Behind the voodoo shop was a large courtyard with a few picnic tables. This was their makeshift meeting place in the Quarter. The patio was surrounded by buildings on three sides and had a ten foot high wall with a gate that opened onto St. Ann Street. As George, Buddha, and Max all arrived with the candles, Tex and Spider were talking to an obscenely tall kid about their age. The boy was six foot nine, skinny, and his arms were adorned with the tell tale tattoos of a Simon City Royal. His elbows had huge six point stars, one forearm said ‘No pity’ which was the mantra of the Royals. Tex started to help George bring in the candles when George asked him, “Who’s the stilt?”
“Summer replacement.”
“To replace who?”
“Us. Spider has a plan for an adventure.”
“He’s affiliated?”
“Cinnamon roll,” Spider chimed in as he walked in the gate. Sweet Cinnamon Roll is a derogatory term for the Simon City Royals because they call themselves SCR’s for short. The Royals were actually a tough bunch and the boys gave them their props, but Spider at 115 pounds and five foot four wouldn’t even give the devil his due.
The boy explained how he had been sent to alternative school for excessive disciplinary action. He got in a lot of fights. His name was Rodney Dyson, but everyone called him Rowdy. He told Spider he preferred it if people just called him by his name, to which Spider chuckled to himself.
“So look,” Spider said, “we all grew up together.” He pointed to his ICG tattoo fresh on his shoulder. “Plus, we’re brothers.”
Rowdy made a gang sign and said, “I feel ya.”
“But since you’re Mrs. Muriel’s nephew and you go to a wussy school like Jesuit now, you’ll work out.”
The boy chuckled and started to help with the candles. Max, who came up to the pale giant’s waist asked, “Do you play basketball?”
Before her could answer, Julian Polk came through the gate and interjected, “Him? Gosh no.” Julian had been released from the hospital and wore a huge bandage over his face and neck. When asked if he should be out of bed, he said he was going crazy at his Mom’s and to please let him just stay busy. The fact that he didn’t seem affected at all by the bullet hole made the boys treat him like normal.
Buddha said, “I seen you play. Can’t dunk, can’t block, can’t dribble.”
“Hey, it’s my first year!”
Spider said, “Just tall, can’t ball,” and shook his head.
Tex chimed in, “Hey, Just Tall, the Saint Christopher candles go here. I don’t think Saint Christopher wants to stand next to Santa Muerta.”
So much for not being called by nicknames.

The boys went back out to discuss the upcoming adventure. Spider had explained the gist of the plan. They were going to take a bicycle trip all the way to visit Buddha’s Grandma in Hastings, Minnesota, just outside Minneapolis/St. Paul. The logistics, schemes, covers, alibi’s, and the fact that the Dyno was worn out leaving them one bike short, was where the King, Buddha, and Tex needed to plan.
The store phone rang and Spider answered it with his extra-thick Hispanic accent, “Marie Laveux’s, we got what chew need.” He waved with one hand, meaning for them to be quiet.
George whispered, “Mrs. Cara.”
Buddha took a drag of a cigarette and handed it to Rowdy. Before he could grab it, Julian Polk, who had been coming in the back gate as the phone rang, snatched the cancer stick and stepped on it. He turned and snatched another from Spider’s lips and smacked him on the back of the head.
“Pinocho,” Spider cursed, then immediately responded, “I’m sorry, Mom! I know Mom. Please, Mom, the hospital?” Spider went back to nodding his head and listening to Cara’s tale.
Julian said, “If I was ten years younger I’d show you a Pinocho.”
Spider piped up, “And if I was two feet taller, I’d kick your… Mom, it’s Julian. Yes, Mom. I’m sorry, Mom. Yes, I know, you’re right. I wasn’t raised that way, Mom. Everyone is standing right here.” Spider turned to talk to his Mom in private.
Julian said, “Two feet taller still wouldn’t get you to my nipples you midget mother…”
Julian never finished the expletive because Spidey dropped the phone and rushed him. Julian caught Spider in a headlock and they tumbled into some potted plants locked in mortal combat.
Just Tall stood up in alarm.
Tex said, “They do this all the time. It means Julian’s feeling better and Spider missed him.”
“Looks like they’re gonna kill each other!”
“They’ll trash half the shop and stay half the night laughing about it fixing everything,” Buddha added.
Max exclaimed, “The phone!”
Rowdy picked up the phone and said, “Sorry Ma’am,” and then his face went glazed over like he was seeing stars. He just nodded, “Yes, Ma’am. Okay Ma’am. I’ll remember, Ma’am. Yes, Ma’am. Thank you. Bye-Bye,” and hung up.
Buddha and Tex and Max laughed as Buddha said, “Where do they say bye-bye?”
Rowdy, still in a sort of daze, said, “She sounds beautiful.”
Spider who was sitting on the back steps catching his breath charged Rowdy, hell bent for leather. Before the lunatic Latino could reach the boy, Julian snatched him out of mid-swing.
George yelled, “Spider, he didn’t know! He’s new!”
“Let’s take a walk,” said Julian, who was one and half plus Spider’s height and more than twice his weight, went out the back gate carrying a still-squirming Spider.
The boys erupted in laughter.
“Man, he is sensitive about his Mom,” Max observed.
“Sorry, I didn’t know, but she sounds hot.”
“Hot doesn’t begin to cover it. She is robot fine,” George said.
“George, what does that even mean?” Tex asked.
But he didn’t get to answer because Rowdy came out of his daze fully and said, “Oh yeah. She said someone named Boogie is awake and just got kicked out of ICU for smoking.”