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Rocco’s Place


Harry Buschman

“Rocco! Rocco, you in there, Rocco?”

Carlo stretched his leathery neck and stared into Rocco’s shack, then he looked up and down the alley and scratched his backside thoughtfully.

“I told’ja not t’take these panels down, Rocco. Y’can’t trust nobody this side of town. Somebody could walk in here – then where’d you be?”

The panels which formed the front of the shack had been removed and now stood leaning against the interior wall. “Besides, y’lettin’ the flies in, Rocco. Y’goin’ to have the place fulla flies.”

Carlo looked around him and hitched up his baggy trousers. “Where the hell are you at, Rocco? Don’tcha have no respect for yer property? There’ll be nothin’ left when y’get back, y’know how people are around here, and it’ll serve ya damn right too.”

He slowly climbed the little flight of stairs and let himself into Rocco’s shack. He felt the stove. “Cold!” He remarked. “He must of slept without heat last night. Cold one too. Well, no sense, no feelin’ I always say.” Carlo made sure the rickety wooden door to the bedroom was shut tight, then he opened the little cabinet Rocco kept his food in, he reached in and pulled out what looked like the remains of a half eaten pastrami sandwich. He sat down by the bedroom door and began to eat it.

“I know you wouldn’t mind if you wuz here, Rocco. At heart yer a generous soul, and when a man has a decent shack like this t’live in he oughta feel honored that one of his best friends is sharin’ his bounty.”

Carlo finished Rocco’s sandwich and took the butt of a cigarette from behind his ear. “I’m havin’ an after dinner smoke, Rocco. If you was here, you know I’d be happy to share it with you. But‘cha not here, are you old buddy? Yer off doin’ somethin’ on yer own.”

Carlo stood up and began replacing the panels one by one. He pulled a paper bag from his pocket and slowly walked about the little room, picking up and examining the mementos that Rocco had collected over the years he lived in the shack. He held each of them up to the light to assess their value. He shook his head ruefully and dropped them in the paper bag one by one.

“Ain’t much here, Rocco. The whole bagful wouldn’t buy a beer at the Grand Street Bar.” Carlo opened the lid of the tin stove and dropped the bag of trinkets inside. He reached in his side pocket and pulled out a wooden match, struck it on the stove pipe and dropped it in the stove. Smoke came out the stove so he opened the damper on the stove pipe and replaced the lid.

“There now,” Carlo said softly. “That’ll be the end of Rocco now, won’t it. Disappeared into thin air. Neat and tidy. No one’s ever goin’ find a trace of you now, will they Rocco? Only you and I know where old Rocco is.”

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