“Then the viejo told Petey about it. And Petey laughed too. “You old fool,” Petey said. “You`ve had enough women in you life. Don`t run after babies.” But it did no good. Old Man Ravano grew sick with longing. They are hot-blooded, those Ravannos. He did it in the grass and watched her pass by. His heart ached in his breast.
“He needed money to buy presents, so he got a job in the Standard Service Station. He raked the gravel and watered the flowers at the station. He put water in the radiators and cleaned the windshields. With every cent he bought presents for ‘Tonia, candy and ribbons and dresses. He paid to have her picture taken with colours.
“She only laughed more, and the viejo was nearly crazy. So he thought, “If marriage in the church made Gracie a good woman, it will make ‘Tonia a good woman, too” He asked her to marry him. Then she laughed more than ever. She flung up her skirt at him to worry him. Oh, she was a devil, that ‘Tonia.”
“He was a fool,” said Pilon smugly. “Old man should not run after babies. They should sit in the sun.”
Jesus Maria wen on irritably, “Those Ravanos are different,” he said, “so hot-blooded.”
“Well, it was not a decent thing,” said Pilon. “It was a shame on Petey.”
Pablo turned to him. “Let Jesus Maria go on. It is his story, Pilon, not thine. Sometime we will listen to thee.”
Jesus Maria looked gratefully to Pablo. “I was telling. “The viejo could not stand it any more. But he was not a man to invent anything. He was not like Pilon. He could not think of anything new. The Viejo Ravanno thought like this: “Gracie married Petey because he hanged himself. I will hang myself, and maybe ‘Tonia will marry me.” And then he thought, “If no one finds me soon enough, I will be dead. Someone must find me.”
“You must know,” said Jesus Maria, “at that first service station there is a tool house. Early in the morning the viejo went down and unlocked the tool house and raked the gravel and watered the flowers before the station the station opened. The other man came to work at eight o`clock. He saw the men coming. He put the rope around his neck and stepped off a work bench. And just when he did that, the door of the tool shed blew shut.”
Broad smiles broke out on the faces of the friends. Sometimes, they thought, life is very, very humorous.
“Those men did not miss him right away,” Jesus Maria went on. “They said, “He is probably drunk, that old one.” It was an hour later when they opened the door of that tool shed.” He looked around.
The smiles were still on the faces of the friends, but they were changed smiles. “You see,” Jesus Maria said, “it is funny. But it squeezes you, too.”
“What did Tonia say?” Pilon demanded. “Did she read a lesson and change her living?”
“No. She did not. Petey told her, and she laughed. Petey laughed too. But he was ashamed. “Tonia saud, “What an old fool he was,” and ‘Tonia looked at Petey that ways she had.
“Then Petey said, “It is good to have a little sister like thee. Some night I will talk in the woods with thee.” Then ‘Tonia laughed again, and ran awaya little. And she said, “Do you think I am pretty as Gracie?” So Petey follwed her into the house.”
Pilon complained. “It is not a good story. There are too many meaning and too many lessons in it. Some of those are opposite. There is not a story to take into your head. It proves nothing.”
“I like it,” said Pablo. “I like because it hasn`t any meaning you can see, and still it does to mean something. I can`t tell what.”
The sun had turned across noon, and the air was hot.
“I wonder ehat the Pirate will bring to eat,” said Danny.
Pilons eyes brightened. “I have a plan that I thought out,” he said. “When I was a little boy, we lived by the railroad. Everyday when the train went by, my brothers and I threw rocks at the engine, and the fireman threw coal, and took it in to our mother. Now I thought maybe we could take rocks down on the pier. When the boats come near, we will call names, we will throw rocks. How can those fishermen Get back at us? Can they throw oars, or nets? No. They can only throw mackerel.”
Danny stood up joyfully. “Now there is a plan!” he cried. How this little Pilon of ours is our friend! What would we do without our Pilon? Come, I know where is a great pile of rocks.”
“i like mackerel better than any other fish,” said Pablo.