HARD to believe there are men like that out here, Henry thought. Jack drove the truck and Henry sat in the passenger seat, sucking on a sunflower seed. They bounced down highway 212, toward the intersection near Phip’s Fuel Station and the North Glencoe Bank. The radio crackled out the news of a man who’d killed Leonard and Betty Anderson in their home the night before, not four miles from here. Killed the dog, too.
“That the Leonard who ran the fire department all those years?” Henry said.
“Hush a minute.” Jack held up a finger.
The radio said, “Police are offering a reward for any information about a possible suspect.”
Jack turned off the radio. “They’ll never find the guy. Not out here.” He adjusted his dark blue baseball cap with the 214th Battalion logo on it, the badger and snake from their Vietnam days. Henry did the same.
Jack turned the truck into Phip’s and slowly backed it onto the dry grass that separated the parking lot from the road. The farmers’ market would be set up there for most of the day. They got out and let down the back gate. Jack climbed up into the bed and started piling the cobs in an appealing heap. Henry grabbed the plywood sign and propped it up so that it faced the road.
fresh corn on the cob 25¢ an ear $2 a dozen support your veterans
“Maybe if we sell enough we can fill up the tank before we leave,” Henry said. He hefted their two folding chairs out of the truck bed and set them on the grass. [End Page 560]
Jack stepped down from the bed. “We’ll worry about fuel after we get enough money for a meal.”
They sat down next to each other in their chairs, looking out over the road. Jack cursed under his breath and shook his head: “After all we did for this country—shouldn’t have to sell corn on the side of the road at age sixty-three.”
Two hours later they had only sold three dozen ears. Other trucks and vans had pulled in, stretching down the grass alongside the highway a couple hundred feet, lined up like they were all getting ready for a big backward drag race. Ben Hardy and his two plump boys were sitting by the trailer next to Jack and Henry, selling tiny pie pumpkins and all manner of squash. Henry greeted them as he did each time someone pulled in. Jack stayed back, waiting by the truck in case anyone came looking to make a purchase.
Henry worked his way down the line, saying hi to Mark Troller with his vegetable stand, Oscar with his corn setup, and Isla and Ike Montauk, selling every bean imaginable out of the back of their station wagon.
The sun was high now, high enough so that the bills of their caps cast dark shadows over their eyes. Jack scanned down the row of sellers, taking careful notice of the other corn vendors.
“We should get an umbrella like Oscar there,” Henry said when he got back, nodding at the Latino sitting beneath a big umbrella which he’d propped up against the side of his truck. It shaded both him and the corn in the truck bed.
“You got money for that?” Jack said.
A white car stopped in front of them, and Jack immediately stood up next to Henry. The man who got out was tall, well over six feet. He wore a collared jacket and cowboy boots without a scuff on them. His long black hair was tied in a ponytail that hung limply on his back. And he had a mustache so thick that he could’ve scrubbed floors with the thing. He reached into his pocket as he approached them, pulled out a dollar bill.
“Guess I’ll take a couple ears,” he said. Neither Henry nor Jack recognized him.
“That’ll do just fine,” Henry said, and bagged up some big ones for him. Jack took the money and they made the exchange. [End Page 561]