They stepped onto the sidewalk, both of them with three scoops of ice cream in a waffle cone. Fergus's was vanilla.
"What do you see over there, Tomas?" Fergus gestured toward the McDonald's across the street.
"McDonald's. Why? What?"
"Do you know what I see? I see the three buildings that used to be there before they got burned out. After that, it was just an empty lot, and then MickyD's came along and built on it. I think it was better as an empty lot - but that's just me."
"When I was a kid, the corner building was Melody Way Sweet Shop, next door was the cleaners and next to that was Otto's Fine Meats, the best butcher shop, ever. Once in a while, my mom would have saved enough money and she'd buy ribs for us, for dinner, and I'd spend the whole day smellin' those things cookin' up." Fergus closed his eyes and took a deep breath, as if the memory woke the smell in his nostrils, again.
"Hey, man. You gotta a point to all this?'
"I'm sorry, Tomas. I got lost ... listen, you see McDonald's, like it's a fact of life or something. Like it's always been there. Like it always WILL be there. But I see different. I see change. I can remember when this was a strong, vibrant neighborhood, although I didn't think of it in those terms, then. I just knew that I knew everybody and everybody knew me, and I was safe here. I was comfortable here. This was HOME, and that meant something. But things change. Neighborhoods change. Times change. People change. Parents die and friends move away and sometimes the new people aren't as good or nice or as friendly as the people they replaced. But it's all part of Change, and after a while you learn to deal with it or get rolled over by it."
They started walking down the street, in the direction of the bay window with the light on.
"You're going to change, Tomas. That's going to happen no matter what. What we have to manage is the direction that change takes. I don't think you're a bad kid. I want to make sure it stays that way."
"How you gonna do that?"
"We have to walk back to the house. There's a business card I want to give you - someone I want you to see, tomorrow, after school. He's an investigator I use and he's looking for an assistant."
"Oh, man. COOL!!"
"No, man. He's not going to turn you into Dick Tracy. He needs someone to do record keeping and office work. I hope you type."
"Everybody types, man. Computers, you know? And Texting."
"Good. Just make sure you see him tomorrow. Otherwise, he's going to be looking for YOU to take your ass to the cops."
"Really? For what?"