Jean-Claude Beauvais, a story
Book 6 - LAST TWO WEEKS IN NEW YORK
Chapter 111. What are you going to do about it
Double-checking to make sure the sheets were numbered, I set the sheets in the portfolio, closed it, and gave the portfolio to Jacob, who knew what to do with it.
“Tell them, I may have art for the cover.”
Jacob nodded and left through the door to the hallway.
Ollie had about five more pictures to title.
He went on, “And this one…”
Ollie passed it to Louis, who wrote.
Louis passed it to Dashiell, who stacked it on top of the previous snapshot.
What a family might be like came to me, as I watched Dashiell, Louis, and Ollie creating a family history.
I felt my face smile.
Jacob said, “Lunch will be in a half-hour”, walked to the door to the fore deck, and went outside to inform the Tissots.
Across the table, two little heads popped up and looked at me.
“Leave everything just the way it is now. After lunch, we’ll come back and finish.”
We left, cleaned up for lunch, and returned to the lounge.
The boys sat at the table;
Dashiell sat on a well-cushioned chair. I sat at the piano, playing some show tune, and the boys sat at the table, facing me, their backs against the table.
Dashiell got up and went to the table.
The boys watched an odd-looking boat passing the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse.
Dashiell asked, “Where is the picture of Ollie by the Little Red Lighthouse? The one showing Ollie looking at the tadpoles.”
“Isn’t it on the table? I left it on the table.”
“I don’t see it.”
“I’ll walk over this afternoon and have a few copies made. The photo shop is just two blocks from Carl Schurz Park, on First Avenue.”
The door opened; “Lunch is served”.
Jacob held the door and we entered the dining room in a line; Dashiell, first; I, last.
We settled in our chairs. The Tissots and Monsieur Laurent were already at table.
I leaned back and told Jacob in English, “Friday is the tall one’s birthday. He’ll be thirteen.”
I said, “Don’t say his name or he’ll know we’re talking about him.”
“If we could have something for him, like a surprise, after dinner?”
“He will remember it.”
In French, I added, “You can take care of that for me?”
“Yes. I’ll try to do it.”
Stoically, Jacob returned to the doorway, leaving the boys not privy to our planning.
The phone rang.
Jacob went to answer it.
He handed me the phone.
“Yes. Hello. Monsieur Karlsen.”
“Let me ask him.”
In French, I asked, “Louis. The Karlsens, Victor and Ella, want to know if they can come over for the afternoon?”
“He says, “Sure. He is looking forward to their arrival.”
Louis asked, “What time?”
“Louis wants to know what time they may arrive.”
“She says, ‘I’ll turn them loose about two’.”
“Louis says, ‘I’ll be looking for them’.”
Mis’ess Karlsen said, “They want to know if they can wear their swimsuits.”
I said, “Of course.”
“Okay. I’ll tell them. They want to sit in the Jacuzzi and act grown up.”
“By the way, Friday is a certain party’s birthday. We’re having a party after dinner, about…”
I looked at the door; Jacob held up seven fingers; I nodded.
“… about seven.”
“Terrific. I’ll see you, tomorrow? A trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We’re leaving at eight-thirty.”
“Saturday, we’re going to a concert in the park.”
“At the Main Stage. Just follow the signs to the Main
Stage, or come with us, in the cars.”
“Take a picnic basket, and lots of drinks. The kids are thirsty all the time they’re there.”
“Fireworks, after the concert.”
“No. It’s a family affair. No rowdiness. The police keep an eye on the noisy people and haul them away.”
“Okay. If there’s anything else you want to know, just call.”
“By the way, Sunday, we’re going to the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse. The kids are anxious to see it. We’re going to take a picnic and stay there for a while, so the kids can get the ‘lighthouse fever’ out of their blood.”
“One or two.”
“Okay. Do you want to know about Monday?”
“I agree. That’s too far away. Too much can happen in the meantime.”
“Then I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I called the Galegos and reminded Mister Galegos of our trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, tomorrow.
I told him of the ‘tall’ one’s party, on Friday, after dinner, at about seven, the concert in the park, and the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse picnic.
“Saturday or Sunday, we can organize next week.”
“Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Okay. I’ll see your wife and the family, tomorrow.”
“I understand someone has to make the money in the family. I don’t go back to work for another three weeks.”
“I’ll tell you, when I see you. It’s a long story.”
In a few minutes, our next four days synchronized with our Swedish and Portuguese friends.
I sipped my wine and had a few bites of lunch.
Louis stared to a small powerboat.
“Look Dashiell. Somebody’s going to land on the island.”
Dashiell replied, “Does the island have a name?”
Ollie’s head swiveled, zeroing in on the little boat, by the little island.
Ollie announced, “The crewmen in the pilot house call it, ‘Mill Rock Island’.”
“Do people live there?”
“No,” Ollie said, “The city owns it and doesn’t allow anyone to land there.”
“I don’t know. I didn’t ask.”
Louis watched the boat, waiting for it to make a stop at the forbidden island.
Ollie returned to whimsically drawing in his dessert’s whipped cream.
“Are you going to eat it or play with it?
“You want the truth?”
“I think I already know the truth, but I want you to prove me wrong.”
“I want to finish my photographs.”
He pushed the dessert plate away from him.
Dashiell asked, “How can you waste that wonderful dessert?”
Ollie pushed the plate across toward Dashiell.
Louis’ eyes followed the moving object.
Dashiell pulled the plate towards him.
“Louis. Half for you and half for me?”
Louis passed his plate to Dashiell for a refill.
Dashiell cut the dessert in half and slid half on to Louis’ plate.
While the dessert discussion panned out across from me, Madame Tissot said, “We’re going to the park, this afternoon.”
I responded, “Have a nice time. We were going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, tomorrow.”
“We may stay home and rest.”
“You do what makes you feel best.”
She flashed her warm smile across the table toward me as she and Monsieur Tissot rose to leave.
Monsieur Laurent added, “I’m going with you to the museum.”
“Excellent,” I responded. “By the way, there are post cards in the souvenir shop.”
Ollie’s head silently bobbed up and down, twice, as he gazed through the starboard dining room windows at the traffic rolling along the East River Drive.
“I’ll check out the post cards tomorrow. This afternoon, I’ll endure a peaceful nap… until I wake up.”
“You have the perfect plan. Monsieur Laurent.”
He and I smiled, as he rose and left.
Dashiell and Louis worked on the last morsels of their dessert ‘seconds’.
“Dashiell. Ollie, Louis, and you are finishing your photo work in the lounge?”
They looked at each other; Dashiell said, “Yes.”
I said, “I am going to the photo shop around three.”
Dashiell asked, “At three?”
“Yes. The zoo pictures will be back from developing. I want to pick them up and have a few copies made.”
“Of the picture, we were talking about?”
“I wonder where it went.”
“Oh… it’s around… somewhere.”
I turned to Macaulay, by the kitchen door.
“How about a nice tall, wet, wine cooler?”
He nodded, left, and returned with a tall wine cooler, with good-sized piece of ice.
“Thank you, Macaulay. Perfect.”
Louis and Dashiell finished and pushed away from the table.
Dashiell, looking at Ollie, asked, “Shall we?”
Ollie pushed away.
The Three Musketeers filed out of the dining room, into the hallway.
I turned to Jacob.
“Is there anything I need to do for the birthday party?”
“No. It’s all set. Parties are a specialty on private yachts.”
I left with my wine cooler to find the negative for ‘the’ picture.
Jacob, as always, trailed behind me, to the lounge.
I went to my desk and started looking for the picture.
Opening one drawer at a time, I worked down one side of the desk, to the bottom drawer. Nothing.
Jacob came to me and asked, “What are you looking for?”
“I had a picture of Ollie squatting on a rock, looking in the water.”
He went to the bookcase and returned with the photo.
“Exactly. Where was it?”
“It was left on the table. I put it on the shelf, so it wouldn’t get lost.”
Louis, Ollie, and Dashiell finished their photo titling adventures. Ollie left to get some photo albums. Louis left with him to go to the security gate to wait for Ella and Victor.
Dashiell stood and stretched.
I told him, “Here’s the photo. It wasn’t lost. Jacob put it aside, for safe keeping.”
“May I see it, again?”
I lifted the photo, offering it to him.
He took it, turned away from the light to see better, and gave it back to me.
“Then we’re not going to the photo shop.”
“I’m still going to pick up the yesterday’s zoo photos.”
“I may be working. Give me a yell, before you leave and I’ll go with you.”
“See you then.”
Dashiell left via the hallway door.
Selecting two New York City ‘picture’ books, I set them on the table and was about to sit down to learn about the Roosevelt Island lighthouse, when I realized for the first time, in a long time, I was alone.
Even my shadow, Jacob, wasn’t by the door.
“Horribile dictu!” left my mouth, aloud, for my ears, only.
My piano’s solace felt most appealing.
With the keyboard beneath my hands, and with my eyes staring into the rippling East River, I struck a note, a single note.
My eyes closed; that waning note comforted me, until Ollie burst through the door beside the piano, startling me, and announced, “Here’s my album”.
“When I’m working, come in quietly.”
He dropped his photo album on the bench and pressed himself against me, saying, “Sorry.”
Like the first snow, I melted instantly.
“Look before you storm in.”
“I will. I promise.”
He offered his hand.
We shook hands; a contract created.
“Enjoy your pictures.”
I closed my eyes and struck the note again. Nothing.
The image of Ollie at the Little Red Lighthouse was stuck in my mind.
Resigned to my dilemma, I played “Ollie and the Tadpoles”, relieving my angst.
As I played, I opened my eyes and glanced across the room at Ollie.
He sat at the table with his back to me. His head bent over his work. His shoulders and torso reinforced my mental image of him, bent over the tadpoles at the Little Red Lighthouse.
I finished “Ollie and the Tadpoles”, took a sip of a wine cooler. I looked to Jacob and mouthed, ‘Thank you’. He nodded.
I smelled something strange…
As a kid, in Canada, I learned adults feared a boy with mucilage.
I sat down, beside Ollie, and watched.
Systematically, he slipped three photo corners on a photograph, meticulously applied mucilage to the backs of the corners, and aligned the photo with its corners on the album page to his suiting. He waited a few seconds for the mucilage to set, pressing the three corners to the page. He removed the photo from the three corners, slid the fourth corner on the picture, deftly added the obligatory mucilage, and slid it into the three previously glued photo corners, on the album page, pressing the new corner, to ‘fix’ the mucilage.
After the photo was set, he sat back, observed his handiwork, expelled an almost silent sigh of approval, reset his bottom in his chair, and turned the page to add more photos.
As I watched, I reveled, as if he performed magic.
“How did you learn to put the photos in the album?”
“Henri showed Louis how to do it and Louis showed me.”
“Louis’ photography friend.”
I watched he repeated his operation. Each time, it was a new adventure of testing the corners, the mucilage bottle’s rubber tip, the spreading of the mucilage, and on and on. He delighted in making every step, perfect. Somehow, I was sure he would find a niche in the world, where his proximity to perfection, was the hallmark.
“That song you played,” he said, “it’s a catchy tune. What’s it called?”
“There are two versions of it. One is the song version and the other is the concert version.”
“Wow. It must be famous.”
“It could be.”
I reached across the table for the two New York books and pulled them to me.
“I was going to read about the Roosevelt Island lighthouse.”
“Would you read about it, to me?”
I thumbed through the index.
“Roosevelt Island Lighthouse, 187.”
I opened to 187, and there was a black and white photo of the lighthouse, from the north side.
I began translating into French, “In 1872, the City of New York built a lighthouse on Blackwell Island, which was called Welfare Island from 1921 and is now known as Roosevelt Island. A penitentiary, a house for the poor, a city hospital, the New York Lunatic Asylum, and a smallpox hospital are on the island.
. The supervising architect, Mister James Renwick, Jr. …”
I carefully pronounced the name in French, and afterwards in English.
I looked at Ollie. His head rested on his upheld hands, elbows on the table, while he gazed into the white puffy clouds, over Manhattan.
I finished reading the last paragraph.
I added, “We’re going there for a picnic, Sunday.”
I raised my voice.
“Oh. I remember something…”
“Yes… at home, when we looked at clouds in the ceiling.”
“Yes, when we sat in the settees and looked at the clouds in the ceiling.”
“What was best about that?”
“I remember one time, you were on the phone, and I laid on the settee next to you, my head on your leg, for a pillow, and I watched the clouds. You were talking English and I made believe you told the clouds which way to go. I watched them as they did what you told them to do.”
“I don’t remember that.”
He said, “I do”, with a little smile, rolling his eyes to mine.
“Here comes Louis with Ella and Victor.”
“Are they going swimming?”
“No. They’re going to the Jacuzzi.”
“I’d like to go swimming. I want to finish my pictures.”
“Dashiell and I are going to walk over to the photo store and pick up the pictures from the zoo. Do you want to come with us?”
“You finish your photo album. I’ll be with Dashiell. When you’re done, put your album away, and come get us. Okay?”
“Don’t be daydreaming in the clouds; finish your project.”
“What’s a daydream?”
“Ask me when you’re done. Okay?”
“Okay. I won’t forget.”
I put the two books on the shelf, returned to the table to grab my napkin and my half-filled wine cooler, with a lovely piece of ice in it… and headed to the hall door.
I stopped, turned, and said, “When we come back, we’ll leave the photos on the table and then clean up for dinner. We’ll look at the zoo pictures before dinner. After dinner, Louis and you can title the pictures… and maybe you’ll have time to put them in an album.”
He didn’t say anything. He resumed his photo album endeavor with renewed fervor.
I prompted him, “How’s that sound?”
He said, “Fine,” as he tested the rubber tip of the mucilage bottle with a squeeze.
Dashiell’s door was wide open.
His stool, on board, unlike his squeaky stool at home, was silent.
As I entered his world, he said from behind a large stretched canvas, “Hi, Jean-Claude. What have junior and you been up to?”
“He’s more like you, every day.”
“Like me? You’re kidding. He’s nothing like me.”
“You don’t live with him and you; I do.”
“I want him to be himself… not me.”
“Every day, he becomes more like you. Don’t upset yourself… maybe he wants to be like you. You know, Jean-Claude, he watches you all the time and emulates things… even little things he sees you do.”
“I never noticed, really.”
“Watch him with his napkin. I sit across the table from you and him. You and he are like twins at the table. He makes the same moves as you, handling his food, silverware, and glassware. Whatever you do, he does exactly the same.”
“I know you’re kidding me.”
Louis went by the window.
Dashiell yelled at the window, “Louis.”
I asked, “Something wrong?”
“No. Just hold on a second.”
Louis came in the studio.
Dashiell said, “Close the door. Louis.”
Louis’ face took a terrible turn from delight to terror.
“Who acts just like Jean-Claude at the dining room table?”
With worry still heavy in his voice, he said, half questioningly, “Oliver...”
“Don’t look so upset. You’re not in trouble.”
He looked at me; I shook my head, negatively.
“Why do you say he looks like Jean-Claude? Jean-Claude has brown straight hair and brown eyes and Ollie has curly golden blond hair, and blue eyes.”
“Everything Jean-Claude does, Ollie does. It’s as if they were doing some kind of precision swimming or ballet … or something like that… and Ollie watches him, too, all the time. I’ve see him watch Jean-Claude do something, and then he tried doing it, to try and do it like you do it. That happens all the time.”
Outside, Ella yelled up the stairs, “Are you coming down, Louis?”
Louis looked at Dashiell and back at me.
“Go have a good time. We’re walking over to the photo store to pick up yesterday’s zoo pictures, at three. Behave yourselves, while we’re out. Jacob will be watching. I don’t want to hear ‘stories’.”
He smiled, “I’m always good.”
Dashiell added, “And when you’re bad, you’re very good.”
“What does that mean?”
“Don’t worry about it,” I said. “It’s an old joke. Go have a good time with your friends.”
He went back into the hall, pulling the door behind him. I opened the door. Dashiell liked the door open.
I heard the outside door in the hallway snap closed.
I said, “Don’t encourage him… telling him adult stuff, Dashiell.”
“In two days, he’ll no longer be a boy. He’ll be a young man.”
“I’m sure that scares me, much more than it bothers him.”
“He tells me stuff, you know.”
“What kind of stuff?”
“The things he thinks about. The other day, I think we were at the Riverside Church. He stopped and said, “Look at Ollie and Jean-Claude.” Ollie and you were walking along the side of the church. Ollie was stretching to take very long strides, trying to match your steps. When you stopped, he stopped, and turned, exactly in step with you. Your head went up; his head went up. You looked to the side; he looked to the same side. It was amazing to watch the two of you.”
“You’re kidding,” I said. “It’s that bad?”
“He’s just doing kids’ stuff. He’ll get over it in a while.”
“Did you ever do that?”
Dashiell shook his head. “I don’t think so.”
“I remember one morning, watching Grandpapa, in the dining room at Lake Pennyworth Place, stir cream into his coffee. Later when he left the dining room, I tried adding cream to my coffee. I tasted it and slid my coffee toward Grandpapa’s setting. I poured a fresh cup of coffee in another cup. Since then, I never again put cream in my coffee.”
“The only thing he does, that you don’t do…”
“Yes,” I interrupted.
“When you’re on the phone with Jay or Cyprien and looking away from him… when you are concentrating on something… perhaps… he’ll pour his coffee in a bowl and drink it. He knows you don’t like his drinking from his bowl, but he’ll try and get away with it, when he thinks he can.”
“Good for him,” I said, “I’m glad he’s does have some urges of his own.”
“I’m sure he has all kinds of urges, but most of them are to be like you.”
“Louis and I have fun watching you and him. I’m pretty sure we both agree, living with two Ollies or two Jean-Claudes is okay.”
He paused… then added, “There are a zillion worse possibilities” and laughed from behind the canvas.
“What are you working on?”
“Not yet… Maybe after dinner.”
“You want a sip?”
“No. I’m still full from lunch.”
I heard a hall door open and then Jacob’s voice.
In the hall, Ollie said, “Okay”.
He arrived in the doorway.
“Hello,” he said.
He sat beside me, on the seat between Dashiell and me.
“You want a sip?” I asked, offering him my wine cooler.
“Just a sip.”
He took the glass, holding it like me, with the napkin between his fingers. He must have practiced holding the napkin that way, quite a bit. Even with his tiny fingers, expertly, he manipulated the napkin and wine cooler glass.
“Thank you,” flowed graciously as he returned the glass and napkin with one hand.
“How did you learn to do that? Ollie?”
“Learn to do that?”
I heard a quiet laugh from behind the canvas.
“Did you finish putting your pictures in your album?”
“Yes. I finished putting pictures in my album”
“Did you put everything away where you found it?”
“Of course, I put everything away where I found it. If I don’t, you get after me.”
Dashiell stood up, stretched, and looked over the top of the canvas.
“Are you ready?”
I nodded and said, “Yes.”
Beside me, I heard his soft “Yes.”
Dashiell’s and my eyes met.
I stood up; Ollie stood up.
I felt little fingers wrap around two of my fingers.
Wiping his hands, Dashiell said, “Let me clean up. I’ll join you, two, in the lounge, in five minutes.”
“We’ll be outside, by the gangway.”
“Okay. I’ll meet you, there, in five.”
Ollie headed for the canvas to peek at Dashiell’s work.
Dashiell raised his finger to Ollie.
“No. Not yet.”
Ollie took a step backwards, bumping backwards against me.
Reflexively, I put my hand across his chest to steady him.
He latched on to my hand and pressed it against his little chest.
Dashiell gently said, “Maybe after dinner… when it’s dry.”
I felt Ollie’s hair move as his head followed Dashiell to the hall doorway.
“Okay, Tiger. Outside, we go.”
“Outside, we go.”
Ollie wanted to walk to the foredeck.
We walked toward the foredeck with Ollie to my right. He tried to switch to my left side.
He wanted to look in the window at the canvas, while it was drying.
I turned around.
“No. We’re not going to sneak a look. Dashiell owns the image on the canvas. Peeking at it, without his permission is like stealing.”
“Don’t be sorry. You didn’t know how to respect an artist’s work. Now, you do.”
“Do you understand what I meant?”
“I think so. Dashiell owns his work and when he is ready, he’ll show it. Looking, without his permission, is wrong. Sneaking a look is like stealing.”
Swedish and French laughs floated by from the Jacuzzi.
“No. Let them have their time together, without us barging in on them. When you and Louis are talking, you don’t care for me sitting next to you, listening, do you?”
“Then, you can understand they don’t want us sitting around watching and listening to them, then, don’t you?”
“I guess so.”
I turned to him, made eye contact, and asked, “You understand. Don’t you?”
I smiled and put my finger to my lips.
“Let it be.”
“Let it be” echoed.
Dashiell arrived loudly, coming down the starboard stairs, two at a time.
Dashiell asked, in English, “Have you talked to Ollie mimicking?”
In French, casually, he continued, “Nice breeze, this afternoon.”
“And a moderate temperature.”
Normally, I would not have noticed, but I heard Ollie quietly say ‘température’; he paused and repeated it.
I wondered why he repeated ‘température’.
Dashiell glanced at me. Apparently, he heard it, too.
In English, I asked, “What is that about?”
Dashiell laughed and responded in English, “You, of all people, should know.”
“You’re into sounds.”
“What do you mean?”
“He’s copying your accent.”
“My accent? What accent?”
“He reiterates what you say in his Marseille accent, and then replicates it, in your accent”
“I just never noticed.”
“I didn’t either, until Louis pointed it out to me, at dinner, one night, on the way across the Atlantic. Ever since then, Louis and I listen for the difference, whenever he speaks. Either he talks like Louis, hitting every syllable like a machine gun, or he talks smoothly, as you do.”
“I just never noticed.”
We passed the security gate and turned south.
The traffic was noisy, along the East River Drive. We crossed through the park to East End Avenue, walked up the street to the photo store.
We picked up the developed photo bags, and returned to East End Avenue. In the park, we stopped and bought three small Dixie cup ice creams, with the flat, wooden spoons. I snagged a few extra napkins and stuffed them in my jacket, just in case.
Summer afternoon ice cream enthusiasts sat happily buzzing and eating ice cream, in the park benches near the vendor. A water fountain sat in the middle of the crossing of five footpaths, a few feet away.
We walked under the little land bridge.
There was Peter Pan, surrounded by a floral display, a circular walkway, and lined with park benches. We sat on the shady side of Peter Pan, and opened the paper sanitary covers to our wooden spoons. Next came the fun part. We opened our ice cream cups, which were still hard. Dashiell had a ‘Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis’ lid, I had a ‘Roy Rogers’ lid, and Ollie had a Lion.
After the obligatory licking of the ice cream from the inside of the lid, we worked on the ice cream, listening to the birds singing and traffic in the distance, until Ollie yelled, “. Aycuray.”
I looked at Dashiell, who looked at me.
I said, “Where, Ollie?”
He pointed up in a tree. I looked and saw a squirrel, with a twitching tail, sitting on a branch.
Neither Dashiell nor I had any idea what an ‘Aycuray’ was, until I spotted the squirrel.
The three of us watched and ate ice cream from flat, wooden spoons, until the squirrel disappeared in the trees.
When we finished our dairy delight, we wiped our cups carefully with our napkins.
We rose. I carried the picture bags. Ollie held his cup and my cup.
We returned under the land bridge to the fountain, filled our cups with cool water, and ‘washed down’ our ice cream.
Ollie asked, “May I keep the tops, with the pictures?”
“Okay. Wash them off and make sure they’re clean.”
“I’ll make sure they’re clean.”
The cups, we threw away, with the napkins and wooden spoons.
We walked across the park and back to the yacht.
Dashiell said, “Louis is playing his piano.”
I simply said, “Yes.”
There was the tiny echo.
Again, Dashiell’s and my eyes met.
Going up the walkway, I turned to Dashiell and said, “It could be worse.”
“It could be worse,” Ollie said.
Dashiell added, “Yes, it could be.”
I looked at Ollie.
“I’ll meet you in the lounge, in a minute. I have to talk to Louis for a second.”
“Here. Take these to the lounge with you.”
I gave him the photo bags.
“Don’t open them until after dinner.”
I went to Louis’ piano room.
“Louis. There’s a note you’re missing, consistently.”
“You’re playing an A sharp. It should be an A.”
He looked worried.
“Nothing to fret about. Slide over and I’ll show you.”
I played the piece for him, the way it was supposed to be played, then I played it with the A sharped.
“Did you notice the difference?”
“Yes. But the music shows an A sharp.”
He thumbed through the pages until he came to the section in question.
“See. There is the A,” he said.
“Then it’s wrong. Who printed the music?”
On the bottom of the page was Armed Music Company, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
“I’ll get you a good copy, when we’re near a music store.”
Louis was puzzled and asked a very normal question.
“How do you know you’re correct and the music is wrong?”
“Because the music was written before anyone would have written or played the music with an A, instead of an A sharp. Today, we can listen to it with ‘that’ sound and not find it painful. That was not true, when he wrote the music.”
“I’ll call Lenny after dinner and he can tell them about the mistake. I’m on vacation.”
“I’m on vacation, too.”
“Are you mimicking me?”
“I want you, to be yourself… and Ollie, to be Ollie.”
“He adores you.”
“Ollie says you help people and fix problems. He says he wants to do that when he grows up.”
“I wish I were as wonderful, as he thinks I am.”
The ship’s bell rang.
“Let’s see what’s happening.”
We went into the hallway and out the port side door.
“Just a boat full of tourists. Let’s wave to them. They’ll have something nice to talk about.”
Louis and I waved and the tourists returned the wave.
Ollie came out and waved with us.
As the tour boat passed, I turned to the boys.
“When we’re done here, we’ll clean up for dinner and meet in the lounge. After dinner we can look at our zoo pictures. After the pictures are done, we’ll go to sleep and get a good night’s sleep before we go out tomorrow to the Metropolitan Museum on Fifth Avenue.”
“That’s the place with the two lions on the side of the steps. Right?”
“Yes, Ollie. The place with the two lions on the side of the steps.”
Crossly, Ollie looked at him.
Ollie didn’t say anything, but I suspected he knew what the joke was. He wasn’t amused, at all.
The tourist boat turned into the Harlem River, trailing its wake, quickly obscured by the current from the Hell Gate.
I followed the boys up the port stairs to the staterooms.
They went to their stateroom and I, to mine.
Dashiell was sitting outside on our private deck, working on a wine cooler, in the afternoon sun.
I went outside to spend a few minutes with him.
I sat down; he opened his eyes.
He squinted and asked, “What was the toot all about?”
“Tourists… The boys and I waved to them and they went away, up the Harlem River.”
He sipped his wine cooler.
“Want a sip?”
“No. I’m still working on the ice cream. I don’t know how you can drop wine on top of a Dixie cup of ice cream.”
He raised his glass.
“Let me show you how it’s done.”
He took another sip.
“See. Not difficult at all… and it tastes better than ‘machine water’.
I laughed a little.
“I want to tell you what Louis just told me.”
Dashiell sat up, put the wine cooler on the side table, and turned on his lounge chaise, to listen.
He said, “I was hoping for a before-dinner story”
“This started when I pointed out a mistake in the music to Louis and we somehow got to talking about Ollie. Louis said, ‘Ollie adores you.’ I told him, ‘I wish I was as good as Ollie thinks I am.’ He said, ‘Ollie says you help people and fix problems. He says he wants to do that when he grows up.’ That’s when the ship’s bell rang. We went outside and waved to the passing tourists. Ollie came out to see what was happening. I told the boys to clean up and said something about getting a good night’s sleep, because we’re going to the museum tomorrow. Ollie asked, ‘That’s the place with the two lions by the stairs. Right?’ I told him, ‘Yes, That’s the place with the two lions by the stairs.’ It never occurred to me I had just repeated his words, verbatim.
Louis laughed, hearing me echo Ollie.
Ollie looked at Louis, shot him a dirty look, but didn’t say anything. I could see Ollie knew why Louis was laughing and didn’t like it.”
“What are you going to do about it?”