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 16) The Deck of Life
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Edwin Jones found the Deck of Life when he was in prison.
It was inside and an old book.
Called the Book of Serious.
Why it would have that name nobody knew because it was a humorous book meant to be a distraction.
It sat on the highest shelf, next to the Big Bible.

The prison had more than one Bible.
But the Big Bible had a brown cover not the black.
And it wasn't really a Bible, the men called it a Bible because it was an explanation of the big stuff.
Lot of guys wanted to know why they were in prison. So the Big Bible caught their eye but few men noticed the Book of Serious sitting next to it, except generally remembering it was a funny story about something that Edwin didn't recall.

He read all the books.
One by one between the beatings and memorizing what he could.
Prison for him was an awful stay.
He never spoke about it after leaving.

Edwin remembered the Book of Serious only because it contained the Deck of Life.
Those magic words struck him as if that was in fact what the book said.
You know how the memory of something distorts what actually was there.
That wasn't important.
Edwin found the words quite remarkable.

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 book said the man who reads this cannot ignore his fate.
He must choose.

Edwin understood.
And his captivity caused him to clarify the purpose of his choice. His choice was to free himself. He saw what was to be done, and was powerless to fulfill his destiny when they freed him two years later. The Deck of Life carried it's own prison that he was too old to escape. Until he met River Boy.

Grandpa Edwin Jones' heart was changed after prison, and when he met River Boy, he felt peace.
River Boy gave that magic to people. It's how they felt around him.
Grandpa told him, you saved me.
It was the nicest thing River Boy ever heard in his life. He loved watching that old man leave the shack in the morning, trudging down the hill to the river.
Edwin Jones knew the currents and the habits of fish like he knew the hatred of prison guards.
Every step in the soft mud, every cast of the line was one more forgiveness he gave himself for 30 years of misery laid on his soul from prison. Slowly departing the past with each moment, Grandpa was drawn to the river.

But he had chosen another destiny with his decision to leave prison. The Deck of Life.
And with River Boy's help, the things he saw with his eyes could be fulfilled.

Yes, Edwin Jones wrote the notes in brown ink, and River Boy delivered them.

Grandpa never read them and didn't understand what he wrote, but he did what he agreed to do. It was part of enduring his life that freed him from beatings. He didn't have to stand no matter how hard they hit. He didn't have to laugh and spit and use his massive hands to shake men apart. He was free and owed his decision to the Deck of Life.

Only Edwin Jones knew the story. River Boy didn't question it. But as he lay there hiding from the men who were breaking Grandpa's shack into pieces, he knew it was time for him to fulfill his own destiny.
His Grandpa saved him, and he saved his Grandpa, but now they needed help.

Spade was looking around. He was a clever animal, the best of predators and worst of human lot, but he was used to town living and not moving through a forest.
River Boy laid on a steep edge. An inexperienced person would climb the easiest route to the top of the hill and avoid the steep slope.
River Boy had to get off the hill and find his Grandpa before he came back, so the higher Spade moved, the lower River Boy moved until he was in the valley and concealed by full underbrush and deep grass.
He waited along the river until Grandpa came by.
Together they hid in the trees, hungry, until after dark when they heard the car leave and watched the lights bounce along the road and around the hill.
They couldn't see if three men were in the car or just two.
Then they made their way down to the old hobo camp, and discovered Top Hat and six other men. They survived the murders in Blacktown. Discussions were underway.
Spade had killed at least three in Blacktown and maybe others. Crackling Green had his men out looking for Top Hat, and nobody was sure how many or where they were.
River Boy was the fastest runner and could get out ahead of anybody who saw him. He needed a ride to Abbeyville to see Churchail.
Top Hat knew Molly Princess was pulling money off Churchail, but didn't know Thomas Churchail loved her. He wanted to know why River Boy thought Commissioner Churchail would put up a snap over 3 or 4 dead Negroes. River Boy couldn't tell him about the notes they'd been delivering, or what he knew about Molly, so he didn't explain, not that he knew for sure anyway.

River Boy said, give me one more night. The men agreed to wait one day before making a move.
It was chilly that night. They kept a dark camp and slept on wood planks while men took turns at watch.

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