Frank gestures to the Post-it Notes decorating three walls of Phillip's cardboard box. "I know you ain't wrote these yourself, 'cause I know you can't read and write."
Phillip hangs his head. His mother had tried to teach him for four years, slapping him when the words he tried so hard to fit into his brain refused to cooperate. In the end, she'd turned him out, two months shy of nine. He's spent the better part of the past eight years living in cardboard boxes. "The words never stuck," Phillip says now, ashamed.
Frank scoots over to one of the walls and begins reading. "Believe," he says, then snorts. "Why you put these up here?"
"They're pretty," Phillip says. "I like the pattern they make. I got the blues over there and the yellows..."
"Proverbs 27:17. Like I got a Bible on me to look that up." Frank glances at Phillip. "Who wrote these?"
"Evelyn McReedy." Phillip beams.
Phillip shakes his head. "Every day she stops outside and hands me a ten dollar bill wrapped inside one of these notes."
"She sweet on you?" Frank teases.
Phillip feels himself blush. "She never looks at me."
"How you know her name then?"
"I heard her one day, sayin' it into her phone. 'Evelyn McReedy, Attorney.'"
"What you do with the cash?"
"I don't care about the money. I just like the notes."
"Can't eat notes," Franks says. "How she dress?"
"Real nice," Phillip says.
Frank grins and yanks a note from the wall. "Exhaust all possibilities," he reads.
"Put that back." Phillip reaches.
Frank stuffs the note into his pocket.
"Where you going?"
"I got to pay my attorney a visit."
After Frank leaves, Phillip stares at the blank space on the wall. What can he do? Frank is smarter. Bigger. Faster. Frank can read. "Exhaust all possibilities," Phillip whispers. He backs out of his cardboard home and gives chase to Frank.
This was written for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word was exhaust.