be honest I don’t know shit about making liquor,” I said honestly. “To be even more honest I don’t want to know either.”
“Yeah, I figured that, but I want you to be his cover. For that it’s better to have someone who doesn’t know or want to know about the liquor business,” Ned said. “To be really honest, his partner now is my son. Between the two of them they have a lot of schooling, but no common sense.”
“That just takes time,” I said.
“Well I hate to have them doing time, when they get to that point,” he said.
“So what do you want me to do?” I asked. Even as I asked it, I was trying to figure out how best to say no.
“I need you to set up a cover for him at a new place,” Ned said.
“Ned tell me why you are so involved in this thing?” I asked.
“I’m just trying to keep it together. You know give them some good advice. I don’t want to see them doing something stupid,” he said.
“Sorry Ned, I don’t want to be more involved with them. To them I’m just a retired delivery driver. Frankly, I’m satisfied with that.” I said.
“Look Larry I know you don’t need the money, I also know you got the kind of experience I need,” Ned said.
“You need Ned, or your kid and his cousin need?” I asked.
“We all need. Come on be our front and watch over them. Tell me if they are doing something stupid, and I’ll talk to them,” Ned said to me.