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The ambulance siren was a distant whine, could almost have been the wind pushing across a bent downspout.
Pallas pulled from a bottle of flavored vodka.
The label peeked over the wrinkled brown bag.
If it was raspberry Ollie Burns wanted some.
If it was pepper or orange he didn’t. Not as much, anyway.
He couldn’t tell.
“Why do people fuck with heroin?” Pallas asked.
He inflected it like he wanted an answer.
“Guess it makes you feel some kinda good, at least at first,” Ollie Burns said.
“Fylison didn’t need to fuck with it,” Pallas said.
“According to you.” Ollie played with the change in his pocket. Maybe almost enough for a double shot.
“According to sense. Fylison is a smart dude, ain’t bad looking…”
Ollie hesitated. If he for sure had enough for a double shot he would have walked back into Cabaret Market.
“Fylison lost his CDL because he got some kinda seizures. Couldn’t work. Can’t work an assembly job, same reason.”
“No excuse, man,” Pallas said.
“Maybe not to you, but maybe he just…I dunno, just tried it and it snatched him up. He’s on the way to the hospital. Don’t talk bad. If he dies…”
Pallas spit between the gap in his front teeth.
“His eyes were open. Them Narcan things is a trip. Boom. He’s lucky.”
“I hope. My man had a rough life.”
“Fylison? Weren’t that rough.”
“Can’t work, got seizures, mama died when he was eleven, uncle molested him. That’s rough the way I see it.”
Pallas squinted at Ollie, took two quick pulls from his vodka. Ollie saw the raspberry on the label, reached for the bottle. Pallas hesitated, then passed it.
“Uncle molested him? How you know that?”
“Because his uncle was in the same firehouse as my daddy, Engine 718 over on Northrop. Got fired.”
“His Uncle Charlie?!”
“Yeah, you know him?”
“He was my basketball coach at Everett. 6th grade.”
“Well, he ain’t coachin’ nobody no more.”
Pallas stared off.
“How can a dude risk his life to save strangers, then wreck the life of his own nephew? Don’t make no sense.”
Ollie Burns worked the change in his pocket, blindly, trying to count how many quarters there were just using his thumb and forefinger.
“I don’t know how much life risking he did. He was only there 4 years. My daddy did 20 and never got hurt.”
“Still…he musta meant to be willing to risk his life.”
Ollie Burns guessed he was less than twenty cents shy of a double shot. Two returnables. Shouldn’t be hard to find.
“Maybe he just wanted job security and a city pension,” Ollie said, “didn’t really think about the risks.”
“That makes sense,” Pallas said.
Ollie cracked his knuckles.
“If that makes sense to you, then so should Fylison.”
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