What Channel Is Big Brother On Tonight Because Of Football The Request Part (3 of 4)

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The Request Part (3 of 4)

“Okay,” I said, “I can tell you all kinds of things. Ronald Reagan will be a great president; the USSR will dissolve in twenty years. Computers will be really great. The telephone and the computer will combine to create a device known as a ‘internet’. However, I prefer gas prices and the rate of inflation here. I could talk about football, baseball, but none of that helps; you should know that tonight.”

“I must know what tonight?” Cole really seemed taken aback.

“We’ll talk about that later,” I told him. I took a deep breath, calmed down, and sighed. I reached for the radio in my coat and could see how it came together. “Tell me,” I said, “what will convince you tonight?”

Cole’s marble gaze made me nervous. “Tell me what’s going to happen tomorrow,” she said. “And be specific.”

“Okay.” My jaws closed as Angie walked in, bitter at her punishment. “Cole,” I said, “I’ll tell you what’s going to happen tonight.”

Colle nodded. Trevor turned to us.

“So we’re sitting here,” Cole said. “Not much happens. It’s Wednesday…”

“Two things will happen in the next hour,” I said. “First Sylvia will come home from church.”

“Yes,” Cole said, “there’s a very good chance that is, since she lives here.”

“Ah,” I said, “but she won’t come alone.” I decided to step on the ice despite Angie’s cold look that reminded me of my previous mistake with the hippies. Hank will go in with her.

“Not bad,” Cole said. “Hank hasn’t been here for three days, so there’s an eighty percent chance he’ll show up tonight.”

Trevor gripped Puddles tightly. He slid toward us, licking his lips. “Why is Hank coming?” he said. “Does he have my birthday present?”

“Trevor, Hank doesn’t owe you a present,” Cole said.

“Oh, Hank’s bringing you a present, Trevor,” I said.

Cole’s face flushed red. “Don’t tell lies to my son,” she said.

“I am stating a fact.”

“Then you better be right!”

I steeled myself and leaned towards him. “In a few minutes,” I said, “Sylvia and Hank will be coming in. Hank will have a box, a heavy one, wrapped in red ribbon. He’ll apologize to Trevor for missing his birthday. The fact is, he got in a fight with Tanya and got out to the highway crazy in his car”.

“You mean his truck.”

“No, I mean his car, the car he just bought at the store.” He was elated, recounting what Hank had told me hundreds of times over the years. I didn’t think the story could have changed in the retelling.

“I haven’t heard anything about Hank taking a trip or buying a new car,” Cole said.

“Oh, you will,” I told him. “He’ll open that box and there’ll be a…” I looked over at Trevor, not wanting to give him his birthday present, ruining the surprise. “It’s something he has to do with horses,” I told him. “You know the old saying, ‘close only account on…’

“Yeah, I know the saying,” Cole said evenly.

I waited, rubbing the rough threads on the sofa. Cole forced a smile and dropped his newspaper on the floor next to the lamp. I could see flickering lights in the living room through the street window and heard gravel being moved by the tires.

“My horse!” Trevor got up and ran to the door.

“Oh my gosh,” Cole said, rolling his eyes.

Trevor opened the door. He chattered excitedly when he heard feet pounding on the steps. They all looked towards the door. He opened up. Sylvia arrived first, carrying a worn Bible and a large bag. Hank staggered in next, a huge box in his arms.

“Happy birthday, boy Trevor!” Hank yelled, dancing around Sylvia. “Sorry, I missed it!”

Trevor looked outside, confused. “Where is my horse?”

“Your horse?” Hank shook his head. “Sorry kid, I didn’t know you wanted a horse, but I’ve got the shoes!” He put the box down; Trevor tore it up.

“What is?” Trevor yelled.

“They’re horseshoes!” Hank yelled. “Let’s go back and play!”

“In the dark?”

“Yes!” Hank picked up the box and spun it in a circle as he walked out.

“Expect!” Cole rose to his feet, his mouth twisted, his forehead scarlet. “Hank,” he said, “why did you come here tonight?”

Hank paused and craned his neck to look at Cole. “It’s the kid’s birthday, Cole,” he said. “What, is he in trouble or something? I didn’t know.”

“Skein!” Cole’s face scrunched up. “Why did you buy Horseshoes for my son?”

“I don’t know Cole. Hank was in the dining room, gaping.

Cole calmed down. “Where have you been the last three days?”

“Oh.” Hank dropped the horseshoes on the tiled dining room floor. “Did you hear about the fight? Yeah, sorry. I can be a real jerk.”

Cole’s hands trembled. “Hank, whose idea was the horseshoes, Leo’s?”

“For God’s sake, no,” Hank said in disgust. “To tell you the truth, I haven’t seen anyone since the fight. I went out angry in my new car, told myself I’d do a little test drive, and got stranded in Newport. While waiting for an alternator to be shipped, I stopped in this little fishing shop, i never noticed the place before and i saw these horseshoes in the window, so i remembered what it was like, you know, the first set of horseshoes that dad bought us?

“Do you think I’m stupid, Hank?” Cole clenched his fingers into a fist.

Hank’s jaw dropped. “Can we back up here for a bit, big brother? I just drove three hours. I haven’t even been home yet.”

“You’ve talked to someone since you got home!”

“No,” Hank murmured, “I haven’t called anyone, I haven’t seen anyone.”

“No, of course,” Cole said, relaxing. He forced a smile onto his trembling lips. “Just playing with you, little brother. Go ahead and play in the dark. That’s the best time to play horseshoes, in the dark.”

Hank nodded. “Come on, Trevor,” he said, and they left as friends.

“Cole,” Sylvia said, folding her fur coat over the dining room chair, “you look haggard. Are you okay?”

Cole gave a nervous, shaky laugh. “I’m fine,” she said, reaching into her jean pocket to shake out her keys. “I think I’ll go for a walk.”

I wanted to say something like, ‘hit the nail on the head’, but I got up from my chair with my lips closed. Cole stopped, turned to me, nodded, and said, “So what do you want, gold watch?” He said, and afraid of messing it up, I just stared.

I finally said, “What now?”

Cole frowned. “Nice trick, Leo,” he said, putting on his CZ hat.

“Trick?” My courage returned. “Check it out if you think it’s a trick. Ask Hank; he would never collude with me!” The closer Cole got to the door, the more he made me flinch.

“Leo,” Cole said, “no matter how you pulled off the trick, it’s still just a trick. What bothers me is why you would go to such lengths for this fantasy, this lie.” He turned to Sylvia and scoffed. “He needs medication, the kind that can be found at the nearest nut farm.

Anger washed over me when I saw him strutting out the door. Sylvia turned her gaze from her to me and I tried to stay calm.

“What was all that about?” She said.

“I dont know.”

“I swear I never said you needed to take medicine.”

“Okay,” I told him. “Cole went out for air. I think I’ll do the same.” I opened the door as Cole’s Harley roared to life. The vibrations rattled the windows. I had won. I showed him all the evidence he needed and he ruled me out. To him I would always be the good-for-nothing Leo, moocher. I trotted here like it was a family reunion acting nobly and pressing Cole for permission. He didn’t need Cole’s permission. In less than six years, Cole would be out of the picture anyway. Who would Trevor stay with then?

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