Fontana was still sitting in his chair. He was laughing, sipping my drink. "This is great," he said. He got up, giving his jacket a little hitch.
"You owe me one," he added, "and this is it, some of it, anyway. Let's not forget who could have been sitting in that eight-by-twelve up at Raiford the last three years instead of me. I'm at the Delano. You feel like it, give me a call. I got something going on I'd like to include you in."
He gave the gizmo a glance. It was under the table next to my foot, or had been; now I didn't see it. "You know, Matthew, a man can go his whole life in this country and never know if he's a coward. You want a blaze of glory? I'm going to serve it to you on a silver fucking platter."
He laughed again and walked inside. No one paid attention to him. After another minute I got up and sat in the chair and finished my drink, thinking to slip the black box in my pocket.
I reached down for it and froze. I shoved the table aside. The deck underneath was empty.
"The Vanishing Jack" was Fontana's favorite card trick from years ago. He would do it so fast you hardly saw his hands move.
Copyright © 2005 by Sean Rowe.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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