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Shaking hands push the money across the wooden counter. A small splinter, a drop of blood. He takes it greedily, then looks back up at the burnt face.
"You sure about this?" The slave looks at the money in his hands, so foreign to the both of them. So precious.
"I'm not afraid of the law.” The man chuckles, something else foreign.
"Not about the law, 'bout the money." The slave's tired eyes wander back down to the precious coins. Three of them, silver lined with gold, imprinted with the continent and His face. Each one was an adventure, but the slave remembers the purpose of his efforts.
“I’m sure.” The slave sucks on his finger, the taste of blood rushing to his taste buds. The Toy Maker pushes the wind-up monkey across the counter, making sure to be careful. The slave grabs it quickly and turns to leave, being stopped at the sight of the shop.
Metal trinkets and wooden knick-knacks lay strewn across tables and shelves, unlikely to be sold. A luxury job like Toy Making might sound lucky, but the truth lies on the floor with forgotten toys.
Before exiting for home, the slave makes a last remark to the lonely storeowner.
“That’s for your kids’ mouths.” The slave knows many women who walk the streets searching for men like the Toy Maker, a lonely man with money. Out of the corner of his eye, the slave sees the Toy Maker give him a solemn nod as he steps into the dirt street with his bare feet.
Jimmy’ll be happy, the slave repeats to himself over and over in his thoughts. He hides the toy in his right pocket, where the hole is too small to let the toy fall through.
He can barely hide his excitement.
Thoughts of Jimmy’s reaction give him ample assurance as he begins to run, unusually smiling on his way home. The huts of the other slaves pass him, many of them half-collapsed. The slave made sure that Jimmy’s home was stable when he chose the hut.
After reaching the door and leveling his breath, he opens the door. Jimmy must hear the loud creak in the door, but he does not falter from his gaze out the window. The slave stops for a moment to guess what Jimmy was looking at. The window is merely a whole in the wall, and its view consists of a sliver of the dark sky above the adjacent hut.
The floorboards seem extraordinarily loud as the slave goes across the room. Finally, he taps Jimmy on the shoulder, and the child’s grave face turns to the slave.
“Jim, I got you a present.” For a second his face doesn’t change; Jimmy expects a piece of fresh bread he found on the floor or half rusted nail. After a moment he senses the slave’s excitement and grins.
“What is it?” The slave doesn’t answer, the impact of the smile sinking in. “Pa?”
The slave reaches into his pocket and pulls out the monkey.
“Oh my God, pa! Where… where’d you-”
“It’s my secret; let’s not fret over it. I want you to play with it.” Jimmy’s smile turns a confused frown.
“We could have bought food, Pa!” The slave’s happiness can’t be tarnished.
“Please, just play with it.” Jimmy realizes that the toy is more important than food to his father right now, so he takes it.
“You have play with me.” The slave bends down to the ground where Jimmy begins to wind up the monkey. They watch the monkey’s body convulse as the little machine gets ready.
“Let go, Jimmy.” One look up to father, and he puts the monkey to the ground.
It’s an amazing sight, watching something so small walk and clap its hands all on its own. If only life only needed something so simple as someone to wind you up every morning. The slave falls in love with the toy, and as it begins to slow, he picks it up to wind it again.
But the kink in the floor snags onto the foot of the monkey, pulling it off. The slave doesn’t realize until he winds it up and tries to make it walk again. Instead, it falls over and spins in a circle.
The slave tries to wind it up again, but Jimmy stops him.
“No! You have to play-”
“We did play. Now it’s broken. Let’s sleep, Pa, before the dogs come by.”
Tears begin to roll down the slave’s wrinkled face, burning a path through his dry skin.
“No, I’ll get the Toy Maker to fix it; it wasn’t right; it fell off when I was walking home…”
“He’ll tell on you, Pa.” The slave had lied, he is afraid of the law.
“Oh, Jim, I’m so sorry.”
“Pa, it was so great. Thank you so much. I love you.”
“I love you, Jim. I love you.”
He hugs him and carries him across the room to the bed, where he kisses his forehead until Jimmy falls asleep and the barks drive the slave mad.