“I saw your mom’s work the other day. In a magazine.”
“Hmm,” Daniel said. There was a speck of dust on the snout, a tiny white dot on the field of lacquered black. He pressed his fingertip against it and then brushed it off onto his pants.
“What does ‘hmm’ mean? She’s good.”
“Do we have to talk about her?”
“Just making conversation.”
“Can we make it about something else?”
“How’d you get here?”
“I drove and slept in the car.”
“Most of the way. I took a train to Omaha and then bought this piece of junk.”
“That must have cost you a fortune.”
They looked at each other for a moment. Daniel spent money as if he had it; Jackson made him feel guilty about spending it—particularly if it meant he was spending it on him. “It wasn’t much. I worked all summer.”
“Did you get here today?”
“Last night.” Jackson arranged a bunch of mallets on a table. He caressed them, seemed to love them, like hand bells.
“How’s the neighborhood?” Daniel said.
“Everyone is moving out. When I say ‘everyone,’ I mean white people. They want sprawling lawns and away-sloping driveways.” Whole blocks were boarded up, with barren streets, entire zip codes reassigned to governances of pigeons and smudges of humid weather. A lot of Memphis looked like this. A lot of America looked like this.