304. The Red and White: April 30, 1935

He caught it
From the corner of his eye.
He frowned–
Then it vanished in the crowd.
Lounging on the railing
With the other men,
Tom gazed down the street.
Nothing, though, stuck out.
Folks were walking,
To and from the shops,
Loading up their trucks….
Chatting, this and that….
A hat.

Big hat.
Bigger than it ought to be.
Jostling, in a beeline
Right this way.
Thomas whistled, rueful,
Through his teeth.

“Tom McKenna! Well!
Long time, no see!”
Tom held out his hand.
“Jack Hance. How do?”
“Funny you should ask,
Tom”–Tom could feel them
Smiling. He did not.
They were thinking:
Jack Hance. Here we go.
“I’ve been in D.C.,
Large Extension meeting,
Ag Department also,
Then Substation, Denton–
Need to talk to you–”

“Say, Jack,” someone said,
“Know you’re busy, but
Before you run–
Don’t expect you heard tell
Of a breeze we had
Around these parts, oh,
Two weeks back?”
“Sure did, Mitch. Was it
A doozy?”
Doozy? They shot glances.
Jack Hance–
God forbid he’d be here
When there’s need.

“Tom, we’ll talk.
Step into my office?”
Tom thought, how come
That it has to be, in
Front of God and all
This man finds me.

But Tom wasn’t bothered
As he’d been before: he
Noted this, surprised.
He balked only mildly–
Jack Hance wants to bend my ear,
That’s fine.
“So long, boys.” Even in
His own ears, sounded
Easy. Walked away.

They said so long.

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