Fixing her Little Red Wagon
And sure enough, the very next morning, as soon as I opened my eyes -- in fact, even before I opened my eyes -- what did I see standing over in one corner of her room but a little red wagon. It was the deluxe model with big bright red wheels and polished chrome sides plus a long steel handle with a sort of stirrup on top -- a Classic of its Kind! “Guess what?” she said. “It’s broken. But fix it, and we’ll go for a little ride.” I didn’t even stop to wonder how anything could be both brand new and broken, but without another word pulled out my bag of tools from underneath the eiderdown. It took me a couple of hours to fix her little red wagon that time, but by the time I was finished it was too late in the day to go for a ride; and besides, I was somewhat tired. So I said goodbye, jumped into my car -- a little green Volkswagon -- and sped across town to my own apartment. I dropped right off to sleep ad probably would be dozing off yet except that my sleep was interrupted by the telephone. “How are you?” I asked in my best totally exhausted voice. “I’m fine of course,” she said. “You seem to forget that it’s my little red wagon that’s broken.” “Oh,” I said, “in that case I’ll be right over;” and, to make some time in the dense crosstown traffic I leapt onto my little green racing bicycle. En route, I had just enough time to notice a beautiful green park right beside her home; and it was full of hills (I couldn’t help noticing), just the right kind for riding up and down on in little red wagons. I pulled up before her door with a screech of brakes, and knocked with enthusiasm, still anxious to fix her little red wagon! This time the job was considerably more complicated, and so I decided to stay the next night; but the next morning, I was still so exhausted from fixing things that it was all I could do to climb back on the bicycle seat and pedal back to my apartment. I was just about to fall into bed back home, when I heard the telephone. “Hello,” she said; “hello; is this the repair service?” “Yes it is,” I answered, somewhat mechanically. “Well hurry up then,” she said, “It's that time again -- and this time it’s worse than ever!” So this time in order to save time in the traffic I hopped onto my little green pogo stick, and went bouncing off in her direction. But about half-way to her house the traffic grew even thicker than before, so to save some more time this time, I got off my pogo stick and took off on foot. Once more I passed the park, and finally arrived at her door, panting for air and crawling on all fours. “Water, water!” I cried, falling over the threshold. She gave me a glass; then bent down again and handed me a hammer and screwdriver. “I’ll do it, I’ll do it,” I shrieked, “And afterwards we’ll be able to go for a delightful little ride.” But this time the repair work was so serious that it took up the entire night and part of the next morning. And around noon, just as I was about to begin the long trip across the room to the bed on my hands and knees, I heard her voice in back of me: “Where are you going so soon?” she said. “It’s broken already -- and this time it is in even worse shape than ever before!” As I lay there, collapsed flat on the rug, buried beneath my handyman’s tools, I heard her beginning to sob, gasp, and pound on the floor with her fists and head. “It’s broken, it’s broken,” she began to cry out as if she never intended to stop, “You still haven’t fixed it, why don’t you ever fix it, why is it always broken?
--Michael Benedikt (1935-2007) Unmuzzled OX 1973