The note was written in a scrawl
The deck of life had nine cards
Love poker heart blood forgive abandon revenge
The truth card was lost
The last card was unknown maybe it was the future
The fate of each card was delivered in a handwritten note
You have a choice, but don't ignore the note

Chapter 17) River Boy meets Churchail
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Next morning, Grandpa got up and went fishing despite the danger from Cracklin Green's men and Spade.

River Boy left along the rail toward the main highway.
He couldn't use Top Hat's car because it was left behind in Blacktown so he had to hitchhike to Abbeyville.
The first ride got him a couple miles. He was waiting at a farm road junction when the oddest coincidence caused Howard, Maggie's sister's husband to stop to and pick him up, only because Howard recognize the boy that was walking with Maggie the day she got in a fight at the soda shop.
Determined to resolve the question about who he was and what he was doing with Maggie, Howard risked his life and decided to give River Boy a ride.
It was obviously very dangerous to stop for a black man, except River Boy looked white so it was safer.

River Boy jumped in the car. He knew who Howard was and greeted him saying, hello Howard my name's River Boy it's good to meet you, shaking hands.

Howard was surprised by this well-mannered black boy who wasn't really black not that it mattered because both had things to do.
Howard was on his way to Abbeyville to visit a young office worker at the bank for a quick exchange of sweat.
River Boy was on his way to Abbeyville to save Trinity from becoming lost in history.
A meeting of futures you might say that could affect Howard more than getting smeared with a slice of secretary pie.

Howard started off by asking how do you know Maggie?
River Boy was in no mood to feed crackers to a parrot but needed to handle this carefully.
He answered, I know her from school.
Oh are you in the same English class?
That was one little rude comment to demonstrate that he knew River Boy was in dumbbell English.
No, we went fishing together.
Well that was a shock and Howard was pretty sure Joel didn't know either.

River Boy quickly added, I fish with a lot of the kids from high school and their parents too.
That was also news to Howard.
River Boy followed with his own question, want to go fishing sometime? I know a perfect spot.
We'll catch Ol' Sporty. I know where he hides and I'm gonna get him one of these days.
Ol' Sporty was a legendary fish.
Must've been 6 feet long.
River Boy told the story to Howard, and said, one day, Ol' Sporty took a bite out of a wood boat down there and after the boat sunk he almost ate the guy while he was swimming back to shore, and he woulda done it too if the man hadn't reached a log just in time.
I saw it myself.
Howard was amazed, River Boy spoke excellent English.

They were no more than 5 miles down the road before River Boy and Howard were laughing together about catching that fish. Of course the whole story was made up. The fish was real, but sinking a boat and trying to eat a man was not.

When they reached Abbeyville Howard offered to drive all the way up to the Churchail mansion outside of town.

When they arrived in front of the mansion, River Boy added I have an appointment with the commissioner.
No such thing was true.
In fact he didn't have a plan.
Howard was so impressed he asked, do you want me to wait? I'll give you a ride back.
Oh no, River Boy said they'll drive me.
Wow Howard wanted to know more.
As River Boy stepped out of the car he leaned back and shook Howard's hand saying thank you and congratulated him on his new baby.
Don't forget we're going fishing.
Ok, Howard said smiling.
Then River Boy looked down and said.
Your wife knows.
He didn't wait for Howard's reaction before walking up to the front door and going inside to wait his turn to see the commissioner.
Howard stayed long enough to see several men wave to River Boy as he walked straight in through the main door and not a servant entrance.

Stunned that his wife might know about the infidelity, Howard raced back to Trinity.

Churchail's appointment secretary also saw a strong young man get out of a new car and walk with importance. She watched him greeted by several men both Negro and white, and then come right in the front door like he'd been there before.
She had to find out who he was and had them bring River Boy into the office ahead of others, many had been waiting hours and would never get in at all.
There was some disgruntlement when a working man got in first.

The appointment secretary wanted to know River Boy's business.
He invented a sudden promotion for himself and said, I'm the mayor of Blacktown.
Ordinarily that position would result in a tour of the kitchen with quick exit out the servant door.
But Maggie Princess was from Blacktown. The secretary knew she was Churchail's prized mistress that caused him to cry.

The secretary immediately saw this was an attempt to extort money.

River Boy told her a story about the time a Negro just about drowned in the river except for the quick action of Thomas Churchail III.
River Boy said, I was the one who pulled them both out of the water after they got caught on that sunken tree that was dunking them up and down.
Remember that?
Well, that was certainly news to the secretary because she heard a bit different version, but River Boy seemed to tell it better.
Then before the secretary had time to digest the last whopper, River Boy distracted her by saying, but I'm here about problems in Blacktown that affect Trinity. We can solve the problems, and make a deal too.

The secretary felt wonderful about this man, not realizing he was a truth-stretching high schooler of dubious credential, and sent him through the door into Churchail's office.

The Commissioner was stout and vital. He looked up at River Boy and barked, what you got for me?
Pleasant greeting.
River Boy wasted no time and just sat down and said, a man named Spade killed Molly Princess.
Churchail couldn't be caught in a conversation about murder.
We'll tell that to the sheriff.

River Boy said, it's bigger than that. The payments are affected.

Hold on a minute, who the hell are you?
The guard standing at the side moved toward River Boy
Churchail motioned for him to wait.
You come here with nothing claiming to be the Mayor of bunch if Negroes? You look damn white to me.

River Boy said, I bring money you can't see.
Well that was new one to Churchail.
What you talking about?
The guard backed off.

River Boy, ever the creative teller of stories and half-truths meshed perfectly with the Churchail style.
And the two of them started exchanging amusing bullshit with smiles, each man trying access more than what was spoken.
Until a story was weaved that gave Churchail a way to solve several problems at once.
In exchange he would see what could be done about the problem in Blacktown.

I don't know if the devil takes credit or just balances the equation but the hawk and owl work day and night so the rabbit gets no rest.
Churchail was going to meet with the Upstate Boys in a couple days, and River Boy just gave him a new angle to play, plus a chance at revenge over Molly Princess.
In exchange, River Boy left with a sanction to act against Spade. His position in the deal was tenuous, but he was fairly certain they could move against Spade without retaliation, or at least delay it until a plan could be made. If not, then Blacktown was in trouble, which meant Trinity was in trouble too, because if a bunch of Negroes are killing each other, the Klan will follow suit to stop it. The northern press was talking about the violence against Negroes, and a big move by the Klan would affect Trinity in a bad way. The lives of all his friends, and next card from the Deck of Life were at risk.

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