When David was Surprised
Today is Sunday, and David is excited. On Sundays, Mother and Pop and David usually go to church, then out to brunch at Uncle Bob's Pancake House. But this Sunday is different. Mother, David and Pop are all going to see a Broadway show in New York City. It's been a long time since David went to see a show. When David's spending money was stolen at Uncle Bob's a few months ago, Mother said they had to cut back.
Cutting back means no shows and a movie only once a month. Cutting back means not going out for dinner. Today, however, they are going to see a show and go out to dinner afterwards. Today is a special day.
In the back seat of Pop's car, David drums his fingers and hums along to his iPod while he waits for Mother and Pop to finish getting ready. He wishes Mother and Pop would get their rears in gear. That's what Alan his job coach says they have to do when there is a big job at work.
David had his rear in gear until Mother told him to sit in the car. David has been waiting in the car for quite a while.
The only thing that would make today more perfect is if Sarah were going, too. Sarah is the girl of David's dreams. She has long red hair and a beautiful smile. David has not seen Sarah in quite a while and he wonders where she is. She has not come to church. She has not gone to listen to choir practice. She has not been at Jean and Bob's restaurant, where David looks for her every morning before he goes to work.
Across the street, Mr. Wallace comes out of his house and begins to prune his bushes. When he sees David sitting in the car, he comes over. "Good morning, David. What are you doing in the car?"
"I'm waiting for Mother and Pop," says David. Just then, the front door opens, and both Mother and Pop step outside. Mother locks the door. Pop is carrying a large shopping bag that says "Macy's."
David wonders what is inside the bag. Pop opens the door next to David and puts the bag on the empty seat beside him. "Take care of that, big guy," he says. "How are you today, Bill?"
David looks inside the bag. There are two presents inside the bag. They are both the same size. One is wrapped in pink paper and one is wrapped in purple paper. One has bright pink ribbons and the other has bright purple ribbons.
Mother and Pop say good-bye to Mr. Wallace. Pop holds Mother's door and shuts it carefully. Mother puts on her seat belt, then turns around to look at David. Her lipstick is the same pink as her jacket. "I have a surprise for you."
"Oh?" asks David, very curious. He takes his earphones out of his ears. "Is it in those presents?"
"No, not in the presents," says Mother. "They're not for you. And I can't tell you anymore, because then it wouldn't be a surprise. But you'll get the surprise at the show." She turns to face the front and winks at Pop.
Pop glances up at David's reflection in the rear-view mirror. "I think you'll enjoy your surprise, David."
"Is it Sarah? Is Sarah coming to the show today?" The thought of sitting beside Sarah at a Broadway show makes David's heart feel as if it's gotten so big inside his chest, he can hardly breathe.
Mother and Pop look at each other. David looks at Mother. David looks at Pop.
"No, David," says Mother. "Sarah is not coming to the show today."
"We haven't seen Sarah in a while," says Pop.
"I miss her," says David. He sighs like an old balloon. "Where is she? Why doesn't she come to Jean and Bob's for breakfast? Why doesn't she come to church?"
"I'll try calling Mrs. Lindsay when we get home," says Mother. "Would you like that, David?"
"Oh, yes!" says David. He puts his earphones back in his ears. He turns on his iPod. The song is from another Broadway show and it's about having a dream. David has dreams, too. Most of them are about Sarah.
David watches the people inside the cars, sitting two by two. David wishes Sarah was sitting next to him. David imagines sitting next to Sarah, holding her hand. David thinks Sarah has the most beautiful hands he has ever seen. Sarah talks with her hands by moving her fingers. Her hands and her fingers move in graceful circles and strokes. Some nights, before he falls asleep, he imagines Sarah and her beautiful hands touching him.
David is learning how to talk with his hands, too. Mother found a teacher who comes to David's house every Thursday afternoon. His name is Mr. Reed. Mr. Reed is teaching David how to talk with his hands so that David can talk to Sarah.
David imagines sitting next to Sarah talking with their hands while Mother and Pop talk in the front seat. David imagines her beautiful smile. David imagines kissing each one of Sarah's long fingers with pink nail polish on the tips.
Before he knows it, Mother is shaking his shoulder again. "David, wake up! We're here."
"Okay, okay!" says David so Mother will stop shaking him. He opens his eyes, sits up straighter, and looks around. They are parked inside a garage with dingy gray walls and dirty concrete floors. It smells like the garage where Pop takes the car when it needs to be fixed. Pop is talking to a man with a big black mustache. Pop takes the shopping bag with the presents out of the back seat. Then he gives the key to the man with the mustache. The man gives Pop a ticket.
"Come on," says Pop. He picks up the bag, and tucks the ticket into his jacket. "Let's go."
In just a few steps, they are in the middle of a narrow street. The street is crowded with lots of cars and people. Mother holds David's arm tightly. Pop leads the way. They turn a corner and are swallowed up by an even bigger crowd. There are so many people they crowd the sidewalks. They spill over the curbs and into the very wide street.
David looks at the enormous city all around him. The buildings are very high and there are signs on almost all of them. Some flash. Some have pictures or words rolling across them. One is even like a big TV, high up on one side. David doesn't know which way to look first.
"Come on," Pop says. He points across the street. "There's our theatre."
As they start to cross the street, David sees that people are walking back and forth across the street without stopping to look and see if anything is coming. As Pop starts to step off the curb, David pulls him back. "Pop!" says David. "Don't forget to look!"
Pop smiles. "Good job, David. But, look. We don't have to worry about cars. The street is blocked off so no cars can come through here. Only people are allowed in the street today."
David looks back and forth. He sees that Pop is right. There are no cars or cabs or busses. There are only lots and lots of people.
The people are in all shapes and sizes and colors. Some people are wearing dark business suits and look as if they are heading somewhere very important. Some people are wearing khaki shorts and t-shirts as if they are on vacation. Some people are wearing loose pajama bottoms and rumpled sweatshirts and look as if they just got out of bed.
Everyone is moving fast. Some people are talking loudly into cellphones and some people are talking to each other. There are even a few people who seem to be talking to themselves.
As they cross the street, David sees a very tall man playing the guitar in the middle of the street. He has long blond hair. He is wearing cowboy boots and a cowboy hat, and nothing in between.
Mother stops short and gasps. "Oh, my, William!"
Pop laughs. "It's the Naked Cowboy."
"What?" asks David. He can hardly believe his eyes. The naked man is walking up and down the street. He is playing his guitar and singing. Many girls are following him, snapping pictures. David wonders what it would be like to walk around naked and play a guitar all day. David doesn't think Mother would think it was a good idea.
David wonders what Sarah would think. A lot of girls seem to like the naked cowboy.
Mother laughs. Pop laughs. The cowboy turns around. David sees he isn't totally naked. He is wearing a pair of white underpants with the words Naked Cowboy written across the back. David wore underpants like that when he was a little boy. The idea of a grown man walking around playing a guitar wearing little boy's underpants makes David laugh.
David laughs and laughs. Mother pulls him across the street, and the three of them go into the theatre still laughing. "It is the funniest thing, isn't it," whispers Mother as they find their seats. "But, look, David. Look who's here waiting for us. What do you think of your surprise?"
David stops laughing. Sitting in the middle of row is the last person David expects to see.