Teddy’s first words to
had been these: “Hey kid. I hear you’re
smart. That’s good. I’m smart too. Smarter than you. Listen.
I met your mother at the gas station a week ago and now we’re getting
married. Might sound crazy, but that’s
how it happens sometimes. You’ll
understand someday. Now I know that many
guys in my spot would tell you a bunch of happy gooey shit. They’d say that they aren’t trying to replace
your Dad. They’d ask if you want to
throw the baseball around, and then they’d buy you a pizza. But I don’t throw the baseball around. And who is your Dad anyway? You don’t know, right? You don’t know, I don’t know, so fuck
him. I’m telling you now; I am going to replace your Dad. Your Dad is the bastard, not you. From this moment forward, call me Dad,
because that’s who I am. What’s your
“Good name. Now your last name is Capers.”
“I’m going to marry your Mom, and I’m going to be your Dad. Call me Dad one time.”
“One more time.”
“Good. Do that in your head a few more times. It’ll make it easier. Whenever you see me, just think the word ‘Dad.’ ‘Dad Dad Dad Dad Dad Dad Dad.’ You don’t have to say it out loud. Just think it. As many times as you like. You’re a good kid. I like you. We’ll change your name after the wedding when you’re legal.”
Waiting for the elevator,
Quincy felt dizzy from the cascade of
reflective lights, the irregular sing-song chimes of the slot machines, the
clatter of ice and glass, and the occasional peal of laughter. He could not see where any of the flashing lights—blue,
yellow, red, white—were coming from.
“You like games, right, Quincy?” Teddy asked.
“Well then, this is your town. Everything in this building is a game. You’d love it . . . if you like to lose money. Unless you learn how to play poker, I guess. That’s something you can win at. But hardly anybody wins at poker.” The elevator door opened. “Hey, tell you what. First thing when we get back, I’ll teach you how to play. We’ll find out if you’re smart enough.”
They entered the elevator. The doors sighed shut and they began to descend.