Character's Folly

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Chapter Fourteen

Penelopy, Suzie, their Uncle Ray, Daniel and Brittany took a taxi ride into the heart of the City. They had the cabbie drop them off at Times Square at 42nd and Broadway. As they all unloaded out of the taxi, it was Daniel who stood amazed. He hadn’t really had a chance to appreciate the magnitude of the Big Apple before. They were in the heart of the City, and were ready to take a nice, long walk. It was a beautiful day for it. Penelopy had rented a stroller for their outing and they had it in the trunk of the cab.

The cabbie unloaded the stroller for his fares, and then waited patiently for his fee and gratuitous. Ray picked up the tab, and tipped the driver well. Daniel got Brittany settled into her own personal limousine and off they went.

“And that’s where the ball drops on New Year’s Eve,” Penelopy stated as she pointed up to a tall building that had advertisements on it. You won’t be able to see anything the even resembles the set up for that though, until it’s close to the end of the year.

They wandered West up the street and passed by the Rockefeller Center and the ice-skating ring. “You should see this place in the wintertime. It’s amazing.” Penelopy stated.

“It’s amazing now.” Daniel replied as he maneuvered Brittany in the stroller amidst the crowds of people that he was sharing the sidewalk with.

The group walked on, taking in the sights and the sounds of the City. Busses were stopping and then resuming their mission, while cars were rolled along, seemingly playing a game of survival for the fittest. Horns were honking and understandably so. There were several cars that were in gridlock, and everyone seemed to want to be going in the same spot at the same time.

Daniel noticed a vender on a street corner. The man had a cart that had an umbrella. He could smell the franks as they passed by. “Hot dogs, right on the street?” He said.

“Dirty water dogs,” Ray answered. “Pretty good stuff. You want one.”

“I’m not sure. Not liking the name.” Daniel chuckled. Seriously, Dirty water dogs?

“Come on. You got to try one.” Ray coaxed. “You ladies want one?”

“Sure!” Suzie was all in. She knew how very good they were.

“I guess so, but I was hoping for a bit classier of a lunch.” Penelopy stated. She wasn’t all that crazy about eating a hot dog, but she could appreciate the uniqueness of the opportunity for Daniel. She had wanted to take him to a nice deli, but let it go.

By then they were all gathered around the chubby little vendor. He had on a cheap straw hat and some really big round dark sunglasses. He looked more like a cartoon character than anything else. Daniel was duly amused at the dark mustache and the grey sideburns. This man was obviously a faithful user of Grecian formula for men.

The vendor patiently waited for the group’s order. Penelopy ordered for herself and for Suzie first. “I’d like a dog with kraut and mustard, and one with catsup only please.”

The dark-skinned man took the tongs in his chubby hand and fetched out a plump hotdog and placed it on the bun that he had secured with the other. He methodically put a perfect little stream of catsup on the hotdog and quickly put the savory offering into a paper tray and handed it to Suzie. He repeated his mechanically sound and rhythm-like motions with Penelopy’s hot dog.

Not to interfere with the timing Ray spoke right out. “I’d like mine with kraut, onions and mustard please.”

In keeping with the flow of things Daniel inserted his order right on cue, “I’d like the same, only do you have chili? I’d like to add that to mine if I can.”

Ray looked at Daniel. He liked his style.

The little man didn’t say anything. He simply did what he had been asked. He quickly produced the requested products, and then he unceremoniously asked for payment.

“That’ll be $14 even, chili’s extra, could always appreciate a tip.”

Ray paid the man with a $20 dollar bill. “Have a great day.”

The vendor nodded his head down as he slightly tipped his hat. He appreciated Ray’s generosity.

They continued on up the street while each of them was busy eating their hotdogs. Daniel finished eating his and then made the comment that he had been considering ever since he saw Ray tip the man a good percentage of what they had owed for the food. “That was quite a tip.”

“Good food. I’m a regular. Have to take care of our own. Anyway, Arnie appreciates it.”

“You know him? He didn’t put on like he was all that social.” Daniel was clearly surprised.

“Yeah, everyone knows Arnie. He’s been around for years. He don’t mess around with talking all that much. He’s a great guy though, and I can always count on fresh food and fast service.”

“I didn’t know him.” Penelopy stated. She had frequented the streets of New York quite often herself, and wondered why she didn’t know him if her uncle did.

“That’s because you like to have a bit nicer lunches, as I believe you even stated as recently as today, my dear.” Ray just smiled. He loved to spoil his girls.

Penelopy just smiled. He was right. She did like nicer lunches. She’d have to make up for it with their dinner…

“There’s where you go for Broadway shows,” Suzie wanted to be able to show her City savvy. They were about half way through Times Square.

“We really should go and see a show while you’re here.” Penelopy stated. It was a lifestyle that she was used to and embraced.

“We’ll see. I’ll think about it.” Daniel replied. He really had no interest in seeing a show, even if it was on Broadway. He just wasn’t all that refined.

“And that’s where the ball drops on New Year’s Eve,” Penelopy stated as she pointed up to a tall building that had advertisements on it. You won’t be able to see anything the even resembles the set up for that though, until it’s close to the end of the year.

New York City was about the last place on the planet that Daniel ever intended to be on New Year’s Eve! This crowd was large enough, and it was just a normal day in the City. He couldn’t even imagine when the place was packed to the gills with people!

Just listening and watching all of the activity around them kept the small group occupied. Suzie got such a kick out of being the official tour guide and so everyone let her do the sharing.

When they came up on 48th Street Suzie excitedly shared, “That there is the Hershey store! I love it there! They’ve got the best chocolate! Can we, Uncle?”

“No, better not today. Brittany is much too young to be eating chocolate yet, and you don’t want to eat it in front of her, now do you?” Ray was intent upon discouraging a chocolate binge. Penelopy just looked at him. She wouldn’t have minded just a little bit of chocolate her own self. She kept quiet.

“Why can’t she?” Suzie wasn’t ready to give up on such a delicious stop; not if she didn’t have to.

Daniel spoke up for Ray. “A baby isn’t supposed to have chocolate until after they are a year old. Her doctor told me that. No honey either. There’s a few things that they shouldn’t have, but those ones are big ones. I really don’t know why, but I think we’ll have to pass.”

Suzie didn’t comment. She felt a bit ugly for what she would have liked to say. She walked on in silence as they passed by one of her favorite shops.

Not too much farther up the road they came upon some other stores that excited Suzie and she soon forgot about the chocolate disappointment.

“Look, Penelopy, our diner!” Suzie exclaimed. They were now at 51st and Broadway. The sign said, ‘Ellen’s Stardust Diner.’ “It’s so much fun in there! The waiters and the waitresses all sing and dance around a bit. They even get up on the tables and sing!” Suzie shared.

Penelopy smiled a bit sheepishly. It was true. She had taken Suzie to that diner more than once. It really was a fun place to go. “Yeah, it is fun.” Penelopy openly shared. “It’s where I thought that we’d have lunch today, but now we’re not hungry.” The disappointment was clear.

“You poor thing.” Ray teased. “Maybe next time,” as he looked at Daniel and smiled; as if to say, ‘Look what you’re getting yourself into.’

They started heading East, towards 5th Avenue. When they hit 6th Avenue Penelopy shared “There’s Radio City.” It wasn’t something that Suzie would have known about or would have even cared to share.

Daniel just shrugged. He managed, “Oh, that’s nice.” He didn’t know what Radio City was, but obviously Penelopy liked it. Surely he had heard of it, but wasn’t at all sure of in what context.

They took a bit of a detour on the way to 5th Avenue. They wandered West up the street and passed by the Rockefeller Center. “That’s where you can get tickets to see Saturday Night Live”, Penelopy shared. “But we’re coming up on my favorite part of the Center now. In front of them was an amazingly large area. “This is the Rockefeller Ice Skating Ring. You should see this place in the wintertime. It’s amazing.” Penelopy stated.

“It’s amazing now.” Daniel replied as he maneuvered Brittany in the stroller amidst the crowds of people that he was sharing the sidewalk with. “But I was wondering.” Daniel stated.

“Yes?” Penelopy replied.

“Is there somewhere that I can change Brittany’s britches?” Daniel felt a little awkward.

“There’s a public restroom. You guys wait here and I’ll take care of her.” Penelopy offered.

“You sure?” Daniel asked, not used to anyone stepping in for him like that; that is except for his sitter, but that was her job.

“Positive. Come on Suzie. It’s a good idea to take a potty break.” With that Penelopy headed off with her little charge and her little sister.

“She’s quite a girl.” Daniel stated once the girls were out of earshot.

“She is. They both are.” Ray replied.

“I really care about her.” Daniel was open and honest.

“I know you do, son. But just don’t rush yourself. She’s not going anywhere. She’s crazy about you, you know.”

“I bought a ring.” Daniel quietly shared.

“A ring?” Ray couldn’t help but show his alarm.

“It’s not like that. It’s a promise ring. Just to let her know of my intentions, you know, in the future. Except I’m hoping that it won’t be too very far in the future. I get awful lonely, and Brittany, well, Brittany, she needs a mother.” There. He had said it, right out loud. His heart was racing and Daniel looked at Ray, wondering how he was going to respond to him.

“That’s quite a plan you’ve got there.” Ray stated somberly. “Have you thought it through?”

“I have sir. But I didn’t want to go one second farther, not without your blessings, sir.”

Ray looked Daniel right straight in the eyes. “I respect that, young man. And I respect you. I trust that you won’t hurt her. I can count on you for that?”

“Absolutely.” Daniel stated sincerely. “You have my word on it.”

Ray reached out his hand and Daniel took it. As they shook hands Ray stated, “And you have my blessings. Look, a bench. I don’t know about you, but I’m about worn out.”

The two men sat quietly as they waited for Penelopy and Suzie’s return; both immersed in their own thoughts of what the future would hold.

Once they left Rockefeller Center behind they had made it to 5th Ave. and they were coming up on some extremely nice stores. Right at the end of the Center located directly across the street was Saks and Company. Again Suzie excitedly shared a new finding. “Look! It’s Saks Fifth Avenue!” Suzie knew a good thing when she saw it.

Again the girl’s uncle just looked from the one to the other. That little one sure did know what she liked, and so did her big sister. He remained silent as he smiled. They had a good life.

“And look,” Suzie went on to share. “That store has some really nice things.” She was pointing to Tiffany’s. Yes: Some really nice things.

“You sure know your shopping.” Daniel teased Suzie. Suzie smiled. She knew that it was a true story.

Then they came upon Suzie’s favorite shop. “Look, Uncle! FAO Schwarts! Can we go in? I know that Brittany would love to see all of the toys!”

“Yeah, I’m sure that she would. And I know of another little girl that would love to see all of the toys also.” Ray stated playfully. He wouldn’t deny Suzie the joy of being a child.

As they walked through all of the toys Daniel was truly amazed. Children were everywhere and there were sounds all around of the children as they played. One little boy was banging on a drum, as another was making quite the racket with a sub-machine gun. Children were riding on tricycles and bouncing balls. He had never seen anything like it. And the variety of toys was astounding. Not only that, but some of the toys were huge. There was even a gigantic replica of the Eiffel Tower.

“Come, look!” Suzie grabbed a hold of Daniel’s hand and started pulling him to follow her. He didn’t resist. The rest of the group followed along. She stopped at the largest keyboard that Daniel had ever seen.

Suzie stepped onto the keyboard that was there on the floor and started stepping on different notes to play a song. Daniel was pleased to watch as she danced her way through the keys that she needed to step on to play ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’. It was too cute.

When Suzie finished her short repertoire her Uncle Ray had to be the bad guy. “It’s time to go, sweetheart. We still haven’t gotten to the park.” Had he tried to coax her with anything else she would have balked, but Suzie loved Central Park. She didn’t fuss.

As they made their way into the entrance of Central Park Daniel was really taken back. It felt like he was in a different world. They passed horse drawn carriages and then they came upon a pond. Suzie wanted to feed the ducks, but she had to continue on. They had a ways to go yet. When they reached the Carrousel they had no choice, but to stop and ride. The music was magical.

Penelopy held onto the bar as her horse that she was standing by bobbed up and down to the sound of the music. Her Uncle Ray was standing outside of the Carrousel with Brittany as Suzie rode the horse that Penelopy was standing beside. Daniel had positioned himself on the other side of Suzie’s horse. As Ray watched he considered what a happy family the three of them seemed to be. He looked down at Brittany and smiled as he told her, “Just a little while longer, little one. Not too long, and you’ll have yourself a sister, and a Mommy.” Ray’s heart was full. He liked Daniel, and he knew that he was a man of integrity, and that he would take good care of his girls.

“That was so much fun!” Suzie went running up to her uncle and gave him a huge hug.

“I’m glad that you enjoyed it.” Ray softly answered.

“Oh, I did! I love the carrousel!” Suzie couldn’t quit smiling. “Can we go again?”

“No, not this time. We need to get home. It’s already been a long day. The baby needs tended. I’m certain that it’s time for her to eat.” Daniel stepped in and answered Suzie.

Ray smiled. Daniel knew that it was a package deal. Penelopy couldn’t leave Suzie behind, and there wasn’t anyone going to try to make her.

By the time that the small group surfaced on the other side of Central Park they were exhausted. Ray hailed a cab to take them the short distance to their Penthouse on the Upper West Side. It had been a wonderful day.

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