A FEW CASUALTIES SO WHAT

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Chapter 26

Ten a.m. Was enough time for bright eyes and a clear head. Mert’s didn’t serve breakfast,

but they did prep for the noon lunch crowd. Pone entered the establishment without the

dagger stares, unlike the last time. The employees were setting up the tables and food in

the kitchen. Ella spotted Pone and motioned him for the private talk at the back wall corner.

Pone sat facing the door while Ella brought a cigarette and an ash tray to the table.

Like a true waitress, she also had two mugs and a pot of coffee flanked by cream. Pone

smelled the cream, it was french vanilla. Ella stuck the cigarette in her mouth and poured,

then sat down. Pone shook his head, he was ignorant to think that the crucifix wearing

woman was a smoker: yellowish eyes, leathery skin, and black lips were all signs of being

a tobacco kisser. Though in her defense she was under stress: a minimum wage job, dealing

with the death of two family members of violent crimes and worrying about life it self in

her case probably thinking what else could go wrong.

“What happened to the no smoking policy?” asked Pone.

“I’ll Febreeze before customers come in,” said Ella blowing smoke through her nostrils. She

sat with her thick legs crossed and looked at Pone wondering why he hadn’t touched his coffee. Ella

sipped hers and smiled. Pone was always cautious about drinking anything from a potential enemy. He

heard a story about an employee telling other co-workers that the morning coffee tasted funny. Soon

after, management placed a hidden camera in the break room. The camera showed a disgruntled

employee making coffee with his urine. The employee was fired and was ordered by the court to clean

building restrooms for a whole year. Pone added the french vanilla taking a sip, shrugged as if to say I’ll

live.

“Mister Pone, I ain’t that kind of person. Must be tough to live the life you live.”

“I wouldn’t recommend it.”

Ella took a puff of smoke followed by a sip of coffee. Pone had a bad memory of how the

combination smelled when talking to a woman who had done the same, he leaned back so that he

would not have the same experience.

“Okay . . . here we are,” said Ella.

“”You know where Roland might be held up?” asked Pone.

Ella made a face as if it hurt to think. “I ain’t no expert on how the criminal mind works. Don’t know

or care where he is,”

“This is important.”

“Better be glad I got some God in me.”

Here we go with that old time religion, thought Pone.

“Since you say he ain’t no-where inside the city . . . the only place I can think of is a house my

grandparents built in Rock Hill.” She took a longer sip of coffee. “Ever heard of it?”

Pone nodded. Rock Hill was a poor farming community for blacks before the meteor made it

obsolete.

“My grandparents and parents lived there all their lives, but wanted us kids to get out of the farming

business and here I am waitin’ on tables.”

Pone freshened his cup and leaned back against the wall. He knew he was about to hear a sad song

with-out the harmony. Thank God it wasn’t rap.

Ella leaned and slurped a mouthful of coffee. “That land ain’t fertile no more since that big rock

passed by. Turn that land into a planet rock. Now the name Rock Hill suits it.”

Pone watched Ella pour herself another cup of java to help her reminiscence back to a time that was

anything but perfect to a present life that was basically no better.

Ella finally finished her smoke to the delight of Pone. “People like me still go to church to worship

God.” She shook her head. “Others worship a piece of rock . . . fools,” She looked into Pone’s eyes.

What beautiful eyes, she thought with a slight smile that didn’t last long, after all the man did kill her

son. Ella was unaware that Pone put her cousin Wanda down as well, she figured Wanda was murdered

over drugs.

“I know you ain’t come here to hear me ramble, Roland’s black ass is probably hiding out in that

raggedy, rotting spider-infested house. Might even have snakes now and Roland’s the biggest snake

there is living there.”

She pursed her lips. “Ain’t no more neighborhoods, so it should be easy to find. About a two, three-

hour drive. Look for a big dead oak tree, a dead house on dead land.” Ella sighed and leaned forward .

Pone took that as his cue to leave.

“Mister Pone,”

Pone stopped in his tracks.

“I can forgive . . .just can’t forget. Whatever you do to Roland, I won’t hold it against you.”

Pone looked over his shoulder tipping his hat and walked away.

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