I recall one night I brought up the name of Alice Winslow.
“Milvey carried a torch for that woman,” Willie says.
“Alice Winslow, really?” That took me by surprise.
“Not too many people knew it, but Alice was giving Milvey free typing paper.”
“What you suppose that was all about?” I asked.
“Alice was sweet on Milvey.”
“Shame it didn’t work out.”
“She had her store. He had his typing. A perfect match.”
“Doggone, crying shame.”
“And then some.”
“Think Mattie had it right? The Lord’s way of taking Milvey to task for putting typing ahead of most else in his life?” I asked.
“Could be, except what in tarnation was it Milvey should have been putting first?” Willie said.
“Just don’t hardly seem fair, that’s all,” I said.
“Who are we to question The Man Upstairs?” Willie asks. Conversationwise, that took the wind out of our sails.
At some point Willie comes out from behind his desk, kneels down, and scratches Lucy’s ears.
After that Lucy and I head back outside to do our final business for the night. Sometimes we just sort of stand there in the road for a while. Lucy cocks her head and sniffs around. Crickets are cricking. Off in the distance, there’s this faint sound of a train coming on.
If the sky’s clear, and the moon’s not too full of itself, the stars get to shining in that special way they got of making woman, man, and dog alike happy to have a few good years left.
Sometimes, not always mind you, but sometimes, after the train passes, or maybe a little after that, Lucy sits there, ears all a-perked, refusing to budge until I hear what she’s hearing. If the wind’s up a little bit and blowing in the right direction I swear I can. It’s an ever so faint click, click, click drifting down from Milvey’s corner room at the Y. Truth to tell, some folks even gone … well, they just never get too far away.