A Problem Even in Death

When Jimmy came home last night he went straight to his bedroom. He was bone-tired, mentally, and physically, and fell asleep, waking up this morning still in the clothes he wore yesterday.

Jimmy sipped his coffee as he watched Shelia washing the dishes. The girls acted strangely towards him this morning, and this concerned him, because although he expected this behavior from Jean, he was surprised that Sara ignored him and wouldn’t give him any eye contact. Instead, she mumbled hello and kept her eyes on her bowl of cereal when he sat down at the kitchen table. 

Shelia seemed nervous. He watched her washing the same bowl for over a minute before rinsing the soap off. Shelia didn’t look at the dishes she washed, instead she looked out of the kitchen window. Jimmy cleared his throat a couple of times. 

“Everything alright with you Shelia?”

“It’s all good. Why you ask?” Shelia put the last dish into the dishrack and turned to face Jimmy as she dried off her hands with the dishtowel.

“Just asking, you seem to be distracted. That’s all. And Sara was quiet this morning too.” 

“Everything is fine Jimmy. I could say the same thing about you too. You’ve been acting strange here lately. You didn’t come out of your room at all yesterday, not even to get a Coke, let along something to eat. You sick?” 

Jimmy drank the last of his coffee and walked to the sink to rinse off his cup. Shelia backed up to give him plenty of room so he wouldn’t have any excuse to bump into her.

“Again, are you sick?” Shelia asked, crossing her arms.

“No, I’m not sick. Was just tired, that’s all. Had a hard day due to a call off…” 

“Let me guess. Slim Jim. Right? Why you keep him on the payroll man?”

“Slim Jim is alright. He has some problems, that’s all.”

“Yeah. Some smack problems. You got that fool driving your cabs around this city, knowing he got a drug problem. What if he nods off while waiting for a pick-up? It’ll be your fault.” 

“Slim doesn’t come to work high. He knows the rules and he hasn’t broken them yet.” 

“Maybe you need to add no white horse call offs to your job descriptions.” Shelia laughed. 

“Maybe I will. But he’s not the problem.  A Black cop is the problem.” 

Shelia stopped laughing and handed Jimmy the dishtowel to dry his cup. 

“What’s the cop’s name?” 

“Richardson. He’s a detective.” 

“What’s he want with you?”

“Questions about Smooth’s death.”

“Why ask you?” 

“Because I gave him a ride in my cab, just asking questions that’s all. He wants me to call him back this morning.

“He’s asking me questions too.”

“What, he is? Why! You didn’t have anything to do with Smooth’s death!”

“No, I didn’t. I guess he’s just doing his job and asking anybody that knew him questions. I have to go to his office this morning.”

“I can give you a ride in my cab down there and we both can answer his questions, together.”

“Uh, no. I don’t think he wants to ask us questions together. But I will take the ride. What time?”

“I’ll be ready to go in about fifteen minutes.”

Jimmy put the cup away and went to his room to get his wallet and jacket. He didn’t need fifteen minutes to get ready, but he needed the time to cool down and get his thoughts together. He didn’t like it that Shelia was being questioned by the police. Shelia had dealt with so many bad things in her life and Jimmy hated that she had to now deal with the death of that no-good Smooth. Even in his death he was a problem.