"So, we're headed to Southie?"
"Yeah, but don’t worry... I know someone. Someplace we can crash."
"That Matt kid? Wasn't he heading out west?"
"Yeah, but he was probably too stoned."
"Seriously. Do we need to get money for a train to New York?"
"Nah. We'll just walk it."
Boy Pierce seemed unamused at this suggestion. This was the first time I noticed that he had no shoes.
"Seriously. It's not that hard."
"Ok. I'll just steal some beef jerky from CVS for food."
"Yeah, or some Snickers bars or something."
"Candy or whatever! But beef jerky is a must. I'll hit CVS and get bags and bags of the stuff."
There was a lull in the conversation as the train surfaced and they tried to get their bearings. Boy Pierce pointed off to the west and asked, "Isn't that Cambridge over there?"
"Yeah, so Southie must be over in that direction." Captain Hoodie was pointing over in the direction of the Museum of Science.
"So where's the rich part of Boston?"
I thought to answer, but I wasn't sure that wouldn’t qualify as aiding and abetting. At that moment, a Very Old Man Indeed rumbled onto the train with his scooter and didn't come to a stop until it looked like the boys were nearly pinned to the far door. Scooter spoke, unintroduced, uninvited, and a touch too loud. "Camouflage! We didn't have camouflage when I was in the army! We had a single color, and it was olive drab."
The boys shifted and laughed uncomfortably, but he just went on. "We didn't need camouflage. We needed to give people something to shoot at."
And then, just as I had begun to be convinced that I was witnessing a 'kids these days' rant, he switched gears. "Of course, they called me a drunk."
Both laughed, and Boy Pierce offered, "Well, a drunk ain't a bad thing to be."
"That's what I told them! Bastards didn't listen, though."
The conversation continued, as did the nervous laughter. Passing strange, the boys seemed to grow more uncomfortable as they found more common ground with Scooter. I want to believe that they had enough self awareness to recognize that they were looking at their possible fate. Scooter seemed to have come across the years to give them a glimpse of their own mortality, and suddenly, jacking jerky didn't have the same immediacy or appeal. On the other hand, they may just have been thrown by being pinned against the door and having their conversation hijacked.
As the train came to a stop, Captain Hoodie nearly lost his balance and lurched forward. Scooter kept smiling and said, "Whoa! Watch that first step. It's a killer."