Tall Tales: Ehud Walburn
Ed snorted, and stroked the blade in his lap. “I don’t pay debts, Benjamin Watkins. I collect.”
The man was a mountain, built from fat slabs of heavy muscle, clad in patched overalls and a pair of dirty working boots. Small, piggish eyes opened under a heavy brow as he stared at me from where he lay on the bench. He sat up and raked a paw through a thick tangle of greasy hair.
It seemed as though he’d been sleeping, so I murmured apology and moved to close the door, having decided fifty cents seemed a right fair price for a plate of grits this morning, when he put a hand on the butt of a pistol poking out of his pocket.
Ed stood abruptly, and for all his monstrous strength, it seemed as if a great weight had been lifted from him. He snuffed the pipe with his thumb, tucked it under his hat, and hefted ‘Otis’ across his broad shoulders. “Goodbye Benjamin, son of Joseph.” He stared at me pointedly for a moment or two and then added, “I don’ b’lieve I’ll remember you.”
“You,” I asked, “you’ll forget the debt?”
Ehud Walburn grinned at me toothlessly, and his hog-like eyes seemed to gleam with primeval savagery. “I can forget you, Ben,” he said, “but Otis an’ me can’t never forget a debt.” He stopped at the little door to the station and looked back at me over his shoulder. “I have me a hankerin’ fer some grits.”