John Brown’s Body

“Panama City Beach was a dirty little beach town when your Daddy and I worked together, back when. Somebody had to do something. Blackie took the fall so I could be the hero and move forward. He ever talk about that?”

“No. He just came home and went fishing with Captain David. People would try to get him to talk, joke about him changing jobs to get to the easy life, he’d just smile. But as soon as they looked away, the smile was gone. I told him one time to tell them to go to hell. That was what I told kids in school when they said something about him, usually just before the fight broke out. He said, ‘Do your job, son. Don’t matter what other folks think.’”

They stood looking at the other ramp and the other weeds.

“John Brown knew,” said the chief. “I didn’t mind paying him as long as it was a little here and there, kind of like giving a buck to a panhandler. When he decided to cash in, I knew it would just get bigger unless I did something to stop it.”

He turned to Blackbeard. “No way you’re going to just let this drop, is there?”

Blackbeard stood watching the water.

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