Jesse looked back down the aisle between flea market tables. Joey was lagging behind. He went back to him. "Getting tired?" he asked.
"No. I mean, yes, I guess so."
"I'm sorry. I forget your legs are shorter than mine are. Come on climb up." He leaned down for Joey to get on his back. He straightened up thinking Joey weighed more than he used to, but he was still easy to carry on a strong back.
"I'm getting too big to ride on you."
"No you aren't. You have a ways to go before I can't lift you."
"I like it up here I can see everything!"
Jesse could remember being six. He remembered that what a little kid in a crowd sees is mainly shoes and pant legs and kneecaps. It is pretty dull at little kid eye level. So ~~ let Joey get a view of the world from his eyelevel for a while. He didn't mind carrying him, in fact feeling him warm and close like this was very good. This child who blessed all his days and gave back the love he received. He still had to stop sometimes and give thanks for him.
Joey asked, "Can we get something to eat pretty soon?"
"Why? Are you getting hungry?"
"Yeah! I'm starving."
Remembering the breakfast Joey had put away a couple of hours ago Jesse had to smile. "Starving? Well, I'm getting hungry too."
There was a little restaurant in the middle of the flea market acreage. It had booths inside and picnic tables outside. He set Joey down by one of the booths. "What do you want?" he asked. "Burgers smell good."
"A burger and a lemonade," Joey decided.
"Sit down I'll get it."
Joey slid into the booth. It was cool in here and the cooking food smelled very good. His stomach growled a little in anticipation. He watched Jesse waiting at the counter, taking a kind of pride in him. He could still believe that Jesse was the strongest man in the world or anyway in New Jersey!
Jess came back with the lemonade. "Drink it slow," he cautioned. "It's real cold."
Joey sat watching Jesse and sipping his lemonade. They made it right in this place, with real lemons. Sweet and tart at the same time. As the cold liquid cooled his throat he was wondering how it could ever get any better than this.
Jesse loved flea markets. He couldn't get enough of them. There was always that amazing thing that might be on the very next table! Or not. It really didn't matter. They might buy nothing or they might buy something. For Joey it wasn't the shopping or buying so much as having Jesse to himself and walking and talking with him. Jesse brought the food and sat down opposite him. "Careful. It's hot," he warned.
Joey dipped a French fry in ketchup. "We didn't get a present for Grandma yet."
"I'm looking for something, Keep your eyes open for blue glass things. You know how she likes that blue Depression glass."
"Why do they call it depression glass? Does it make sad people happy to look at it?"
"No. It's kind of a long story."
'Tell me," Joey asked, and bit into his burger.
"Well a long time ago, when I was a real little kid there was a time called the Great Depression."
"Was everybody sad?"
"Well kind of. It was a bad time. There were no jobs and people didn't have any money to buy food or anything. People lined up to get what jobs there were but there weren't enough to go around. Families sometimes didn't have enough to eat. We had a garden and Mom canned food for the winter and the chickens laid eggs so we had food but there were people who didn't. Mom had a job in the dress factory but when people don't have money for food they don't buy dresses so a lot of the time there was no work in the factory. There was no point in making a lot of dresses nobody was going to be able to buy."
"All right but what does that have to do with glassware?"
"I'm getting to that. See pretty glassware was cheap then and it was one thing people could afford. And the movies had dish night and every lady who went to the movies that night got a glass dish a plate or a cup and saucer. So a lot of people collected enough of it to set the table but everybody had some of it. Mostly it was pink or green but some of it was this dark blue Grandma likes. It's called cobalt glass. Maybe we can find her some."
"It's like the glass in the church windows, like the one in our church. It has green for the grass and blue for the sky and gray for the lamb and white for the Shepherd's clothes. And it has red. It has red for the Shepherd's belt. I wonder why churches have colored windows?"
"I don't know it's just something people have been doing for a long time. The colored windows cost a lot that's why our church only has one. Bret Frost's great grandmother and great grandfather donated the money for that one."
Joey was licking burger juice off his fingers. Jess gave him a paper napkin. "What's donated mean?"
"Donated means gave."
"So why not just say gave?"
"Because when people give to the church they call it donated."
"And you donated blood," Joey remembered. "When Mr. Cole was in the accident. You gave him some of your blood."
"Well he needed it and I didn't."
"I was proud you did that. You helped him live and get well."
"It's what people do. I have an unusual blood type and I'm healthy so when they need that kind they call me."
"What's unusual about t it? It's red, I saw it when you cut your hand."
"Well there are different kinds. Mine is called B negative"
"Do you know what mine is?"
"Yours is AB. That must be your father's type."
"How did you find that out?"
"When they took out your tonsils they gave you a blood test."
"Oh." Joey was quiet a minute and then he asked, "I wonder if I'll ever see my father?"
"I don't know."
"Jess could my father come and take me away from you?"
"Not without a fight!"
Joey finished his burger. "That's all right then, you can beat anybody in a fight. I'd like to meet my father. I wonder what he looks like. I wonder where he is right now?"
"I don't know. I do know one thing about him he must have very dark brown eyes. Your grandmother has blue eyes and your mother and I have gray eyes so you must of got the dark eyes from him."
Joey drank the last of his lemonade and made a noise with the straw trying to get the last drop. He wiped his hands and mouth on the napkin. "Sometimes I'm glad they aren't here. I like belonging to you."
Looking at him across the table right then Jesse smiled and said, "I like that too. That works for me just fine."
He wondered about the mysterious man who was there for a very short time and in that time made this child and gave him his dark eyes. What that man had lost and missed out on!
They put their paper cups and dishes in the trashcan and went out into the sunshine. Joey climbed up to his perch on Jesse's back. He put his arms around Jesse's neck and settled himself for a ride around the flea market in search of something made of blue glass for Grandma. Joey whispered in Jesse's ear, "I love you."
"I love you back, " Jesse said. He was smiling as he carried his boy back toward the tables.