Chapter 22

Copyright© 2015 by Bill Offutt

Bud sat in the living room of the small house in Battery Park and watched his wife nurse their second son. He shook a cigarette out of his crumpled pack of Camels and stuck it in his lips, fumbling for matches.

"Don't," Jeanne said, looking up from her suckling baby. "Don't light it. I quit."

"How come?" Bud asked, putting the cigarette behind his ear.

"Never liked it," she said. "Just did it because you did."

"They doing all right?" He nodded at the babe in her arms.

"Just fine. He weighs almost sixteen pounds now.'

Bud sniffed, not sure whether or not that was a good weight. "Jeanne," he said, "when this job I've got downtown ends, I might not be able to give you what I agreed, maybe for a month or two."

"Yes you will," she said sharply, her mouth a thin line, two creases above her nose.

"But, well, I've been looking, and I can't find a decent job. Things are tough."

"I don't care," she said, "you agreed and you will do it. You don't want my father to go to court do you?"

He shook his head. "Maybe after the election and the Republicans get in, things will get better."

"That's crazy," Jeanne said. "You think that Dewey is going to win?"

"Sure," Bud said, "everybody says so. He even got his picture on Life's cover."

Jeanne put her baby up on her shoulder and flipped her dress closed. "I don't believe it. I sure wish I could vote. Mr. Truman would get my vote, that's for sure."

"Mine too, if I was old enough," Bud said. "We both can vote in the next election."

"Have you talked to the people at VA?" Jeanne asked, patting her small son's back.

Bud nodded and the shook his head. "They don't have a thing. That place is at the bottom of the pile; that's what everybody says. My boss has twenty-some people working under him and he's just a three."

"Is he white?" Jeanne asked, putting her baby once more to her breast.

"Yep, him and me, were about the only ofays in the files."

"The whats?"

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