"What's he in
"They say he
chopped his wife up in little pieces."
"He used to
look out for me over at Mellon."
"Say he caught
her with another dude. Went crazy and wasted his old lady."
Reds passed by a
little later. He shook my hand. Said, "Spanky." Nodded at my brother.
An incredulous look, a few mumbled words, but it was obvious he was remembering
everything, and everything was too much to handle. Neither of us wanted to
linger, so off he went, again with the priest and an older woman, who was his
sister, mother, cousin, whoever.
Robby told me
during a subsequent visit that Reds had bragged about how tight he was with me,
Wideman. And Wideman included my brother, so Reds figured he had gained an in
with the black guys, among whom Robby was a leader. Reds traded on that
association, boasting, carrying himself a little taller, straighter, bumming
cigarettes, till he carried it a bit too far, got too familiar and Robby had to
tell him cool it. A strange sort of payback, a false neatness rounding off my
relationship to Reds. For a month or two, I had been Reds' safe passage through
one black corner of Western Penn.