Martin continues to not make an appearance at the Coney Island, and when Ret checks in there during his still-days-later search for Glasseye, Mac, mildly grieving, follows him outside. To Mac's immense satisfaction Ret now owns an automobile. Ret does not seem displeased by it himself.
Parked along the curb is a 1968 convertible Delta 88. With rare volubility Ret explains this is his first vehicle since leaving the service. He's been saving up, beyond support of his mother, sister and her crippled husband and another younger sister, plus the time was right, having to cover so much ground lately
Mac had thought Ret simply didn't like cars. He'd never heard of anyone not having one on a purely financial basis. He asks how much. "Two-hundred and fifty US dollars." "Not bad."
Ret lets slip he might not have it long if Glasseye has left town, support of their grandmother falling solely upon him in that instance. "Hey--I'll help you find him--" Ret demurs, noncommittal. "Really--I'll go with you."
"Naw, man I know you got things to do."
"Believe it or not, I don't."
"Maybe some other. . ." But Mac's face looks for all the world like it's about to say please, and Ret doesn't know if he can stand to hear it. After some indecision and much glancing around the sidewalk they get into the car and embark down DeSiard.
Before long Mac notices they are repeating patterns around Third and Fourth, circling between DeSiard and Louisville. "This here's downtown--we ain't going to find him around nowhere close. We'd better head down to Burg Jones--don't y'all live right around Winnsboro road?" Ret pulls over by the newspaper plant and seems to be thinking.
"Maybe Martin is at the Coney Isle by now--you want me to take you there?"
"No, that's okay man, I'll just help you out tonight." Ret insists on putting the top up. Holes in the fabric and all.
Down Burg Jones Ret is recognized and saluted in typical fashion by other vehicles and soft-shoulder pedestrians, nods of the head, a soft raised palm, the pace down here musical, rolling. Unpainted cinderblock washaterias, fried chicken enterprises, abandoned sno-cone stands. The upper limits of the zoo runs along the asphalt, evidenced by mysteriously-bulged hurricane fencing.
Mac is noted with obvious confusion. Perhaps some active dismay. He waves cheerily to all.
Soon Ret has them in other neighborhoods, heading north up Jackson and out Louisville. "I keep tellin' ya--he won't be around here, but that's cool, I don't mind riding around." They're all the way to Thirty-First when Mac enthusiastically calls out a brief set of directions; Ret obliges, coming to a halt in the lot of an apartment complex. They sit in the car, looking up.
"See that window with the lights out on the second floor, next to the corner? That's where Martin lives. He does a lot of his articles right there. Types them on a computer and mails them to the plant by phone line. We won't go up because whenever you don't see him around he's probly working. He's busy a lot. He only lets people inside on special invitation."
When Mac seems to be through looking at the dark window Ret drives on, finding the anonymity of the Highway 165 Bypass. He grimaces; the gas needle. Forced to stop at a convenience store, he chooses one that looks like it would have mainly white folks there. Mac purchases both of them machine-dispensed frozen margaritas.
Mac urges Ret to turn on the radio. "It only gets AM." Mac looks dismayed. "Aint no good, man," Ret mutters.
"Yeah, all that's for is talking and redneck music anyway." Ret, more ill at ease as this goes on.
Mac chugs his margarita quickly and recalls something Ret said earlier. "Your little sister--I mean, I didn't know you had one." Ret doesn't volunteer a word; intuition gets a little star on the forehead. "She's cute? Got a boyfriend, huh?" Ret manages an oblique shrug.
"Let's cruise on by there."
Ret twists his neck at him: Where? And what for?
"Think she'd go out with me?"
"Man--let's don't get into that."
Mac's silent for a while, sucking the straw. "Is it because I'm white?"
Ret's sigh is a small invocation of despair.
"Hey, that's cool--I just wanted to know. She has that right. It's down with me. Like, I've dated black girls," Mac stammered, "but, but that's me--it doesn't matter to me. Any color's as good as another, and I guess I can tell you this, some of my best dates have been with colored gals. Some real cute ones, too."
Mac waits a while. "It's because I'm white, huh?"
All Ret's energy is gone. He knows nothing to do but surrender; "Yeah, that's it."
"Like I say, that's cool."
Ret turns west at the five point intersection onto DeSiard again. Smells of asphalt, trees, open-barrel barbeque.
"Vietnam, huh. I watched Apocalypse Now about fourteen times."
No revelations forthcoming here. Ret's face is a granite marker.
Ret glides right through the red at Renwick. "I tell you, I got nothing but respect for you boys going over there." Nothing volunteered from the drive. They coast past the overgrown original black cemetery near Eighteenth; the Olds rolls smooth, pneumatic, big.
Ret pulls to the curb and leaves the car in drive. Mac cranes to look into the Coney Island, but it's empty other than Paletello, fiddling with the scanner. No Glasseye, no Martin.
Mac contorts further, as if it's possible to be overlooking some lone tortured figure. "Well. Come on in man, let me buy you a chili dog."
"No thanks, man. I gotta go."
Mac looks back inside at the emptiness, then at Ret again. Mac's fingers drum on the passenger door, his head twitchy in the way a sparrow harbors intimations of an insect.
Ret's voice is soft. "Hey. Martin show up soon."
"Yeah. Listen," he says quickly, "Sorry about your sister. If I ever met her, man, I wouldn't bug her. That was just me talking."
"It's okay, don't worry about it."
"Yeah, sure. Thanks for coming along tonight."
"You'll find him. I got my eye out." Mac does a power salute. Ret does not laugh. The Olds rattles off down DeSiard with a sound like receding thunder.