A Hot Time in the Old Town

"Anyway, the second floor was vacant, and stayed that way for a long time. Then came Bob Harrison.

"I remember the day he showed up. Can't help but remember. It was a spring day, but one devil of a hot one. The house was so stuffy that afternoon, I just had to get out, so I went for a walk. Bobby was sitting on the front porch when I got back.

"My mouth dropped open when I saw him there. I introduced myself, friendly as could be, but I was still barely able to look him in the eye. Partly because what had happened all those years ago still gnawed at me--no, I know it wasn't my fault--and partly because he reminded me of Ezra Bowman. God alone knows why; Bobby was older than Ezra, much more outgoing, and looked nothing like him. Maybe it was just because he was so darn smart.

"You probably think it was because all black people look alike to me, don't you? Not so, I promise.

"The heat was getting to him, too. He had a bright red handkerchief in his pocket and he kept mopping his brow the whole time we were talking. Anyway, I showed him the second floor and he took it. Easy as pie.

"He was in and out of the place for a week moving his stuff in. There was a lot--hell, he spent two days just moving books. And all that week, the weather was screwy--it was still that damn heat, oppressive and heavy, but it came and went. I tried making conversation with the neighbors about it--what kind of neighbor would begrudge you a chat about the weather?--but they all looked at me like I was nuts. Said whatever was bothering me, they hadn't noticed it.

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