Another Side Of Bobo Dylan
SECOND TO LAST
I STARTED the day in denial. Maybe a tip, maybe a gift. I knew better. As much as people said they’d miss me, I wasn’t anyone’s priority anymore. The fact that I had been spending more time in the last month asking for payments than making deliveries was what you’d call your sure sign. Bet on me, folks; bet on me to lose, fade, and die.
I didn’t mind much. No pension, sure, but I had savings. My old man learned hard: salt it away, as much as possible and still live. So I lived in a second-story walkup. So I almost married once –once—only to find out that she didn’t fancy a guy who didn’t spend money going out. So I owned one suit that I bought for my father’s funeral. Pops woulda been proud of that.
Sallie didn’t mind at all. Sallie’s the horse. The fact that I gotta tell people Sallie’s the horse well, that says it all. Usta be kids would hug her neck just for being a horse. Nowadays they’re all in school when me and Sallie are making the rounds. NO kids know Sallie anymore. That says it all right there.
By the time I got to Greenmore Street, I wasn’t eager to make the rounds. Boss’s orders: make deliveries in the morning, take collections in the afternoon. When it’s hot, when Sallie hates walking. When housewives are home. When snot-nosed kids are there to look at you like you were bumming for handouts.
Used to be I could park the cart on the side of the road while I took up the deliveries. Nowadays they got concrete curbs that the cart wheels don’t like going up on. They hurt Sallie’s hooves when she tries to canter up on them, but she still does, out of habit.
I pull away so she doesn’t grind against the concrete curb. I swing down from the cart, thinking that I’m to be glad my old bones won’t have to do this anymore. I miss it already.
I stroll past Sallie’s nose, thinking she knows there is something odd about me not going back to the cart’s end where the stuff is. I give her head a rub, brushing up against her nose. She chuffs lovingly. She knows nothing.
I make it to the sidewalk before I start losing my nerve. Am I embarrassed to be asking for dough? Couldn’t I just forget it? “Sorry, boss, they just wouldn’t pay.” What’d I have to lose? My job?
As I’m deciding I hear a kid yelling, “Tommy! Throw it here!” And then there’s a screech and a thump, and a smell of burnt rubber in the air. I turn, and there’s a space where the kid used to be, and a car up against the curb across the street.
And I see that Sallie and I are both looking into the same empty space. And I wonder, do I really know how much Sallie knows?