He sat down next to Tom, awfully sure of himself; said his name was Andy. Still, I asked who he was. He didn't answer. "So you met old Rob?" is all he said. Tom and I looked at each other. "Always had a problem with the whiskey, old Rob. Must of cost Mr. Bishop a lot of money over the years," he said, waiting for us to ask. "Mr. Who?" asked Tom, walking right into it. "Mr. Bishop," Andy said. "He runs this neighborhood. Any money that comes in goes to him. Rob pays his dues and drinks the rest away. I'm sure Mr. Bishop will be mighty grateful to have his money back."
Andy held out his hand, waiting for the cash. I knocked it away and got up. The rush had taken over again. Andy got up real slow, smirking. It took me a minute to figure out why. The kid at the counter, a little younger than me, had a gun on me. "You'll be wanting Mr. Bishop's gratitude if you want to stay in this place," Andy said. I took out the money and threw it in his face. He grinned, bent down and picked it up. "Enjoy your lunch," he said, sitting up at the counter. The kid put the gun back behind the counter.
"This buys you into Mr. Bishop's good graces," Andy said, holding up the money. "I'm sure old Rob's going to pay though. Don't be surprised if you don't see him walking around here anymore. And if you don't, and you're looking for money, and who isn't, there might be a position for you." Tom and I couldn't think of a thing to say. "You think about it, then you can come back here, as long as the answer's yes. Right, Jimmy?" The kid behind the counter nodded. Tom and I left.
Tom asked if I believed there was a Mr. Bishop. I couldn't think of why not. Somebody was running this town. If you lived here, you worked at the factory. If you didn't work at the factory, you had your own little shop that was on land owned by the factory people. They got their cut somehow. Even if you stole money off of their employees, they'd have to get their cut.
The police didn't mean much in our neighborhood. Occasionally, some thief would turn up broke with a black eye, and you knew the police had been there and whatever money that guy made off with found its way back to the factory. If Tom and I had stayed at school, if our father's were worth a thing, maybe it never would have happened. Because of a drunk, a kid named Andy and a question mark named Mr. Bishop, we found ourselves in a world too big for us. We would have to grow into it.