maybe i can use these kids, angie thought. nobody will be looking for a woman with a couple of kids. and maybe i can use them to scout out some things.
“well, how about it, miss brown?” the black girl, salome, asked her from the back seat.
“how about what?” angie started to light another cigarette.
“are you going to new york or not?”
“i might. i have to try to meet someone first.” angie looked over her shoulder. “maybe you can help me out there. make yourself useful.”
“useful to you, you mean,” salome answered.
“well, of course it’s what i meant,” said angie. “do you think i showed up out of thin air to be useful to you?”
“ha, ha! no need to get snippy, miss brown. why don’t you just say what you want.”
angie hesitated. “i thought one of you might go over to the bus station and see if you can spot this individual i might want to talk to.”
salome looked out the window over at the station. “why not both of us?”
why not? angie thought. “maybe i will think of something else for the other one to do.”
salome considered this. “why can’t you look for this person yourself? don’t you know what he looks like?”
“what do you care?” angie was starting to get exasperated. “do you want to help me or not?”
“you mind if i say something, miss brown?”
“not at all, my dear child. what is on your sweet little mind?”
“you should just say what you think or at least sound like you are. you know why?”
“because if you’re always dodging around, people can tell you’re a person who’s spent some time in jail.”
despite herself, angie flushed.
“ha, ha, ha! got you there, didn’t i, miss brown? “ salome leaned over the front seat and patted angie on the shoulder. “come on, i didn’t mean nothing. you know people that’s been in jail can always spot other folks that have, it’s just nature’s way.”
salome looked over at the other girl, who had remained silent. “what do you think, pip? you think miss brown’s been a guest of the state somewhere?”
pippi considered this. “i thank the lord may indeed have tried her in that fashion.”
angie took a deep breath. “so you girls have been in jail. have you - uh - escaped, by any chance?"
salome leaned back and laughed. “oh, no, no. we served our time. we got the papers to show it, too. want to see them?”
“that won’t be necessary. look here.” angie dug into her pocket and took out a couple of the bills she had from making change back at ruth’s place. “here. get yourself a coke or something from the machine. wait and see if a guy who looks like a lawyer shows up.”
salome looked at the two one dollar bills. “a lawyer. what does a lawyer look like?”
“you’ve never seen a lawyer?”
“no, where would i? i never had one myself.”
“a lawyer looks - respectable. like he took a bath. like he shaved, even at six the morning. “
“i’ve seen lawyers,” pippi said. “i could go instead.”
“no, no,” angie said. “let her go, she looks older, they are more likely to chase you away.”
“i might get chased away because i’m black, “ said salome. “and not with a white person.”
can’t she just say yes ma’am to anything, angie thought. “well if they do, just come back and we’ll go from there. all right?”
“all right.” salome put the bills in her pocket. “and if i see this lawyer looking person, then what? do i say something to him?”
"no, no, no. just come back and tell me.”
“i guess i can do that. you want the change from your money.? a coke don’t cost no two dollars.”
“bring me back a coke. you want something?” angie asked pippi.
“a coke and a hershey bar.”
“a coke and a hershey bar,” angie repeated. “i see nobody’s bashful here.”
“ you asked if i wanted anything. i want a coke and a hershey bar. you don’t have to buy them for me,” pippi answered evenly.
“no, no, you can have both,” angie assured her. “were are all friends here.”
suddenly there was a sharp rap on the window. angie almost screamed. what now?
she turned and saw the face of a policeman in the window.
angie rolled the window down. “yes, officer?”
“what are you doing here, miss?” with the window down angie could see that the officer was young, maybe just out of high school. he glanced back at the two girls. he was obviously puzzled by the fact that one was black.
angie started to say, i’m waiting for my husband, realized he might notice she had no wedding ring. “my name is willa mason, officer, i am with the redemption church, it’s a little church in albany, we are waiting for our bishop to arrive on the bus from - from new york city.” there has to be a bus from the city, she thought.
the young man looked doubtful. “why not wait in the station?”
“i didn’t like the place, officer. i saw a man whose looks frightened me.”
“i see. and these two girls, who are they?”
“they are a couple of unfortunate children that the bishop saved from a life of sin.” angie handed the policeman the pamphlet pippi had given her. “we are here on a special mission to yonkers. look, here is a sample of our literature.”
the young man looked at the girls in the back seat. “saved from a life of sin?”
“they have just been released from - the reformatory. the reformatory.” angie turned to pippi. “dear, show the officer your discharge paper.”
expressionless, pippi took her time rummaging in her pants pocket but finally pulled out a piece of paper folded in eighths which she handed over to the policeman. he shone a flashlight on it and studied it for a full minute before handing it back.
salome cleared her throat. “i have one too, officer.”
“no, that’s all right.” the officer took his cap off, scratched his head, and put the cap back on. “all right, miss. but consider, there are some frightening people out here on the street too.”
“thank you, officer. but it seems to be getting light. finally.” angie gave him a little laugh, and a smile - not too big.
the officer moved off, and angie rolled the widow back up.
“that was very good, miss brown,” salome said. “very smooth. i see there’s no green bananas on the boat you just fell off. pretty impressive, don’t you think, pip?"
“yes,” pippi answered. “notice how she got us to show our i d so he forgot to ask for hers.”
“right. a most impressive performance.”
but angie was hardly listening to them. she was watching the policeman go back to his squad car, back it out and drive off. surely he would do some kind of checking on her story. she couldn’t take the chance that he would not.
salome put her hand on the door handle. “you still want me to look for your lawyer friend.”
“no, we are getting out of here. we’ll give our friend in blue half a minute to get away.”