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Gideon and a Turn of the Crank
“Doing anything special at school today?”
The boy shook his head and glanced outside the window of the taxicab, ignoring the man sitting next to him.
“I heard Billy Jagger is playing Joseph in the pageant,” said the man.
“It’s Yah-ger, Dad,” said the boy.
“Yah-ger,” repeated Dad, nodding, “Right.”
“And he’s playing the angel Gabriel. I’m Joseph.”
“Oh wow,” said Dad, raising his eyebrows, “That’s fantastic, kiddo!”
“I don’t want to be Joseph.”
“Mary-Lou is playing Mary, and she’s weird.”
“Well,” said Dad, “I think it’s kinda appropriate that she’s Mary.”
“I don’t,” said the boy, looking at the people flashing by, “She’s got the cooties.”
“Give her a chance. Maybe she’s different. Maybe you guys will be a great couple.”
Dad shrugged. “You’ve still got a job to do.”
“Yeah,” said the boy, “Whatever.”
“I’ll be there for the pageant.”
“We’re going together,” said Dad.
The boy nodded.
“Hey, speaking of mum,” said Dad, taking his cellular phone out, “It’s Friday. Know what that means?”
“Mum’s going to pick you up after school.”
“Because,” said the man, pausing as he looked at the screen on his phone, “It’s just the way it is.”
“But I don’t want mom to pick me up,” said the boy.
“Why not?” asked the man, lowering his phone
“She makes me walk home.”
“Oh.” Dad glanced back at the phone.
“Or we take the bus. But I’ll miss Gideon and the Lady of the Lake either way.”
“Didn’t I get you the tapes?”
“That was last season, Dad,” said the boy.
“Well, I’ll get you the new season as soon as it F.A.O. has it in stock.”
“Really?” asked the boy, quickly turning to face the man.
Dad put the phone away. “I promise.”
“Thanks,” said the boy, turning back to the window.
“She lets you watch, right?”
“Yeah, but only one show. Mom makes me have dinner with her at the table.”
“I’ll talk to her,” said Dad, “You should be able to watch while you eat.”
“She’ll just get mad again.”
“How do you know?”
“She always gets mad at you.”
“It’ll be alright.”
The boy shrugged.
“Hey,” said Dad, “I’ll see you Friday after next.”
“Why?” asked the boy, “It’s always the same.”
“You know,” said Dad, “My job. I’ve got a lot of business trips to make and stuff.”
“Can’t you take me on one of your trips?”
“Well, sure. But I don’t think you’ll have much fun.”
“I don’t care.”
“You know, it’ll pass by quickly if you don’t think about it.”
“Whatever,” said the boy.
The boy studied the door next to him. He reached down for a crank to roll the window down.
“Hey, Dad, can you help me open the window?” asked the boy, “I can’t get this thing to turn.”
“Sure,” said Dad. The man reached over and tried to turn the crank on door.
“Can you get it?” asked the boy.
“Nope. It seems stuck.”
“It’s hot in here,” complained the boy.
“We only have a few more blocks to go,” said Dad, returning to his side of the car.
“Does your window work?” asked the boy.
Dad tested the crank on his door. The window rolled down. “Yep, my window works.”
“Can we swap?” asked the boy.
“We’ll be there in a few minutes,” said Dad, “we’ll just have to swap back again.”
“Okay,” said the boy.
The cab was silent for a few minutes.
“You know,” said Dad, “You’d make a terrific Joseph, Mary-Lou or not.”
The car glided to a stop. “90th and Madison,” said a voice from the front of the cab.
“Thanks,” said Dad to the voice. He turned to the boy, “Your stop kiddo.”
“See ya,” said the boy, opening the door. He stepped out and began to walk away.
The boy turned around. Dad motioned him to return.
“Here, take this,” said Dad, shoving a bill into the boy’s hand.
“Wow!” exclaimed the boy, “Twenty dollars?”
“Now, now,” Dad waved his finger at the boy, “It’s for the cab so you don’t miss Gideon when mum picks you up. The cab only.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Be good,” said Dad, closing the door of the cab, “I’ll pick you up week after next.”
Dad sat back and sighed, watching the boy run off and become indistinguishable within a sea of children.