The air was crisp when I walked across the empty lot towards Lincoln’s store. The 11th grade. Boy, was I glad today was over. Friday trig was a ball-buster. My trig teacher, hawk-faced Sully, got pissed at me in trig class, just ’cause I questioned him about his solution to a homework problem. He christened me “Bronco Almon,” more interested in fighting than understanding. School’s a bitch. Life’s a bitch this year.
Ace gave me a nod as I neared the corner store we hung out at. He wore his camel hair v-neck sweater atop his bare skin. His bronze flesh shone the brighter when he smiled, revealing even, straight white teeth.
“A cig.” He extended a hand.
I took the Marlboro pack from my shirt pocket. Gave him one. Put another between my lips. “What’s up, man?”
“Not fucking much. Nobody’s been here all day. Later, my main squeeze. Get some. You?”
“Cooling after school. Old Sully is giving me grief in trig. At home, the old man’s already home. Let something good happen.”
“Don’t plan. Don’t expect. You’ll only be disappointed. Just do.” He admired a long plume of exhaled smoke. “Trig. That’s math shit you’ll never use. Another reason I don’t waste my time at school. I got a deal cooking. That pharmacy a block south of the new parkway. I’ll make more from that than you’ll make through Christmas.”
I shook my head. “I like the math stuff. Sure, I figure out the number of roof tiles Josh needs when he asks me, but that’s not interest. I like to figure out how things are tied together. How they all link up.”
Ace blew a smoke ring at me. “Figure in how you’re going to convert smoke into money, then I’ll call you smart, otherwise you are just wasting time. You should be thinking money.”
No use getting mad about his grief. Money wasn’t a measure for me. “Hey, you heard the new Beatles, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’?”
“Yeah,” he smiled wickedly, “my night’s going to be hard while yours is soft.”
“Maybe something will come up.” I hoped.
Ace laughed. He pulled a cellophane envelope from his front pocket. “Here’s something to make things sweeter. Two for two bucks.”