A guy hops out of the U-Haul and stretches while I stroll down the sidewalk. He's cranking the rear rolling door open and I say, "Hey, moving in?" because I'm a banal asshole.
He turns around, smiling, wearing these gigantic black sunglasses and a huge mountain man beard. This dude looks like the kind of guy I always wanted to be. He says, "Yup, sure am. Murph Norris," he sticks a hand out.
"John Leland, nice to meet you." We shake.
"Yeah, you too."
"So…" I say. I'm bad at this sort of thing. "What brings you to town?"
"Change of pace," he says, shrugging. "Looking for a new job and this seemed like a good spot."
"Ah. Anyone else on the way?"
"Nope, just me. Don't have any family."
"Need any help with the truck?"
"Sure. Thanks." For the next couple hours while we chuck the stuff into his house, Murph tells me all about his life. He drops a bomb. "The first thing that you need to know, just so you don't hear it from someone else . . . " he says. "What I said about looking for a new job? That's true. But it's been hard because I just got out of prison."
We're hauling a couch across the middle of his lawn and I stop, holding one end, giving him this look like I'm about to take off running. He says, "No, don't worry though. It was nothing serious. You know, I didn't shoot anyone or anything. It was just embezzling."
"Oh." We start walking again. "That's rough."
Because you know, I could see myself embezzling one day with enough money on the line. Prison makes him infinitely more interesting. I want to know all the details. Look at me. The closest I ever got to prison was Sunday school. "What was it like?" I ask.
"I had it pretty easy," he says. "White collar criminals, we go to federal resorts. I had satellite television in my cell. You have no idea. I did a lot of reading."
"Yeah. It makes finding a job a bitch though."
"Yeah, you mentioned you were looking for work."
He snorts. "Yeah, but I have a felony. You know anywhere that doesn't care if you have a felony on your record?"
"Actually," I say, "I do." I pause for a moment before continuing: "I'm with the Republican party and . . . "
Dialogue: Torrey Meeks.....The Next Line: Pacatrue