Noxanne and Wilson, toothpicks hanging from their lips following breakfast at an all-you-can-eat Denny’s in Auburn, had just clomped in. They snickered and elbowed one another.
“Sam don’t have a mood once in a while,” said Noxanne, “he comes to it as regular as I do my monthly.”
“He’s acting like he’s done crawled in a hole and pulled the dirt in over hisself,” said Donnie.
“What brought all this on?” asked Wilson.
Donnie eyed Sam. “Well, first off, he got a good grouch going about Brother Wilding. Claims the reverend’s done him dirty somehow.”
Wilson tossed his toothpick over his shoulder. “It was Wayman Tucker who did that. He tried to shut Sam’s Place down a half dozen times.”
“Then it ain’t got nothing to do with Brother Wilding,” said Donnie.
“Yeah it does, too,” said Noxanne. “Him and Tucker’s so close they might as well kiss.”
An aha moment took Archie. “I guess I ain’t surprised at that. I forgot about our good ol’ chief of police and Wilding being cousins, sumpin like two, three times removed on Wayman’s daddy’s side.”
Donnie glanced to the establishment’s rear, where Sam was drawing a round of beers. An old memory had surfaced, a story Sam had told only once, during an all-night drinking session, a night when Sam had been as snockered as anyone could remember. “Hey, Sam,” he called out, chuckling. “‘Member that gal you hooked up with over in Montgomery? Didn’t you get her knocked up or some such?”
“I ain’t had a kid with nobody,” Sam said, eyes narrowed. “Leastwise, none I know of.” He jabbed a finger at the line of foaming cups. “Y’all have a beer and lock up all the chitchat about something you don’t know a damn thing about.”
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