edited by professor dan leo
illustrated by rhoda penmarq and konrad kraus
executive producer: kathleen maher
part two of fifteen
to begin at the beginning, click here
“Take this a minute, will you?”
Dick handed me the box with the doll in it, then he took out his cigarette case and his lighter.
“I’m smoking entirely too much,” he said, taking out a cigarette, closing the case, tapping the cigarette on the lid of the case.
He stared up the street, in the direction of Mr. Arbuthnot’s shop, the church, and beyond that the Acme parking lot, across which diagonally was Pete’s Tavern. He pocketed the cigarette case, lit his cigarette, glanced at me shyly and briefly.
“Okay, I’m going now,” he said.
But he stood there, holding his cigarette.
Then he turned and walked away, crossing the street, walking quickly, tossing his cigarette into the gutter.
I stood there and watched him go, merging into all the other people walking on the sidewalk, all of them trying to enjoy their lives, I stood there and watched, I don't know why, and then I saw Dick cross Washington Street at the end of the block.
Then I realized that I was still holding the grey cardboard box with the doll in it.
But by this time Dick had already disappeared beyond the corner of the church, he would be jaywalking across Ocean Street, going diagonally across the Acme parking lot, past the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile and across Jefferson Street to Pete’s, to the girl he loved.
Should I run after him?
But then by what law had I to run, rather than walk?
But if I walked rather than ran then I’d have to go into Pete’s again to give Dick the doll. Who knows what else would happen there, or even on the way there? I might never make it back to the Ugly Mug this night. And after all Elektra was still waiting for me, presumably.
No. Enough madness for one night.
I would keep the doll for Dick, give it to him tomorrow at Mrs. Biddle’s. That was the sensible thing to do.
Then the top of the box pushed open.
The little dark-haired, dark-eyed doll in the Victorian costume had pushed the lid off. I held the lid in my free hand to keep it from falling to the pavement.
“That’s right, Arnold,” she said. “You can give me to Dick tomorrow. Now let’s go inside. I’m interested to meet these friends of yours. All right, now close the lid. Let’s get a move on.”
I put the lid back on the box.