The Leap Year Boy

Free The Leap Year Boy by Marc Simon

Book: The Leap Year Boy by Marc Simon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Marc Simon
Tags: Fantasy
    Abe wheeled around.
    A short, bald black man with white mutton-chop whiskers stood three feet away, leaning on a long push broom.
    “My name is Baker, but I ain’t no baker. That’s just a joke. You need some help finding someone, sir?”
    “’Cause the way you was standing there, you looked lost.”
    Lost. That was a good word for how he was feeling. “No, I ain’t lost, I’m looking for number six.”
    The man propped the broom against the wall. “Miss Delia.”
    “Yeah. I got a note for her.” As if he were a schoolboy eager to show his hall pass, Abe took it out of his pocket.
    “You want me to run it up for you? Tell her you was here?”
    “Wait, she ain’t here right now, is she?”
    The man scratched his head. “Well, sir, unless she jumped out the window, and there ain’t no earthly reason why she should, or she done disappeared into thin air, which also ain’t likely far as I know, she’s right there where she was an hour ago, when I brought her up the newspaper. See, I look after this building for the folks what lives here, doing this and that and whatnot, so I know what this one likes and that one likes, and Miss Delia, she likes to read the paper, which, like I said, I took up to her this morning. Now I’ll take that note up to her straightaway if you like.” He held his hand out.
    “No, that’s all right.”
    “You don’t want to give it to her now?”
    “No. What I mean is, I’ll take it myself.”
    “All right then. Whatever you say, sir.”
    They stood facing each other for a moment. Abe figured the man wanted a tip. He tried to hand him a nickel. ““No sir, I don’t take no tips, except for Christmas time, no sir, the tenants here, they took real good care of Baker this Christmas, just like Baker takes good care of them, yes sir. Now did you want me to ring that bell?”
    They were wet with snow flurries by the time they reached her mother’s house. Irene rang the bell.
    Ida came to the door wearing a white sweater over a plaid housedress and a scowl until she saw Alex. “Look who’s here, look who’s here!” she said, and the wrinkles around her eyes and the corners of her mouth receded as she scooped up her grandson and walked back inside, leaving Irene in the vestibule with a snow shovel and the empty stroller.
    In a little-girl-lost voice, Irene called, “Hi, Ma.” She trudged after them into the kitchen. She glanced up at the hand-lettered plaque resting on the molding above the entryway that had been there since she was a child. It read, No matter where I serve my guests, it seems they like my kitchen best . She threw her wet coat over a chair.
    “Look what Grandma has for you, blessed precious, does Alex like Grandma’s extra special rice pudding with cinnamon and sugar on top? Is it sweet enough for the world’s sweetest little boy?” She fed him pudding with a demitasse spoon.
    “Not too much, Ma. He hasn’t had his lunch yet.”
    “What? It’s nearly one o’clock. What kind of mother are you?”
    “Ma, please, I don’t need this today.”
    “Well, I’m just wondering, one o’clock and no lunch, the poor thing.” She put him on her lap and began to feed him rice pudding.
    Irene watched Alex gobble up the pudding, his skinny little tongue working like an anteater. She was gratified that her mother’s attitude had softened toward him—who couldn’t love him?—even if Ida still treated Irene like a misguided teenager. “Ma, remember when I was a little girl, you used to feed me rice pudding and tea and crackers when I had a tummy ache? And ginger ale, too, and you used to tell me stories about far away lands and how one day a prince charming would come for me and I’d live happily ever after. Do you remember, Ma?”
    Alex rubbed the pudding cup over his nose and mouth.
    “I don’t know, I suppose I did. Why are you bringing this up now?”
    Irene put her hands on the sides of her cheeks. “I went

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