A Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie story
December 31, 2015
When I got back with the train, the Lonely Guy was still sitting there on the bench across the way, his elbows on his knees, his palms supporting his chin.
I had one passenger, a three-year-old girlchild in a red velvet gown, her platinum-blonde hair done up in dainty little curls. As I helped her out of the little red caboose, I said, “Wow, this is going to be a big year for you. In this New Year, you’re going to double in size and quadruple in brain-power!” To her mother I added, “You might make a smartphone video today, so the two of you can watch it this time next year. She’ll be amazed, by then, by how much she will have changed.”
To this the mom replied nothing, but the little girl gave me a tiny wave as they walked away, saying “Tankyew!” over her shoulder.
I smiled. “Happy New Year, sugar.”
I looked back over at the Lonely Guy, to let him know I was watching him. He cocked his head with a silent “Yo,” the way men have of letting each other know that they have seen each other, and that was that – for then.
I had three rambunctious brothers to deal with, each of whom wanted to ride in – perchance to disassemble – his own train car.
And, yes, Uncle Willie is driving the choo-choo train at the mall this holiday season. It’s a carney job, my favorite kind: Few-questions-asked. And it’s technically a sales job, even though the train, brightly painted in the colors of Lego blocks, sells itself.
“Nothing sells the train like the train,” I say to exasperated parents as their little darlings climb into the train cars on their own, waiting for me to drive them on their five-minute circuit around my corner of the mall. And the chuffa-chuffa choo-choo sound effects, augmented with the high white whine of the woo-woo wail, draw those little darlings to my kiosk in droves.
To the Brothers Rambunctious, I said, “Gentlemen. Remember that you have to stay seated. Do you know (more…)