Shy went to knock on Supervisor Franco’s open door but froze when he saw someone was already in there – the older black dude with the funky gray hair who was always writing in his leather notebook. 1
Franco looked up at Shy, said: “May I help you?” 2
“It’s okay,” Shy said. I’ll just come back later.”
You can wait outside. We will be done here momentarily.”
Shy stepped away from the door, leaned against the wall and let his warm eyelids slowly drop. As he listened to Franco’s heavy accent, he tried to imagine his nephew stuck inside the same quarantine room as his grandma. But he couldn’t. Miguel was too tough. Never even caught a cold. He remembered throwing around a football with the kid just a few hours before he left for his first voyage. In the alley behind their building. One of Shy’s longer tosses slipped right through Miguel’s little-kid hands, and the football smacked him in the face, split his lip. But Miguel didn’t go down. Just looked up at Shy as blood trickled down his chin, got all over his T-shirt. He forced himself to smile at Shy, laugh even – though his eyes were filling with tears, too.4
Shy felt a hand on his shoulder and opened his eyes.
The man he’d just seen in Franco’s office was staring at him, holding his shoeshine kit. “How do you sleep standing up like that, young fella?”
“I was just closing my eyes,” Shy said, wiping a tiny bit of drool from the corner of his mouth.
The man grinned. “Franco’s on the phone now. Says he’ll have to check back with you later.”
Still no answers about the suit guy or their trashed room. Nothing to tell Rodney.
The man looked toward the window down the hall. “They’re worried about this storm rolling in. Supposed to hit sometime tonight.”5
“It’s an actual storm now?” Shy had yet to experience even a drop of rain in the time he’d spent out with the cruise ship. But he’d learned in training how badly storms affected the way passengers spent money.6
Which meant fewer tips. Less money to bring back home to his mom and sis.