We did not fight much in my family growing up. Dad and Mom had the final say, often in that order, and that was that. You were expected to have some pretty good reasons to deviate from the plotted course, otherwise just eat the damn pot roast. If that sounds harsh, I disagree. What I learned was that we were in this thing together, a family unit and not just a bunch of individuals thrown together by happenstance. That changed a bit as I grew older, flexed my independence and sarcasm, but I know that if I need help I will always have a place to go, a home. As long as I eat the damn pot roast.
Dave did not have that certainty. He does not talk much about his family or growing up in general. When staff share stories about Christmas or his daddy or whatever, Dave sits back and listens as if he were listening to an explorer describe his adventures in the Congo. I have learned that they moved around a lot with the circus (his father was an professional roustabout) and after getting his GED Dave went into the army. Four years later, Uncle Sam paid for a degree in computer science and eventually he ended up here. And that’s about it for Dave’s history. Until today. Today, we met Dave’s uncle: The Amazing Morty.
“Take off your hat, darlin,” the man in the bedazzled jacket told the little girl.
The little girl took off the orange cap and smiled a gap-toothed grin at the card inside it.
“Was that your card, princess?” Amazing Morty said.
She picked up the card and nodded, holding it out to Morty. He waved one gloved hand at her.
“You keep that, darlin,” Morty said, “It’s got magic on it now. Tonight, you put that card under your pillow before you go to sleep and if it’s gone in the morning that means the magic went into you. Then your life will be magical, princess.”
“I’ll put it with my tooth,” the little girl said, “but, but what if the tooth fairy takes it, too?”
Morty laughed, “Don’t you worry about that, darlin. That old fairy lady knows the difference. Plus, as soon as you go to sleep that magic’ll start working on you. Probably be gone before the tooth fairy gets there.”
Morty glanced over at the girl’s mom, winking. The mother smiled and nodded.
“Come on, Carley. Tell Mr. Morty thank you.”
Carley put her card back in her hat and fit the cap tight on her head, “Thank you, Mr. Morty.”
“You are welcome, princess. Bye bye.”
As the mother and child left, Morty sat down on his trunk and sighed heavily. I walked over to him.
“If you can get them to get off their Gameboys or whatever, the young ones are the best,” he said, “So easy to make happy. So easy to give wonder to.”
“Yeah, try getting them to choose books over DVDs,” I said.
He laughed. I offered him a bottle of water I was carrying. He waved the bottle off, taking a small flask out of his pocket and taking a sip. I frowned at him.
“Don’t worry, lad, it’s only tea. Keeps up the mystic and keeps the drunks from trying to buy me drinks during night club shows. Helps if people think you are as bad off as them. Until you are ready to be, anyway.”
“Well, try not to take a drink when there’s kids around. Anyway, we appreciate the show. The kids loved it.”
“I try. Had to slow down here lately, hands aren’t what they used to be,” he said, flexing his fingers, “Seems your staff enjoyed themselves, the ones that were here. Thought I might see David around.”
I stopped for a second and looked at the old man. He stared into my eyes, sizing me up.
“He’s working on some new computers downstairs,” I said, “You know Dave?”
“I do. My sister’s kid,” Morty said, “Doubt he’d want to see me anyway.”
“I don’t think that’s true, I’ll go get him. Unless you want to come down-”
“No, no, if the boy wanted to be seen I suspect he’d be here. Could you give him a message for me?”
“Tell him his momma misses him. And Clara. Clara misses him something powerful. You got that?”
“His momma and Clara miss him. I’ll let him know.”
Morty stood up and shook my hand with a tight grip, “Something powerful.”
I started across the room, “Let me just go get him, I’m sure he’ll want to-”
When I looked back, the old man and the trunk were gone.