The cold stings his eyes and stabs his throat. The wheels of his dolly screech. Out of breath, he stops. He waves his arms. The dolly drops to the road. The Mooreston 815 pulls away.
Another in fifty-eight minutes and thirty-six seconds. And then another thirty-two minutes and seventeen seconds to reach Sammy. They made him late. Sammy will be fast asleep. Don’t want to wake him. But she will. It’ll be worth it. She’s reading him his story by now. He always loved that story. Always wanted to know how Uncle Wiggly’s toothache would get better, even after a thousand and three times. Daddy read it again. Daddy will read it again, Sammy. Fifty-eight minutes, seven seconds. Daddy will read it again. And Daddy will have a new story to tell.
Tonight’s the night. It has to be.
A black Plymouth careens around the corner. It screeches. It roars. The single headlight winks at Frank. It mocks him. Frank leaps out of its path. His arm cracks from the wedlock of curb and bone. He lands face-first in the cocktail of asphalt, salt and packed snow. He swallows ice. Wood and metal rocket into the air. He pulls his face from the curb and rolls. His oil barrel plummets to the ground next to him, the rust hole caved in and mangled. The car speeds off, screeching and squealing along the street littered with the shattered pieces of his livelihood, of Pagliacci’s board of magnificence, of the crushed empty can of plunder for wonder, of splintered brushes, of Sal’s leprous dials and malfunctioning electrical innards, of black ink and snow entwined.
How does Uncle Wiggly’s toothache get better?
Frank can’t remember.