Marcus walked over to the cabinet where he kept the whiskey (or Whisky- a point of contention at the local watering hole with any Canadians who came over.) It was a Laphroaig quarter cask. Not easy to come by in Northern Minnesota. It had been a gift years ago from that guy, Nick was it? The guy who held up the convenience store. That’s funny, the clerk up and moved back to Minneapolis, thinking it was a lot safer there for some reason. People are really funny, always closing the barn doors after the cows escape. Probably in the hopes that it would look like a divine miracle to anyone who might own the cows and barn; and who might be in the mood to ask questions vis a vis the state of the doors before they had been closed.
People always looked for an answer they could rely on as ultimate without having to ask too many questions. Probably why religions, political parties, astrology and the NFL are so successful, he thought. Wave a flag *BAM* instant identity. Crisis over.
Never mind the fact that it was the only holdup they’d ever had at that time in Ely. Never mind that he was a LOT more likely to get held up in any part of Minneapolis than he was up here. He was filled with religious fervor after that too. It would have depressed Marcus to think of it when he was a young man, now it just made him somber.
Ironic too, that the guy who he knocked out and got sent to prison saved his earnings and had his mother deliver the bottle to him. Sealed and unopened, Marcus wasn’t a fool. He knew some people harbored grudges. The letter that accompanied it thanked him for busting him and getting him sent away. It explained that he’d been desperate to get a score or fix or whatever, and that being in treatment in prison was working for him. Kept him away from most of the people and that he was hanging with the crowd of “Jesus-freaks” who spent their time in the gym.
Another irony, Marcus had mused. Here he was an Atheist, doing God’s work. He opened the bottle and shared a shot with the kid’s mother, who’d had an uncomfortably hopeful look in her eye. Afterward, he penned a letter thanking the young man and telling him he’d had a nice conversation and raised a glass with his mother and should he get out on time or early to look him up if he needed some work.
Marcus didn’t really need the work of course, but the kid would have a hard enough time when he got out. Maybe if he really had changed, he could vouch for the kid and get him work at one of the local bars or something.
It was odd though, that of the three, the guy who got sent to prison would be the most grateful. Marcus supposed it had something to do with human nature. Or maybe because he realized that prison was a lot better than where he might have gone if Bleeker hadn’t been taking a piss at the time.
Marcus looked at the bottle and the hash marks he’d drawn to make sure that when the kid got out they’d be able to share a last glass. Just a few months.
He hadn’t heard from Nick in several years, but people had a way of popping back into your life when you didn’t expect it.