“Got anymore of that tar you call coffee? I need all I the help I can get today. The baby was crying all night with some kind of belly ache. This is the third one, Tom, and I don’t know how we do it.”
Tom placed the cup of coffee in Jim’s free hand as Jim put his mailbag down on the front steps. Three.
“So are we rich today? Remember our deal. If you win I get ten percent and vice-versa. That money would be a godsend right now. Babies are an expensive past time. And I gotta confess, sometimes I envy you. No kids. Freedom. A big house with a yard… ”
Tom took out his notebook as Jim walked into the kitchen for a spoon of sugar from the table.
“No, I guess not. If you had won, you’d probably be in Paris by now. He-he. The wife wants to retire there. If she’d only seen the Paris I saw in the war. I don’t know Tom. The pastor says money’s the root of evil and I can understand the idea but, it sure seems that a little ‘evil’ would be good right about now with the new baby and all.”
Jim blew the steam off the coffee. He held it and looked for the hundredth time at the assortment, the ‘gallery’ he called it, of clippings taped across the white refrigerator.
“No sign of that little girl yet. Rome used to be different. Used to be safer and quieter. For some reason, I keep thinking of her. It’s odd. But what really gets at me is what that girl won’t ever have. You know? When I was her age I had so many dreams. I wanted to be a, and don’t laugh at this, a sailor. Honest to god. A sailor. Even though there’s no water around here for miles and miles. I wonder what that little girl dreamt about…”
Jim put the empty cup in the sink. Washed out the inside with faucet water and picked up his blue mail bag.
“Well thanks for the coffee, Tom. See you tomorrow. Its gonna be a hot one today, over 90 again.”
Ninety. Nine-zero. Zero-nine.
The screen door slammed behind Jim as he walked away, and Tom listened for Sylvia’s voice in the emptiness of their house.