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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
ahead of others, many had been waiting hours and would never get in at
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
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
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?
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
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
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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