Peas in a Pod: part three
Peas in a Pod
He was distracted by a commotion across the street. He found he’d wandered as far as Broadway. The matinee at the Belvedere Theatre was about to start.
“Standing room in the gal’ry! Room in the gal’ry, folks!” a man on the theater steps called out. He scanned the crowd for stragglers, and his eye met Richard’s. “Thirty-five cent, young man! Pathos! That’s what the paper say. Gunfight! Fickle heart of a woman! Dandy couple songs…”
Richard could spare thirty-five cents. Digging in his pocket, he advanced a few steps, while his eyes followed the dance of the white-gloved hand that held the tickets. He felt the pistol butt echo his movements, slapping itself against the brace where he’d secured it in the way he’d seen Fish do. Two years ago a man had carried a pistol into a theater. Richard stood still. He wondered if he would be jumped in the lobby, thrown in jail.
An arm, inside a sleeve of white batiste, extended over his shoulder.
“I haven’t any change, but that’s quite all right.” Before Richard could turn to see the face of his benefactress, the tout had snatched the dollar, taken his elbow, and was bustling him through the door.
“You get on, son, don’t lose your place.”
Yet for all the hurry to fill seats, by the time Richard, hunched in a guilty posture, had inched to a gap along the rail where he could see the stage, he found there was nothing to see. For twenty minutes, the curtain stayed down, and the musicians played. Richard had time to recall what he’d been asking himself. Mrs. Purfoy had not said, “Be here tomorrow.” She’d said, “Bring the money when you get it.” Mrs. Upham, he thought…then heard an old, familiar tune: “My Old Kentucky Home”. And a stir that passed from the orchestra to the gallery, for the audience had been given the signal that the curtain was, at last, about to rise.
Major Fish’s assault on Tinker, and Richard’s wresting of the gun from Fish, were events Lawrence had wished to see reenacted.
“Well, first off, you have to be Tinker, then.”
By the same reasoning, he’d made Lawrence be Fish for the second lesson. But Lawrence, never averse to roughhousing, had turned Richard’s gambit around on him. He embellished the role of Fish, stepping on Richard’s foot and shouldering him backwards, and Richard relinquished the gun at once, rather than risk its firing off.
“Richard!” They heard their mother call from the bedroom where she was meant to be kept quiet.
“They torn down a buildin up the street.” Lawrence lowered his voice, following close on Richard’s heels, burying the gun under his shirt.
A Figure from the Common Lot
(2017, Stephanie Foster)