it’s story time again

by underswansea


Bishop didn’t believe in hell, nor did he believe people got what they deserved. He didn’t believe in a final reckoning or paying for sins. But he wished he did.

He remembered back to when he was a boy. The only lawyer in town was a bigshot, loud, drunk who loved to throw his weight around.

When Bishop was fifteen, he and his friend Scotty were out walking the town. It was late. They had snuck out with some whiskey. Scotty was an Indian. Lived on the reservation. It was against the law to drink at fifteen, and if you were from the First Nation it was against the law to drink off reservation.

They walked the deserted alleyways and Main Street and along the boarded walks. They looked in windows, climbed on roofs. Scotty jumped fence rails, turning through the night sky, landing in a run. Bishop was always amazed at his dexterity. They passed the mickey, talked about hunting and being sharpshooters like their fathers had been in the war. They made up stories and laughed.

Bishop remembered they were walking across the street kitty corner from the newspaper office. The car was rolling quick and didn’t slow. They figured the driver saw them or was trying to scare them. It occurred to Bishop this wasn’t the case and jumped clear. Scotty was hit and knocked twenty yards where he lay motionless.

The lawyer stumbled out. Didn’t even look at Scotty. Went to the front of the car and examined the dent. He ran his hand over it and said, “Shit.”

Scotty was banged up, but still talking. Bishop and the lawyer piled him into the back seat. Bishop jumped up front. Suggesting to the drunken lawyer he could drive. A bottle of Five Star was on the floorboards. The lawyer waved off the offer and drove them, weaving and lurching, to the hospital. He dropped them at the street.

Bishop helped Scotty out of the back. The lawyer saw the top of the mickey poking out of Bishop’s pocket. He said, “Hand over the bottle son.”

Bishop half carrying and half dragging made it the final fifty-yards down the driveway to the hospital.

Scotty had a few broken bones. He was black and blue. His hip was the worst of it. The next night the lawyer visited Scotty at the hospital. It was late. The lights were off. His roommate, an old guy who farted all day, was finally snoring.

The lawyer sat in the chair beside the bed, “Good to see you’re still alive. You kids were drinking, underage, and you’re an Indian,” he stunk of whiskey, “You know what that means, drunk off reservation.”

“They’ll ship you to reform in the city. . . if I tell them,” the lawyer shifted close to the bed, “What did you tell them?”

Scotty said, “I told them, I fell over the bank, at the end of town, onto the rails.” Scotty had been anticipated this meeting

“Good,” the lawyer said, “Good for you.”

When he pushed himself out of his seat he blew whiskey breath on Scotty’s face.

That was that. Scotty asked Bishop for his silence. Scotty always walked with a limp after that. His fence jumping days were over.

Over the years Bishop ran into Scotty here and there. They always picked up right where they left off. Telling jokes and sharing a drink. They both knew it wasn’t everybody you could do that with.

Scotty got drunk one night, far from his home and froze to death.

The lawyer got old and wealthy. When he retired, the Rotary, Masons and Chamber of Commerce held a big celebration to show the towns appreciation.

Bishop, wasn’t invited, but thought about going anyway. Instead, that night, he walked the same lanes as he and Scotty earlier, in a life long ago, only now with hard paved walks instead of wood.