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Chair w border DSC_0928

Chair w border DSC_0928

The Waiting Room
There had been a thaw and so Little Mac had gone out and attacked the invasion of seaweed with a vengeance. The storm surge had left them with tons of the slimy stuff, directly after which the temperature had plummeted, freezing it all hard as a rock. Now that the seaweed was pliable again, Mac wanted to get it all back in the ocean at once, another cold front being due the next day. Already he had cleared his boat ramp and his part of the lane. Breathing hard, he eyed the playground next door and the wave-shaped ranks between him and the swings and then looked at his watch. It was no good. He saluted the enemy and shouldered his rake. Retreat was his only option. Big Bertha had a doctor's appointment and he had to take her.
"You don't have to take me," Bertha said as she got in their truck and slammed the creaky passenger door so it would shut properly. "I can take myself."
"I know that," Mac said.
"Well, why don't you stay here then?" she said. "I know you'd rather stay here."
On the third try, Mac got the engine to fire. "Now Bertie," he said, "we both know what would happen. You would get there and they would make you wait. And you would leave. And then we'd have it all to do over again."
"An appointment is an appointment," said Big Bertha. "If I was late, I'd miss my turn. Did you get the chair?"
"I did."
"I could have done that too."
"I know."
At the medical centre, Little Mac lugged Big Bertha's chair up the stairs. It was nothing but an old kitchen chair, but it was sturdy enough and more importantly it had no arms. The chairs in the waiting room at the medical centre were sturdy too but had arms that were too close together for Bertha to fit between them. She had requested that a suitable chair be provided. Mac had decided not to wait till hell froze over and had begun bringing a chair.
Thirty minutes later, Bertha's doctor came and plucked her from the crowd. Mac took her place in the chair just an instant before a child from across the room made it there. The little girl had run for the chair and Mac had seen her and moved quickly.
The girl glared and stamped her foot. "Hey!" she said. "You can't sit there. That's where I was gonna sit."
"Why don't you sit here?" said Little Mac, indicating the seat he had vacated. "Sit right here and you and me can have a chat. What's your name?"
"You get up," said the girl, "or I'll go get my dad."
Little Mac laughed. "Oh dear," he said. "We can't have that. That would mean trouble. So I'll ask you a question instead, and if you can answer it, then you can have the chair. But first tell me your name."
"All right, Alice. Here's my question. We're in a waiting room, right? So, who made the first one? Who made the very first waiting room of all?"
"I don't know," said Alice. "I don't know and that isn't a fair question. I'm not as old as you are. I wasn't maybe alive back then."
"Well," said Little Mac. "Maybe your dad knows. Why don't you go ask him? He's not as old as me, but still he might have some idea."
Alice went back across the room and sat down in the lap of a man in a green and brown hunting jacket and a grease-stained ball cap. The man stopped talking to the man next to him and listened to what his daughter had to say. Then he put his arm around her and pulled her close. Looking up at Mac, he nodded his head briefly and dismissively and went back to his conversation with his neighbour.
On their way home, Big Bertha said to Little Mac, "Why didn't you just let her sit there?"
"Pure mischief," said Little Mac. "I remembered her father. Right there smack dab in the middle of everything I can't remember, I remembered him. After I lost my teaching job and they let me be janitor, that fellow used to come and fix the school's heating system. And he found out about my fall from grace. He thought it was funny. His favourite joke was to come up and whisper in my ear, 'Helloooooo, anybody in there anymore?' I guess this was my way of answering his question."
"And what's the answer to your question?" said Big Bertha. "Who did make the first waiting room?"
"Who made all things," said Little Mac, "in the beginning, long time ago? Who made the world, the first and biggest waiting room of all?"
Big Bertha started laughing then and didn't stop till they were back down by the sea. "Oh Lord," she said to Little Mac as they sat there in the truck, that had been parked for several minutes. "You are for sure a bloody caution. Now I know why you're here with me. So that I don't leave too soon!"
"You go on in," said Little Mac. "I'll bring the chair."
26 January 2018
Texas Jim
Prospect and Hatchet Lake, Nova Scotia
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Keywords:chair, old, outdoors, painted, shingles, wall, yellow