That boy, with his camelback shacks and orange boxes.
I heard him whirl by again today, that ol' Dodge Dart with the junk spring mounts. He was comin' from that lunch house down on Donatien, I know it - I could near smell the dressed sandwiches. Eve brings them home sometimes, has to take that red lunch pail from the cabine out back if she wants'a suprise me, what with that bum arm of hers. It's goin' on just under a decade now, the arm - happened the night they put down them Rosenberg fellas. Doc said give it eight months, tops, all's well, but I saw in her eyes she knew it's wasn't ever gonna heal proper.
That ol' car's gonna go bust soon, I know it - just up and burst in the night, a shower of flame between those ol' sycamores that run down to the river. I hope not. I pray it don't happen. Fire runs hot as ever down that way.
Teddy DuCroix down in Michoud says the boy's some kinda investor. Back in elementary they used to call him Teddy Jaws on account of his lips never stop flappin'. Always somethin' to say. Mama called him a sinner because some of the rumors he spread were near damnable, but I never felt that way toward him. Even when I got ordained, I never thought twice he wasn't no sinner. A pure Catholic. He's confessed to me time and time again. Pure Catholic.
The shacks down by the river ain't investible by my count, though. Somethin's strange about that boy with his camelback houses and orange boxes. We spoke some weeks back, when that junker he calls a car was ramblin' down the street, some old tune stuck in a loop on the AM. It was right before lights on, the sky was an orange like I've never seen and the clouds over the Bayou were growlin' somethin' fierce. I'd just taken the clerical collar, stored it in the locker for the night.
I was folding the chairs on the gallery so they didn't go flyin' down onto Miss Delores' lawn like they did a year past. Eve was locking in the storm windows - the one in the boudoir, right past the locker my collar was in, stuck.
"Where y'at?" he called to me first. I about-faced to the ol' junker, down the bottom of the path. I noticed weeds sproutin' through the cracks; always a nuisance but every time I pull on 'em they're back within a week.
"Alright, boy. How you doin'?
He leaned an arm on the car's door belt. "I'm doin' real swell, father, real good. I was wonderin' if you needed some help with those ol' chairs. My mama used to have the same kind; she had a real nice plantation house overlookin' the Bayou, one day we got hit real bad and the chair went airborne. Ain't never seen it since."
I remember the sun peekin' out from behind a dark cloud, a flambeaux in an orange grove. I rubbed my hand on the back of my neck, it got real hot real fast and I'd never felt more leafless without my collar. The flamin' sun, the flambeaux looked at me, right at me: you have been seen. You will be seen.
Set a guard, o Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. An answer, perhaps - a cry from above shakin' the sky like a crack might just form.
I pointed next door, smiled high. "My boy Remy lives just there, thank you. Regardless this old dog's still got a few tricks left in him, one of 'em being foldin' chairs."
He nodded real slow, and I felt like I had to talk if he wasn't gonna: "Those old camelbacks down the road - you live there?"
Nod. "Sleep there. They's houses of war, so I don't like to spend too much time in 'em, I'm sure you understand."
I didn't understand, and the sun's flame went out and it started to rain. "I hear you fix 'em up real nice and you're gonna sell 'em."
"That's right, father. At a depreciation no less."
The boy stopped noddin', shrugged instead. "Charity, I suppose."
I didn't like that answer none, and I don't know well why. If it was true the boy was practicin' goodwill - after all, who am I to judge?
"Matthew 6:1," I muttered, and lost the ardor to quote God's word.
I to this day don't know if the boy heard me.
I heard the gallery porch screech; Eve in her polka and apron openin' with her left hand. "Supper's on the table, Sammy. And you best come on in before the rain hits."
The boy looked at her, looked at me. My eye caught a good dozen orange boxes stacked up on the back seat but I didn't say nothing.
"My name's Nathan, for good measure," he extended his hand.
"Father Samson." We shook. His skin was smooth as the nylon storm gear we'd been keepin' in the cabine.
"I'll see you around, father."
The car's exhaust putted real tired, I caught sight that it didn't have no back plate. I looked past to the neighbors, readyin' their shotgun shacks for whatever was comin' from up north. Miss Delores turned to the car like I always did, and when she caught sight of me she smiled and gave the shyest wave I ever seen. I raised a hand and the sun came out again, a red stain on an orange canvas. You have been seen. You will be seen.