A nephew and uncle try to find out who committed a robbery they've been implicated in.
| “So how you feel ‘bout your man getting killed?” Lil Charles shrugged. “Gon’ be tough setting up a union now, huh?”|
“Now, why the hell would I wanna join a damn union?” Lester shook his head, taking a drink looking at Jesse and Lil Charles. “Them crackas out they damn mind. All they gotta do for me is let me do my job, pay me and leave and leave my black ass the hell alone.”
“But you did more’n just your job, didn’t you?”
Lester, looked over at Lil Charles, the frown he’d been sporting dropping from his face, not missing the hostility in the other man’s voice. “Only did what they tole me.”
“Just go to the meetings and keep track of what they talked about.”
“What about telling’em who was there? You do that too?”
Lester nodded, “Yeah.”
“And then they fired’em? The men who you named. That right?”
Lester looked at his glass, avoiding the other men’s eyes, “I guess so.”
“And you did it too,” Jesse said. “Didn’t you? You tole on’em and they lost their jobs?”
“If I hadn’t, I’da lost mine,” Lester shrugged. “I gotta do for my family any ways I can.”
“Who’d you tell?” Lil Charles asked.
“Couple of the foremen,” Lester shrugged. “There’d be some others there too sometimes.”
“They with the mill too?” Lil Charles asked.
Lester shook his head, “Nah. If’n they was, I ain’t never seen’em around before this union stuff started.”
“Anything else,” Lil Charles leaned forward, elbows resting on the table. “Anything that struck you as odd?”
Lester shrugged absently, then paused as if he were recalling something.
“What?” Jesse leaned forward on his elbows. “What is it?”
“Well, there might be sumthin’.”
Lil Charles shifted in his seat, “What’s that?”
Lester shrugged. “That man.”
“What man?” Lil Charles glanced at Jesse. “What man you talkin’ ‘bout?”
“The one used to be over here askin’ folks to join the union.”
Jesse shrugged. “What about him?”
“He used to be one of’em.”
Jesse and Lil Charles looked at one another, frowning.
Jesse held up his palms, “Whatchu mean, ‘he was one of’em’?”
“I mean, he was one of’em used to be in all those meetin’s with the managers.” Lester took a sip of his drink.
“The union was already holdin’ meetin’s with the mill?” Lil Charles narrowed his eyes. “That don’t make no sense. They haven’t set up a chapter here yet. They need more people on the rolls.”
Jesse shrugged, “How many they need?”
“Accordin’ to those pamphlets he was handing out?” Lil Charles paused, thinking,
“Something like‘thirty percent of all the employees.”
Jesse snorted, “Shit, they ain’t have nowhere near that many. Leastways, not at the meetin’s.”
“Still don’t explain what he was doin’ at the mill,” Lil Charles stared at Lester, not saying anything. “How many times you see him there?
Lester shrugged. “Lots of times.
“What’s ‘lots of times’?” Jesse asked. “Five? Six? Seven? What?”
“More’n that,” Lester took another sip from his glass. “Ten at least but he was prolly there more times’n that. They had me on a different shift for a few weeks so I ain’t see him then. But when I switched back he was there every week just like befoe.”
“Anything else?,” Jesse hunched his shoulders. “I mean, besides the man maybe bein’ some place he shouldn't’ve been?”
Lester shook his head. “Not that I know of. Why don’t y’all get somebody to ask his lady friend?”
“Lady friend?” Jesse and Lil Charles said simultaneously.
“Yeah,” Lester blinked back at them across the table. “She work over at the mill too.”
Lil Charles arched an eyebrow. “What she do?”
“She work over in Accounting.”
“Accounting?” Jesse frowned. “Doin’ what?”
Lil Charles was about to say something smart but Lester’s response drew him up short.
“Payroll,” he looked back and forth between them.
Lil Charles was thoughtful. “Tell me somethin’, they pay y’all by cash or check?”
Lester hunched his shoulder, “Both. A lot of the men don’t wanna go to the bank during they lunch hour or wait to go some place to cash they check so they do it there.”
“If you don’t mind me askin’,” Jesse said, “how many of y’all just go head on and cash y’all’s check there?”
“Pretty much all of us. That’s why they have to keep so much cash there on hand.”
“Now, you heard that or you know that?” Lil Charles said.
“I know it,” Lester gestured animatedly, “You can see the piled up in stacks there on the damn table. You walk up and they hand it to you through the cage. Just like at a bank.”
Lil Charles and Jesse shared a look, a smile spreading across both their faces. “Well that answers that,” Jesse said. “Damn.”
“Not so fast,” Lil Charles tapped the table, looking at Lester, “When’s the last time you seen his woman?”
Lester hunched his shoulder. “Yesterday.”
Lester nodded back at Lil Charles. “Yeah, yesterday was payday. I tole her my name, she called out my name and how much I’m s’posed to get, I signed, she counted out my money and slid it to me through the cage like she always do.”
Lil Charles was silent, processing all he’d heard. He reached in his pocket, pulled out a roll of bills and peeled off a few, slapping them on the table in front of Lester who scooped them up , finished his drink and left. Lil Charles walked to the bar, leaning against it deep in thought.
Jesse walked over, hands in pockets as he approached, shrugging. “Whatchu think?”
Lil Charles shook his head, “Still figurin’.” He looked at the door Lester had disappeared through, shaking his head slowly.
“Maybe nuthin,” Lil Charles said. “I gotta check sumthin’ first.”
Lil Charles turned to look at him, smiling, “And then, we gon see if we can’t figure out a way to set these crackas on to each other and away from us.”
Jesse clucked his tongue. “You make that shit sound easy. Be some kinda trick if you can do it.”
“Nawl,” Lil Charles shook his head. “That gon’ be the easy part.
Jesse hunched his shoulder, “What other part is there?”
“The part where we get hold of that money for ourself.”
“Just that?” Jesse crossed his arms. “I thought you was gonna say something stupid.”
“Well, I still ain’t figured out how we gonna not get killed.”
Jesse frowned. “Think that might be important do ya?”
“I said I was still figurin’,” Lil Charles gestured to the door through which Lester had departed. “The man just walked out the door said a lot. Gimme a minute.”