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“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
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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