After three months, Henry and Johnny are returning to where it all began..........
Henry smiled his thanks to the young man at the booth and tucked two train tickets inside the pocket of his jacket. He made his way to a spare table and waited, drumming his fingers on the uneven wood of the tabletop. His eyelids felt a little heavy, and he was looking forward to locking himself in their cabin and getting a little shut-eye.
A long-awaited telegram from Twist resulted in hastily arranged journey to
Henry and Johnny had been on the lam for three months now. They had scoured the entire country – or so it seemed to Henry – looking for a quick buck and fast ride out of sight. If Henry was honest with himself, he would admit that the travel was beginning to wear him down. At forty five, he had imagined himself settling down with enough money to keep his hand in the occasional big con.
But he also hadn’t figured on meeting Johnny Hooker.
At ten years his junior, Johnny wasn’t a young anymore, but he had a brash confidence and enthusiasm, which hadn’t failed to infect Henry. He had graduated from street hustling to the big con in record time.
Henry was glad that Johnny had opted to remain with him after the Lonnegan con. Not only were they an unstoppable team, but they had also developed a close and trusting friendship. Despite all the hard work of being on the road, Henry loved the moments after a con when they could close themselves away from the world and just be in each other’s quiet, comfortable company over a game of cards or a bottle of cheap whiskey.
Realising he was about to doze off, Henry concentrated on scouring the Christmas crowds for his partner. He grinned as he spotted his partner walking from the cafeteria. Even precariously balancing two cups of coffee, a hamburger and a bag of popcorn in his arms, Henry could see Johnny’s eyes operating; searching for a sucker and the opportunity for a last hurrah before they boarded the train.
Johnny sat down, threw the popcorn in front of Henry and took a bite of his burger, speaking with his mouth full. “We know anything about this job, yet”?
Henry leaned in close, resting his weight on his folded arms. He was thoughtful as he placed a peace of popcorn between his lips and sucked at the salt between his lips. “Don’t know a hell of a lot. This is Twist and J.J’s operation. They sent me brief details”.
“Financially – I’m pretty sure he is. Socially? I don’t think so. Inherited a property fortune so he may still be considered new money”.
Henry concentrated on rolling another piece of popcorn between his thumb and forefinger. He always enjoyed stretching out a little superiority over his partner. “Inherited from a hard working father and, is determined to socially be somebody – even if he has to pay for it. Probably has more money than sense”.
“Could be good for us”.
Henry shrugged. “Could be. But we won’t underestimate him just yet”. His face broke into a wide grin. “Too dangerous to take your mark for granted”.
“Yeah, yeah”. Johnny had heard that line about a million times. He got a sneaking suspicion Henry just used it to be a smart ass.
As the call for boarding boomed over the P.A, Henry hastily downed the rest of his coffee. “C’mon. Let’s dump our suitcases and head to the lounge car. I’ll explain the basics over a whiskey”.
“Your turn to shout”.
“I shouted last time”
“I don’t remember that”……
“It was in that place with the band”.
As they argued, both men picked up their suitcases and headed towards the queue. As Johnny climbed the steps of the carriage, he suddenly looked down at Henry and gave him a wide grin.
Henry could feel his blood stir.
He felt good.
He smiled and impulsively pushed his partner up the stairs ahead of him.
It was time to go home.