BY SAL WYLIE
Copyright is held by the author.
SETH CHOSE his seat on the bus carefully. He didn’t want to sit in the front like his Mother said, so he sat in the second row next to the window. He put his lunch bag on the seat next to him. Once the very young and elderly got on and were settled, the rest of the seats filled quickly. Seth glanced up when he heard a young man say, “Is this seat taken?”
Seth shook his head, and pulled his bag onto his lap. The young man eased into the chair while intently folding his billowed cloak about him. Seth turned to look out the window to find his mother, but he couldn’t see her. Maybe she was on the other side. As the bus pulled out of the Hamilton Station, the driver pushed the stick shift through its gears, the engine wined, they picked up speed, and the young man asked, “Are you going to Toronto?”
Seth nodded. His mother had told him not to speak to strangers.
“I am going there as well. My name is Henry. What’s yours?”
“Seth,” he said quickly, staring at the seat in front of him.
“Good to meet you, Seth. You know, I like to talk on a long trip, don’t you? Did you know that you can learn a great deal by talking with people, but I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that. You seem like a very clever boy.
Seth smiled, but looked steadily out the window. The scenery seemed to fly by. The new QEW offered drivers the chance to travel quickly without stops. After a period of time, Seth heard the young man say his name again.
“Seth, would you believe me if I told you that I have just come from New York where I disembarked from an ocean liner. I crossed the Atlantic Ocean.”
Seth’s eyes widened and he turned towards the young man. “Really?”
“Yes, really. It was a wonderful trip. I had the opportunity to meet so many interesting people on the ship, and I’ll tell you a secret: one of the men brought something interesting with him! He said he had a golem stored in a wooden box in the hold. Seth, do you know what a golem is?”
“No. I never heard of that.”
“Well, let me tell you. A golem is a magical creature! It is very rare indeed. The man on the ship bought the golem from a gypsy in Bulgaria. Imagine that! He said that it was a boy-golem. I always thought that golems were grown-ups, but, no, this one is a child: a boy. Now, the man said this golem will do whatever his owner asks of him. For example, if asked, he would rake the lawn, do the dishes, take out the garbage — whatever you wish, AND he has the strength of a hundred men. Would you like to have a golem, Seth?”
“No. I don’t want one.”
The young man continued, “You know Seth, I’ll tell you something else; something exciting that happened on the ship. The golem got out of his box! Everyone tried to catch him, but he hid down in the hold. AND, do you know what? I found him. And guess what? When I caught him, I had the stewards put him back in the box. He’s mine now. I have sent the golem in his box to Toronto by train, and I am going to meet him there. Would you like to see him?”
“I don’t know. Maybe, but I have to meet my Auntie Barbara at the station. She’ll be waiting for me.”
“Auntie Barbara! How wonderful. She’ll be meeting you at the Elizabeth Street Station, won’t she?”
“How did you know that?”
“Oh, it was just a good guess. Tell me about your Auntie Barbara. Would you?”
“Well, she’s my aunt. She’s my mother’s sister, and she walks very slowly.”
“How unfortunate! Does she have an affliction?”
“Sorry. I’ll explain. An affliction means that a person has a health problem that makes it hard for him or her to do things that other people can do. Is your Auntie Barbara like that?”
“I don’t know. She just walks real slowly.” Seth sighed and rustled his lunch bag on his lap. He glanced over at the young man. Henry was smoothing his long cloak with his hands. The material seemed to shimmer. Seth hadn’t noticed before Henry’s white, slender fingers with long finger nails. He quickly looked away.
“Seth,” said Henry suddenly shifting in his seat, “I have a wonderful idea, and I want you to like it! It’s important to me when I meet such a fine boy like yourself to think of something that would make your life better; make you happy. Would you like to hear it? You don’t have to say anything, just listen.”
“I suppose that would be okay.”
“I have a limousine parked at the bus station; it is waiting for me complete with a driver! It is my own personal car. I am thinking so hard of your Auntie Barbara and wondering, Seth, if she would like to drive rather than walk to wherever it is the two of you are going. You can come, too! We’ll all go together!”
“Well, maybe she would like that.”
“Where did you say you are going?”
“To the museum. The Royal Ontario Museum.” Seth replied.
“Oh, how splendid! The museum! I might have known. You are such a clever boy. I love museums. Have you been there before?”
“No? Well, I’ve never been to that museum before either. I’ll wager your Auntie Barbara would LOVE a ride to the museum in a fine car. Should we ask her? My treat.”
“I suppose we could ask her. She might like that.”
“Well, that’s just wonderful. It’s all set then. Now don’t forget to tell her my name is Henry. Will you remember that when we get to the station?”
Seth nodded. He looked out the window at the fancy Toronto shop windows, the sleek cars, and people walking along on the sidewalk. The more he thought about getting a ride for his aunt, the more excited he became. Imagine what she will say! Seth, you were able to get us a ride in a fine car with a driver! She would be so proud of me.
Henry held the passengers back to allow Seth to scoot across the seats and climb out in front of him. They reached the platform together. Immediately, Seth spotted his Auntie Barbara and called out to her. After hugs and greetings, Seth introduced his aunt to Henry.
“You met our Seth on the bus then, did you?” She quizzed Henry. “What is your surname, please? Where do you live?” She had many rapid fire questions for Henry. If truth were told right on the spot, she would have said, “Sir, you are a villain. Of that I am sure.”
Henry seemed amused by this intense questioning and rounded off his answers with, “Madam, my car awaits you.” He gestured widely to the car and at that precise moment, the driver opened wide the large shiny black door to reveal a red, plush interior of the most lavish taste!
“Oooooh” Seth’s auntie purred, “This is an exceptional car. Yes, I would like a ride in this car all the way to the museum. Come, Seth.” She smiled broadly, smoothing the lace on her ample bosom, shuffled over to the edge of the sidewalk and disappeared into the plush velvet. The car door slammed shut. Henry swirled his cloak around Seth, and they disappeared.