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The Request Part (3 of 4)
“OK,” I said, “I can tell you all kinds of things. Ronald Reagan will be a great President; the USSR will be disbanded in twenty years. Computers will be real great. The telephone and computer will combine to create a device that was yes. as ‘the internet.’ But I prefer the gas prices and the inflation rate here. I could talk about football, baseball, but none of that helps; you have to know tonight.”
“I must know what tonight?” Cole really looked surprised.
“We’ll talk about that later,” I said. I took a deep breath, caught myself, and sighed. I felt for the radio in my dress, and I could see it coming together. “Tell me,” I said, “what will convince you tonight?”
Looking at Cole’s marbles made me nervous. “Tell me what will happen tomorrow,” he said. “And you have to be specific.”
“OK” My jaw clenched as Angie came in, she was stiffened by her base. “Cole,” I said, “I’ll tell you what’s going to happen tonight.”
Cole nodded. Trevor turned towards us.
“So we sit here,” said Cole. “Not much going on. It’s Wednesday…”
“Two things will happen in the next hour,” I said. “First, Sylvia will come home from church.”
“Yes,” said Cole, “there’s a good chance of that, since he lives here.”
“Ah,” I said, “but he won’t go in alone.” I decided to go straight to the mirror despite Angie’s cold look that reminded me of my previous mistake with the hippies. “Hank’s going in with him.”
“Not too shabby,” said Cole. “Hank hasn’t been here for three days, so there’s about an eighty percent chance he’ll show up tonight.”
Trevor held Puddles tight. He walked up to us and licked his lips. “Why is Hank coming,” he said. “Does he have my birthday present?”
“Trevor, Hank doesn’t owe you a present,” said Cole.
“Oh, Hank’s bringing you a nice present, Trevor,” I said.
Cole’s face was red. “Don’t go telling lies to my child,” he said.
“I state fact.”
“Then you’d better be right!”
I mustered up my courage and leaned over him. “In a few minutes,” I said, “Sylvia and Hank will come in. Hank will have a box, a heavy box, wrapped in a red ribbon. He will apologize to Trevor for missing his birthday. In a fight with Tanya and hit the road all angry in his car.”
“You mean his truck.”
“No, I mean his car, the car he just bought at the shop.” I was so happy, I recounted what Hank had told me a hundred times over the years. I did not think that the story could change in the telling.
“I haven’t heard anything about Hank taking a trip or getting a new car,” said Cole.
“Oh, you will,” I said. “He’s going to open this box and there’s going to be a…” I looked towards Trevor, not wanting to give his birthday present away, ruining the surprise. “It’s something to do with horses,” I said. “You know the old saying, ‘locks only count in…’
“Yes, I know the word,” said Cole evenly.
I waited, rubbing the rough thread on the couch. Cole forced a smile and dropped his paper on the floor next to the lamp. I could see lights flickering in the living room through the front street window, and heard gravel being moved by tires.
“My horse!” Trevor bolted and ran for the door.
“Oh my God,” said Cole, rolling his eyes.
Trevor opened the door. He chattered excitedly as he heard the pounding footsteps. Everyone looked at the door. It is open. Sylvia came first, carrying a tattered Bible and a heavy bag. Hank stumbled in next, a large box in his arms.
“Happy birthday Trevor boy!” cried Hank, dancing beside Sylvia. “Sorry I missed it!”
Trevor looked out, confused. “Where is my horse?”
“Your horse?” Hank shook his head. “Sorry, kiddo, didn’t know you wanted a horse, but I got the shoes!” He put the box down; Trevor tore into it.
“What is it?” called Trevor.
“It’s horse making!” called Hank. “Let’s go to the back and play!”
“In the dark?”
“Yes!” Hank took the box and swung it in circles as he walked out.
“Wait!” Cole stopped, mouth screwed up, forehead red. “Hank,” he said, “why did you come here tonight?”
Hank paused, craning his neck to look at Cole. “It’s the kid’s birthday, Cole,” she said. “What, is he in trouble or something? I didn’t know.”
“Hank!” Cole’s face contorted. “Why did you buy Horseshoes, my son?”
“I don’t know, Cole.” Hank stood in the dining room, mouth open.
Cole calmed himself. “Where did you spend the three days?”
“Oh.” Hank dropped the horseshoes on the tiled dining floor. “You heard about the fight? Yeah, I’m sorry. I can be a real ass.”
Cole’s hands shook. “Hank, guess who made the horses, Leo’s?”
“God no,” said Hank in disgust. “To tell you the truth, I haven’t seen anyone since the fight. I left angry in my new car, told myself I’d go for a little test drive, and I got stuck in Newport. While I waited for an alternator. to be shipped in, I stopped in this small fishing shop – never noticed the place before. Then I saw what they do horses in the window, so I remember how it was , you know, that first set of horseshoes dad got us?”
“You think I’m stupid, Hank?” Cole held his finger in a fist.
Hank’s jaw dropped. “Can we back up here a bit big brother? I just drove three hours. I haven’t even been home.”
“You’ve been talking to someone since you got home!”
“No,” muttered Hank, “don’t call anybody; don’t see anybody.”
“No, of course,” said Cole, relaxing. He forced a smile on his trembling lips. “Just playing with you, little brother. Go ahead, play in the dark. This is the best time to play horseshoes, in the dark.”
Hank nodded. “Come, Trevor,” he said, and they went as friends.
“Cole,” said Sylvia, folding her fur coat over the dining room chair, “you look great. Are you okay?”
Cole gave a nervous shaky laugh. “I’m fine,” he said, sticking his hand in his jeans pocket to shake out his keys. “I think I’ll go for a ride.”
I wanted to say something like, ‘hit the nail right on the head,’ but I got up from the chair closed lips. Cole stopped, turned to me, shook his head and said, “What do you want, gold watch?” He said, and afraid of his mess I just stared.
Finally I said, “What now?”
Cole frowned. “Nice trick, Leo,” he said, slapping the CZ hat on him.
“Trick?” My courage is back. “Check it out if you think it’s a trick. Ask Hank; he’d never conclude with me!” The closer Cole got to the door, the more I trembled.
“Leo,” said Cole, “no matter how you pull the trick, it’s still just a trick. What gets me is why you would go to this extreme for this fantasy, this lie.” He turned to Sylvia and scoffed. “He needs the right medicine, the kind that can be found at the nearest black farm.
Anger surged through me as I stared at him from the door. Sylvia rolled her eyes at me, and I tried to stay calm.
“What was that all about?” He said.
“I do not know.”
“I swear I never said you needed medicine.”
“It’s all right,” I said. “Cole out for air. I think I’ll do the same.” I opened the door as Cole’s Harley roared to life. The vibrations rattled the windows. I would have. I showed him all the evidence he needed and he removed me. For him I would always be good for anything Leo, moocher. I would trot in here like it was a family meeting acting noble and lobbying Cole for permission. I didn’t need Cole’s permission. In less than six years Cole would be out of the picture anyway. Then with whom should be Trevor?
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