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Father's Day
by Julie Michaelson
06/20/09
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(July: 1960.
Downtown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Two-door car sedan:
unairconditioned.
"Are You Lonesome
Tonight?" is playing
on the AM radio.
Smells of cigarette smoke,
gasoline from city
buses, and cabs,
and of overburnt
hotdogs and popcorn,
waft into the slanted,
open car door windows.)

_________________
"D....A....D....D....Y!"

"What is it,
Stuart?"

"JULIE'S
WHINING,
AGAIN!"

"Alright, now.
Simmer down."

(Silence.)
(Whining sniffles,
in the back seat of the
car.)
(Scruffling sounds.)
(Whimpers of a hysterical
four-year-old.)
(Loud protests of a whiny
six-year-old, and an even
whinier nine-year-old,
respectively.)

"D....A.....D.....D.....Y!"

"Alright;
simmer down,
ya'll.
Now,
simmer down."

"But......
D....A.....D.....D.....Y!"

(Patient sigh.)
(Squint against the
mid-afternoon, summer
sun coming through
the dusty car window.)
(Quick look into side-
view mirror, at the
downtown city traffic.)
"What is it,
Jul'sie."

"KITTY'S GONE!
DADDY!
KITTY! KITTY!"
(Sob.)
(Scream.)
"KITTY!"

"Huh?"
(Patient squint,
into rearview mirror.)

(Loud, motherly sigh,
coming from passagener
seat: up front.)
"OY!
JOACHKA'LAH!
I TOLD you,
not to take her!
Didn't I TELL YOU?"

"D....A....D.....D.....Y!
K.....I....T.....T.....Y!"
(Whimpers increase.)
(As if in response,
loud horns sound,
from outside the
blue cheverolet,
in the Fourth of July
weekend,
Philadelphia traffic.)

(Another squint at the
side-view mirror.)
(Side glance, at passenger
seat.)
"Kitty?
Huh?"

"OY!
JOACHKA'LAH!
Don't tell me:
you LEFT HER THERE!"

(Whimpering reaches
loud crescendo.)

"Aw, JULIE!
STOP IT!"

"CELIA!
BE QUIET!"
(Another side glance
at the passenger seat.)
"WHAT's she SAYIN'?"

"OY!
I TELL her, not
to bring those stuffed
ANIMALS, everywhere
she GOES!"

(Deep, patient sigh.)
"What HAPPENED?"

"KITTY!
D....A.....D.....D.....Y!
SHE'S GONE!
SHE'S GONE!"

"JOACHKA'LAH!
Did you.....LEAVE her
THERE?"

(CRIES REACH LOUDER
CRESCENDO.)
(WHIMPERING NOW
DROWNS OUT HONKING
OF HORNS, IN THE
DOWNTOWN PHILADELPHIA
TRAFFIC.)
"What.....what:
she LEFT her?
Down....
Ya mean:
down, at the LIBERTY bell?
Ya mean....
just NOW?"

(Screams hit the hilt.)
"D....A....D.....D.....Y!
D....A.....D.....D.....Y"
(Heavy sobbing,
from the back seat.)

(Very deep, patient sigh.)
(Stop car, at a red light,
amidst the heavy Philly,
downtown traffic.)
(Arms rest on big,
hot plastic,
non-automatic wheel.)
(Deep sigh.)
"What should we do."

"JOAHKA'LAH!
I TOLD you...
NOT TO TAKE
HER! I TOLD you!"

(Sob.)
(Scream.)
"D....A.....D.....D....Y!"

(Heavy sigh.)
"We're just gonna have
ta' turn around."
(Slowly turn car around,
sweat dripping down
back of neck,
squinting back
at the downtown
Philly traffic, along
Independence Street.)

"MIKE!"

"Elaine..."
(Sigh.)
"We HAVE to..."
(Sigh.)
(Another squint,
in the sunlight of the
hot windshield, at
the back-view mirror.)
(More honks of loud
car horns, from the
Fourth of July traffic.)
"We're just gonna
have'ta turn around."

(Whimpers.)
(Sniffles.)
(Another outbreak,
of loud sobs.)

"JUL'SIE!
DADDY'S GONNA
GO BACK, OKAY?
DADDY'S GONNA
GO BACK!"

(Whimper.)
(Sniff.)

(Car makes its way
up Independence Street,
and then slowly turns around.)
(More cars honk.)
(Inside the car, music
gently blasts: 'Volare'
by Bobby Rydell.)

"M...I....K.....E!
You're gonna get in an
A...C...C....I...D....E...N....T!"

(Mumble.)
(Turning, and turning
of non-automatic, hot
plastic wheel.)
"Neah.....I won't."

"MIKE!
WHAT ARE YOU DOIN'?
DID YOU SEE THAT CAR?"

(Mumble.)
(Still turning wheel.)
(Squint in the hot sun.)
"Uh, huh."

(Sniffling.)
(Whimpering.)
(Sobs.)

"Alright, JOAHKA'LAH!
DADDY'S GONNA GO BACK!"

(Soft whimpering.)

(Loud protests, from
older, sweaty children
in back seat.)
"JULIE!
Stop IT!"

(Patient fatherly sigh.)
"Alright, ya'll.
Simmer down."

(Whimper.)
(Sob.)

(Car screeches to a
halt, in the middle
of Independence Square.
More cars honk loudly.)
(Loud, Philadelphia accents
can be heard, yelling at
the car:
'HEY, BUDDY!
WHAT'CHA DOIN'?')

(Fatherly sigh.)
"Alright; ya'll just
stay here."
(Wipe back of neck,
with sweaty handkerchief.)
"Ya'll just stay here:
I'll be back, in a minute."

"MIKE!
BE CAREFUL!"

"Okay.
Okay.
(Wipe back of dripping
neck, again.)
Just sit still."
(Sigh.)
"I'll be right back."

(Long minutes pass.)
(Whimpering and
sniffling can only be
heard.)
(Grumbles sound,
from older voices,
amidst whimpering
and sniffling.)
(More long minutes
pass.)
(More minutes pass.)

"JOACHKA'LAH!
LOOK!
DADDY'S BACK!
LOOK!
THERE'S DADDY!"

(Little neck cranes
upward.)
(Sobbing begins,
afresh.)
"I can't SEE NOTHIN'."

"LOOK!
LOOK!
LOOK WHAT DADDY HAS!"
LOOK!"

(All heads, in
the hot car,
crane upward.)
(More horns blast,
as a worn-out-looking man,
wearing plaid cotton
shirt, long slacks,
black sox and heavy
black leather shoes,
carrying some sort of
fuzzy ball in one hand,
and the other holding
out to stop angry
Philadelphia drivers,
quietly trots across
Independence Plaza.)

(Car opens and slams.)
(Loud sigh.)
(Hands fuzzy ball,
over to passenger,
up front.)
(Deep, loud sigh.)

"Where WAS IT,
MIKE?"

(Another wipe of
white, cotton handkerchief.)
"Right where,
she left it:
right on the bannister...
right next to the Liberty Bell."

"DADDY!
DADDY!"

(Sigh.)
(Glance at
passenger,
up front.)
"Some lady found it,
goin' up the steps.
Her husband gave it
to one'a the guards."

"OY!
J...U....L...I....E!
Here she IS!
KITTY!"

"OH, DADDY!
OH, DADDY!
T'ank Y...O....U!"

(Sigh.)
"Well......
I'm glad we found it."
(Sigh.)
(Begin turning non-automatic
wheel, turning the rubber
wheels against the cobble-
stone pavement of Independence
Plaza.)
(More cars honk.)

"T'anks, Daddy."
(Sniff.)
********************
We love..
because
He first
loved us.
[1 John 4:19]

____________________
In memory:
Daddy.



















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