kelly had had a long day, and even though he had no reason to live, he would be glad to get back to his room.
his room was on the fifth floor, and the building was so old it had no elevator. but he didn’t mind walking up the flights of stairs,
a) because he did not like elevators, and was always afraid he would get trapped in them, and
b) because he figured thieves would be less likely to climb the flights of stairs.
not that he had anything in his room worth stealing. the only thing he had in the room besides a bed and a couple of chairs and a refrigerator was an ancient heavy television that got no picture, only sound.
in fact, kelly had so little of value in his room that he usually did not even lock the door behind him, because he would rather take a chance on being robbed than go through the hassle of getting into his room if he lost his keys.
so when he reached the fifth floor he just turned the handle and walked into the room.
he knew before he switched on the light that there was somebody in the room.
it was murphy, sitting in one of his chairs. kelly’s favorite of the two chairs.
kelly was surprised, but not totally surprised.
he had seen murphy about a week ago at joey’s burgers, the fast food place he, kelly, had been working at for the past fourteen months.
at the time murphy had not seemed to recognize him, and kelly did not indicate that he recognized murphy.
but, here he was.
kelly put the paper bag he was carrying, which contained two sandwiches and two cans of dr pepper, on the counter beside the refrigerator.
“you don’t have much to eat in your refrigerator, man,” murphy said. “what are you spending your hard earned money on, dope or somrething bad like that?”
“what are you, a financial advisor now?” kelly took one of sandwiches and one of the doctor peppers and sat down on the other chair. there was no table in the room so he unwrapped the sandwich and put it on his lap on top of the waxed paper it had been wrapped in at the deli.
“don’t they feed you at that place you work at?’” murphy asked him.
“i like this better. did you come here to talk about my diet? what do you want, anyway?” kelly popped open the can of dr pepper. “oh, and by the way, it’s not polite to just walk into other people’s rooms.”
“the door was open, i’m hungry. why don’t you give me half that sandwich?”
“no. what do you want?”
“why do you think i want something? i might have just come by to say hello.”
“you could have just said hello at joey’s.”
“i wasn’t sure it was you. i had to check around first, you know.” murphy looked over at the big television. “that tv doesn’t work too good.”
“i like it that way. i just listen to it, i don’t watch it.”
“you must have followed me here some night, to know where i live. so, what do you want? i don’t want to get laryngitis, asking you a hundred times.”
“you like that job you got, at that joey’s place? what is that, supposed to be like mcdonalds? i never seen any others.”
“it’s trying to get started.”
“so you like working there? it doesn’t look like much fun.”
“i don’t have much choice.”
“you might. you might. i might have something -“
“i am not interested. “
“you haven’t even heard what i have to say.”
“you talking about crime, murph? what else would you be talking about? but crime does not pay, as i am sure you know/.”
murphy laughed. “what, are you afraid to talk about crime? you think this place is bugged?” he made a show of looking around the room. “you think anybody would bug this dump? if you can’t talk here, you can’t talk anywhere.”
“that is as very well may be. but that’s not the point.”
“what is the point?”
“the point, murph, is that even if i was interested, which i am not, i wouldn’t be interested. and do you know why?”
“because i would take completely for granted - completely for granted - that you are here on behalf of one of the myriad law enforcement agencies that need to justify their existence, to suck me in on some sting operation.”
murphy considered this. “those are some big words, brother, some big words just to say you don’t trust an old friend.”
“you want me to say it again in littler words?”
“no, man, that’s all right. if that’s how you feel, that’s how you feel. i’m sorry, that’s all.”
kelly took another bite of his sandwich and a swig of dr pepper.
murphy looked down at the floor. he did not seem in any hurry to get up and go anywhere.