Recap: Ezra’s aunt advises him how to deal with the bully Kalman. Ezra still needs to come up with an idea for the writing club project. He starts reading the journal again.
When I walked in the door, Ruchy rushed over to me. “Sender, welcome back. I have good news.”
She motioned me to come close and then she whispered in my ear. “Mr. Corman came by yesterday and said he won’t need your help until the summer.”
Baruch Hashem! I wanted to jump in the air I was so happy. That meant I could go back to Dayton and work some more for the Wrights and for Ruchy’s bicycle.
Bubby welcomed me home and then sent me on an errand to the store.
Later at night, I pulled out my writing notebook and began working on the story I’d started in Kitty Hawk.
A boy named Zevi finished constructing a flying machine in the shed in his backyard. Everyone thought he was crazy. A 14-year-old boy couldn’t do that. His parents didn’t know he was doing it. They just thought he liked to work with tools and construct things in the shed. He checked every part of it, and he decided it was ready for a test flight.
Suddenly Bubby was standing in the doorway. I stuffed my writing notebook under my pillow.
“Sender, I’ve been calling you. There’s a mouse caught behind the couch downstairs, squeaking terriblly. I need you to free it and shoo it outside.”
“Sorry Bubby. I didn’t hear you.”
“What were you doing?”
I didn’t answer. I ran downstairs to free the mouse.
I watched it skitter out the door and I thought about how everyone, even a mouse, craves freedom.
There was that free feeling when you were up in the air flying. I wanted to describe it in my story.
Bubby wasn’t happy when I told her that Mr. Corman didn’t need me, but she let me go back to Dayton.
I telegraphed Orville and he telegraphed back to come straight to the bike shop. They were planning some runs this week and I could help with the photos. Bring those things you have.
I knew what he meant. He didn’t want to spell it out in a telegram. He wanted me to bring back the plans and photos. They weren’t so safe here, after all.
I shoved the plans, the camera, and the photos into the depths of my suitcase.
“Sorry we can’t see you off,” Bubby said, “but I’ve got too much Pesach cleaning to do. Ruchy limped over and hugged me.
I whistled as I headed to the train station.
The sun was shining, and my shadow was long on the pavement. For a few minutes, I noticed another shadow near mine. I looked up but there wasn’t anyone there.
Had I imagined it?
The train pulled up with steam belching, and I boarded, looking around me. I chose a seat near the window next to a woman holding a baby. I recalled that man leaning over me when I was on the train last time. Now I was seated far from the aisle so no one could come near me or my precious papers in my suitcase.
The whole way to Dayton, I wrote in my writer’s notebook.
Zevi was seated in his plane. The wind was perfect. He stared up at the clouds and then, with a prayer on his lips, he started the motor. His plane glided down the long, sandy strip, and then gradually it tilted upwards, lifting off the ground. He felt that thrilling jolt as the plane ascended higher and higher…
“Ticket?” I looked up into the eyes of the train conductor.
“Sorry,” I said. I reached into my pocket and pulled out my ticket.
The conductor took it, punched it, and returned it to me.
“You should answer the first time.” The conductor shook his head as he strode away.
I felt my cheeks flame. I hoped I hadn’t done a chilul Hashem. I closed my writer’s notebook. Maybe Bubby was right: I was causing problems with my daydreaming and my writing.
The train screeched to a halt and the conductor announced Dayton. I felt my heart pounding. I couldn’t wait to see the Wright brothers and to be in their bicycle shop again.
When I reached the shop, Orville greeted me. “Sender, welcome back. We’re going to head to the prairie later.”
Wilbur strode into the room.
“You’re back from Paris! How did it go?”
“It went well. The French are interested. I’m going to go back to demonstrate the flyer, but we need some real heavy-duty practice now. You brought the plans and photos back with you?”
He strode over to the front door and peered out through the glass. Then he motioned Orville to come see something.
I trailed behind. “Look, its him!” he whispered. I glimpsed a short man with a handle-bar mustache who was lumbering down the block. He wore a scowl on his face. I saw he stopped in front of the general store. A little girl was running by. It looked like she was chasing after a kitten. The man extended his leg and she tripped. She rose slowly, crying, and continued running after the kitten.
Wilbur quickly turned the sign on the door so that it said “closed.” “Hit the lights, Orv.”
Orville turned out the lights.
“I don’t want that man in our shop!”
A chill ran through me. “Who?”
“Oliver Crook Haigh,” Orville whispered.
“The guy is bad news.”
Wilbur pointed to scars on his face. “Got it from that guy hitting me with a hockey stick when I was in high school.”
“That was the name printed on the card that man gave me,” I said.
“The plans and all are in the safe?” Wilbur asked Orville.
Then both brothers motioned for me to follow them out the back door.
“We need to get to Huffman Prairie now and we don’t need any encounters with that man. He’s real bad news.” Wilbur led the way to the trolley.
To be continued…
By Susie Garber