Hank Jeffers had an appointment to keep at the Round Up.
He made it there well before the rain began to soak the city, he got there early thinking he might do a little business and take a few bets for his bookie before meeting the tall blonde lady who had become the biggest brightest star of his life, the loveliest person to enter his dreary little world for the better part of a decade…maybe ever.
It wasn’t in Hank’s character to complain; who’d listen? He would say if someone asked him, and the answer was…no one.
Hank was a few inches shy of four feet tall. He was quick witted and insightful. His parents had made sure that he had a good education, they ensured it by sending him to boarding school and keeping him away from them, their other—normal children, and their society, embarrassed by the fact that their first son had been born malformed.
After that he was on his own, formally disinherited and alone.
He was fourteen years old the last time he saw them, waving goodbye to their backs after they put him on the train to Fairbault, off to Shattuck of Saint Mary Preparatory School.
They never invited him back home for the holidays, they never wrote or returned his letters. There was a couple of hundred dollars left on account for him when he graduated, along with a message asking him to find his own way in the world and never come home.
It broke his heart, but he knew it was coming.
He had brothers and sisters he would never get to know. They would have children who would never know him, or that he even existed.
Hank wasn’t the type to hold a grudge, not then, not ever, so he turned away from his past and moved on.
Things could have been worse, he would tell himself. They might have sold him to the circus.
The priests at Shattuck encouraged him to enter a monastery, to join up, but he didn’t see much happiness in that way of life, and he had a hunger for adventure.
Hank wanted to see the world, and he made his just fine.
While he waited for Angela to join him, he talked to a few fellas’ and took a couple of bets, then he sat at a table by himself in the corner where he watched the room fill up with boys from the Saint Thomas ROTC. They had come all the way down Lake Street to lift a few pints and ogle the working girls, without a thought for the rain.
When he saw the giant Karl Thorrson come into the Round Up he was both surprised and nervous.
The big man had taken over all the rackets on Lake Street, including the numbers racket that Hank was into, and so he was operating without permission, which could mean trouble for him. In addition, the gal he was waiting for, Angela Guthrie, worked for his business partner at an reading room that had his name on glass.
Hank and Angela had been looking for a way to get an angle on him and seeing him come into the bar while he was waiting for her, had hank imagining something bad had happened to her, and was about to happen to him.
However, it wasn’t long before Angela came through the door herself, looking out of place in the room, but not ill at ease. She handed Thorrson a journal of some kind and a small, metal money box, who slipped them into his pockets as if they were a child’s playthings.
Then he dismissed her with a glance.
Angela spotted Hank sitting by himself in the corner. She quietly walked across the room and sat down with him at his table, Thorrson didn’t even notice her, or pay any attention to her movements. To him, she was nothing.
Seeing that made Hank feel better.