Gangster and the Student - Part 4

If you missed Parts 1, 2 and 3, this link takes you to the full story.

Part 4 of 4.

Three months later Max returns for a study break beneath the mountains. He calls at the food van first. Maddie's friend Chrissie, serves a customer his coffees. She sees Max and squeals with delight, running from the van to hug him. It's now off-season for the food van so she doesn't get as many hours, but she's so happy.

He goes inside and Patrick's looking after the food. He greets Max with a beaming smile. He runs things when it's quiet, then Ma comes in for the busy times. Max is interested in his hours. He's now full time and working long hours but it's what he wants.

Max assumes the living arrangements have improved. Patrick and Chrissie just moved into a shared rental. Max raises his eyebrows but Patrick reminds him of his long friendship with Chrissie. Nothing's changed except when Maddie's not with her folks, she hangs out at their place. Max wants to know if they have enough money and Patrick smiles again. Billy Banner knew the owner of the holiday house, so he suggested renting it to Patrick and Chrissie cheap, or he might end up with squatters in it, so it's a bargain for them.

Ma buys groceries for them. She won't admit it, but every week they find a big box of food at the door. Patrick and Chrissie are thankful for what Max has done. Patrick struggles to express how good it feels when people come along and change your life. Max gives him a hug and waves to Chrissie as he leaves.

He stops outside Billy's house, who sees him and calls from the front door, "Get in here. I've got something to say to you!" Max looks straight into Billy's eyes as he walks in. "Sit down!" says Billy while Flo and Ma make the drinks. Billy asks if Max has been to the food van yet. Max shakes his head in disbelief at what he saw. He feels 10 feet tall. Taller than Billy. Billy tells him not to push his luck. Maddie comes in, all smiles and laughter. She hugs Max and they're all seated.

Billie says, "I'll tell you something. I watched you walk up to the house just now. You walk different now. You hold yourself different. I see your eyes and they're focused. Max, you put your hand out to shake mine. No one does that to me. You're proud and you're not afraid of me anymore. What you done in this community is a good thing and because you were smart enough and brave enough to take on my family, a lot of people know about you.

I done something to you Max to leave my mark so you'd always remember Billy Banner. You took it and you came back and left your mark on me in your way. You left a big mark 'cause you got me a second chance with my daughter and you helped those homeless kids at the food van. Flo says you're 18 now. I used to look at you and see a scrawny little punk, but no, not now. From my family you've learned about life - good and bad. You gave back to my family and our town more than you took from us. Now when I see you, I see a man, because of what you done".

Maddie's crying and Ma puts a box of tissues in front of her. This is what she wants to do when she grows up. She wants to help people and figure out how to put things together so that no one has to suffer. If Max helps her to know what to do, then she's got this. Of course he wants to help her but fixes his gaze on Flo. She gives her approval.

Photo: DanielFoster437 on Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA