Chapter 21 ~ Joe Learns a Lesson

Chapter 21 ~ Joe Learns a Lesson

Joe drove along state route 57. He kept his speed at the posted 55 speed limit. Sam whacked Joe on his bicep. “Watch your speed, it slows down to 30 when we go through Marblehead.”

“Don’t hit me on my arm. It’s not like I can’t hear you.”

“Touchy? Afraid of what you might hear when you talk to Max Stein?” said Sam matter of factly.

Joe saw the speed limit sign, slowed down, and looked at the old worn out buildings and homes, “This is Marblehead? It looks more like a ghost town.”

“You never got your hands dirty with hard work is my guess. People live in these houses. They raise kids in these houses. It’s all they kin afford. But you kin make fun of it because you got some fancy apartment and you go and eat every night in a fancy restaurant. These folks don’t exist to you. As for me, I’d just as soon have a beer with them than with you and your friends. They’re real.”

Joe didn’t say anything. Sam’s words stung like an attack of killer bees. He knew Sam was right, but didn’t want to admit it. The town was no more than a half mile long. He drove over a small bridge and the speed limit changed back to 55. 

The passed a soybean factory on the left. Joe looked over to his right, “You know what that is Sam?”

Sam turned to his right. “Those are storage caves. This used to be a big limestone mining area. You know the average temperature in one of the caves is about 55 degrees?”

“Year round?”

“Yep. When you get our room, git a room with double beds. I hope you don’t snore, because if you do, you’ll have to put me up in separate room.”

Joe was kicking himself for buying Sam coffee and donuts six hours ago. He was kicking himself for thinking Sam might help him. And, he was kicking himself for agreeing to let Sam ride to him to Quincy. Now Sam was talking about going on to Boulder. Joe took a right on Broadway and drove east until he came to a Fairfield Inn on the east side of town. He pulled into the parking lot. Stopped the BMW in front of the lobby door and said, “I’ll be right back.”

Ten minutes later, Joe came out of the Fairfield and saw Sam standing outside of the car using Joe’s cell phone. 

“What are you doing? Give me my iPhone?” demanded Joe.

Sam waved him off and turned his back toward Joe. Joe stepped closer and reached for the iPhone. Sam turned and started walking toward Broadway. Joe followed him. 

Sam stopped at the edge of the parking lot. He held the iPhone away from his mouth and turned to Joe, “Let me finish my call or I’ll toss your cell into the street. How will that work for you?” 

Joe threw his hands up in the air and went back to the BMW. He opened the door and sat inside. He whacked the steering wheel with his hand and winced from the pain he caused himself. 

He turned and looked in the sideview mirror and saw Sam walking toward the car. Joe thought as soon as he gives me my phone, I’m telling him we’re done, through, finished. This is the end of the road for you and me.

Sam opened the passenger door, slid in the car. He said, “You know who I was talking to?”

“No, and I don’t care. Give me my iPhone.”

Sam held the iPhone in his right hand. He said, “I was talking to an old friend, Donna. She works as a waitress at Riverside Grill on 3rd Street. She said they have the best ribs in town. You kin take me to Goodwill and buy me some clean duds. Then I can go back and shower and shave. Before you get yourself all worked up, the reason I called her was I asked her if she knew anything Joe Ritchie and his Flamingos since he hung out in this area. You know what she said?”

“What?” said Joe.

“All she said, I’ll talk to you when I’m on break,” said Sam handing the iPhone to Joe.

Joe kicked himself for judging Sam too quickly. He felt guilty. He said, “There’s a Wal-Mart nearby. You can get your clothes there instead of Goodwill.”

Sam smiled and said, “No thanks. I just as soon help out Goodwill, they do a good service giving people work. I don’t need no high class clothes.”

“Thanks, Sam. I appreciate your help,” said Joe.

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