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THE BOOKCASE PART II

THE RETURN HOME

The Galactic Red Wagon

I am proud of myself, conducted good business with Claire, affording me the chance to conduct even better business at the Jewel Food Store.

I’ve a wagon full of cookies, peanut butter, tuna fish, bread, ham, cheese, cereal, milk, celery sticks, apples, milk, orange juice, oh Wendy, you’re in for a treat. To help my journey along I managed a quick pre-made sandwich, and now with more strength I am rolling right along, smiling and waving at all the passersby, let them all know I am returning home with the goods.

On the way home I’m in good cheer, whistling and humming and singing and dancing and throwing pieces of bread to the birds and the squirrels, let’s all enjoy a feast.

I’ve got enough to go around, bought four loaves, all for one dollar. I think I did pretty well today; maybe someday I will be a real businessman like that Howard Hughes guy or something.

Maybe I will hire Lenny, give him a real job so he doesn’t have to go around anymore acting like a big shot and driving around town with those phony guys and their big phony cars. Oh, the possibilities are endless.

Home, the journey now complete. I pull the wagon along the house to the backyard. Wendy’s out there, sitting on the bottom step. “Ricky,” she says, “where did you go? And what’s in that stupid wagon? What’s in those boxes?”

“Wendy,” I say, “get ready for a feast. I went to the Jewel Food Store and in the boxes I’ve all kinds of good things. Peanut butter, cookies, ham, cheese, bread, all kinds of good things to eat.” Wendy jumps up; all of a sudden she appears the happiest little girl in the entire world. Oh yes, this is how it’s supposed to be. Miracles do still exist, don’t they? “Come on, Wen, help me carry these groceries into the house.

After securing a nice lunch I engage Wendy with another one of my famous Big Bear stories and she is listening intently, giggling and laughing and carrying on like an eight-year old sister’s supposed to carry on when her older brother is telling her Big Bear stories.

And then suddenly Mother appears, drunk and asking Wendy what’s so funny. Wendy tells her about the stories and then about the big lunch I made for her and then Mother goes to the fridge, opens it and says loud enough to awake the dead. “Where in the hell did all this food come from, dammit?”

Wendy looks at me admiringly and then at mother and says, “Ricky went to the Jewel Food Store.” Mother then slams the refrigerator door so hard that the entire house shakes, maybe the entire neighborhood and then turns to me with killer eyes and a pointing finger.

“You lousy bastard,” she screams. “And to think that Chet stole my food stamps. So it was you who took them, didn’t you?”

“No Mother, I didn’t.”

“Don’t lie to me. How else did you manage to buy all this food, huh? Certainly not from the money in your piggy bank! Because there isn’t any money in your piggy bank. And probably never will be either. You’re not anything like your brother who knows how to make a buck. But not you. You’re disgusting. I don’t want to see your face, did you hear me? And to think that Chet stole my food stamps, he would never do that, he loves me.”

I am dizzy, so dizzy now and I’m going to vomit. I run into the bathroom, fall to the floor before the toilet. My lunch will now be a feast among the hungry sewer rats. Maybe they’re more deserving of it than I.

Father Overlooking His Son

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