“I don’t think you really believe that, I think you are just saying a bunch of words,” the man flatly stated.

He filled the chair across from me with huge arms and legs and a puzzled expression. A huge silver cross hung from a chain around his neck.   It was possibly removed from a church altar but looked like a normal sized piece of jewelry on his chest.

Confusion and frustration triggered a tic, his left check twitched and his left eye blinked. He clenched his jaw and ground his teeth back and forth.  I almost reminded him of what his dentist recommended after his last visit but decided against it.  The timing just wasn’t right.

I was about to explain that the maintenance man was not leaving spiders in his bathroom, again, when Lazy Man rushed through the door.

“Puney,” he gasped, out of breath from the short shuffle to the office. His eyes were bleary behind thick lenses.  He wore house slippers and a white t-shirt with a hole in the center of his chest.

“My wallet has been stolen. I’ve torn my place up and it’s gone.  It’s nowhere.  I think I know who took it, too.”

He sighed, “She needs help but I need my wallet.”

Lazy Man sighed again and again.

If Lazy Man was a balloon, he would be almost completely deflated by this time, a shriveled piece of rubber begging for air.

The next day, Lazy Man returned.

He shuffled in wearing tennis shoes and jeans with a clean t-shirt. His eyes were clear and there wasn’t a single sigh on the horizon.

“I just wanted to let you know, I found my wallet. It was in my coat pocket in the closet. I hid it too well from myself.”

He laughed and shuffled back out.   A red balloon escaped from a bundle for a birthday and floated up to the sky, a bright spot of color against the sky of blue.


For Baby


A polished, dark car pulled off of the highway into the parking lot of a rest area/truck stop.  The car parked next to one the last piles of dirty, melting snow, a memento of the long winter.  Crushed beer cans and a bag of discarded fast food was balled up by the trash can.  There was a set of restrooms with glowing vending machines.  Off to the side of the restrooms were wooden picnic tables with a swing set and a rusty slide.  Although being a place to accommodate most people in need of a break from the road, the rest area was eerily empty. 

The driver’s side door to the only car in the lot swung open and a pair of long legs belonging to a woman stepped out in a pair of perfectly tailored and pressed khakis.  She adjusted her sunglasses, straightened her jacket and took a deep breath.  Immediately, she started walking around the snow pile and scanning the brown grass under the slide.  Her phone rang from inside of her pocket; she squeezed it to silence the noise.  She was on a mission and not to be distracted or deterred.


On the way to the rest area, the woman stopped at a coffee house and ordered a double shot Americano.  She thoughtfully stared out the window of the shop with the cup in one hand. 

The woman whispered, “For Baby,” as she brought the cup to her mouth.  

She drank the hot liquid with purpose; it was for the strength and speed to complete her single most important task.


After the woman walked the entire grounds of the rest area, she dejectedly got back into her car.  She put her hands on the steering wheel and pressed her forehead against the cool steering wheel.  She was searching for a sign, a scrap of pink satin or ribbon, a white shoe or sock.  Anything would do, if only she had something to give to the family.

She felt a strange sense of responsibility that weighed heavy on her chest for what happened.  It was a thought on her brain before going to sleep at night and when she awoke in the morning, it was still there.

Baby was out there, maybe buried under that last pile of dirty snow, her dark, plastic lashes closed over real glass eyes, waiting to be found and reunited with her inconsolable four year old owner.