“Who were those guys?” Brig asked the Buddha as they rode a taxi to the mission home. It was 11:45 a.m. and they were cutting it close to their noon appointment.
“Just some thugs that wandered in off the street.”
“No, not them…and they didn’t just ‘wander in off the street,’ they knew the little girl, and they knew you…I mean the guys you were with that came out of the apartment with you.”
The Buddha sighed and considered how to answer Brig. “I grew up in those buildings. I was poor, like most of the kids that grew up in that area. But I got lucky because that little girl’s father took an interest in me when I was just a boy. I don’t want to lie to you. But there some things that I need to keep to myself. I shouldn’t have taken you with me today, but I didn’t have much choice. It was an emergency. I’m sorry you got hurt.”
“What this?” Brig pointed to his fat lip. “Pfft…this is nothing. Those guys were lucky you came along when you did. I was just about to open a big can of ‘whoop-ass’ on them.”
“Whoop-ass? What is whoop-ass?”
Brig laughed. “It means I was about to beat them up.”
“Oh. Right. Haha. I get it. You funny guy.”
“Just trying to help you with your English, Elder.”
“Listen. Before we get to the mission home, what are you going to say about your messed up face? I mean more than it usually is.”
“What do you mean? I’m going to tell them that we got jumped. Why would I lie?”
“No. Not a good idea. They’ll start asking questions and President Woodley will get involved. Then they may call the police, and I don’t want them poking around my neighborhood like that. Discretion, remember? Do me a favor. Tell them you and I were messing around and I accidentally popped you in the mouth.”
“And let them think you got the better of me? Like they’d believe that.”
“Please?” the Buddha turned his fat puppy dog face to Brig and begged. “Please?”
“Who am I kidding? I can’t say no to you!” Brig said gaily, mussing the Buddha’s hair. “But you owe me. Again.”
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