Toy Home. Page 6 of 12
After a couple of minutes, the clown said, “Well, gee, maybe she got blown to a different part of the street. Or maybe they put the fire out, before...” His voice trailed off.
The three toys were silent now, each thinking its own thoughts. Sometimes, the little bear dozed off, only to be startled into wakefulness by some clatter or other, firefighters and police going importantly about their business, others somehow connected with the tragic fire walking slowly by, surveying the wreckage, shaking their heads. Night had given way to a chilly, grey day, a day of swift-moving clouds and wisps of snow. The toys watched and waited, and eventually dozed off.
Later in the day -- or was it the next day? -- the little bear was startled by a clatter and banging to his left. Men and women wearing hard helmets were driving big pieces of moving equipment -- forklifts, bulldozers, loaders -- and suddenly the air was filled with the sounds of engines, exhausts chugging, people shouting orders to one another. They brought the machinery right up to where the Toy Home had once stood. Then, with a tremendous crunching and crashing, they pushed over the husk of the building. Many times during this work, the little bear was afraid that the big wheels would back right over the Punchinello clown. But they always missed him -- even the big wheels of the trucks that came to haul the debris away.
Then one of the trucks stopped, and a man jumped down. He took off his gloves and threw them into the cab of the truck. “Hey, Neal!” he yelled, as he bent over and picked up the clown.
A big black man lumbered from the far side of the truck. “Watcha got?”
“Aintcher little girl interested in dolls like this?”
“Lemme see it.” Neal held the clown in one huge dark hand. “That’s some kinda Punch doll, I think,” he rumbled, his voice a low warm growl like a friendly mountain. “Yeah, she’d like that, all right. If I clean it up a little bit, I can give it to her for Christmas. Think I can get that stain out, too. Thanks, Ray.” Neal carefully placed the Punchinello clown in the cab of the truck. The two men got in the truck, and the truck rumbled off.
When everyone had gone and the toys could speak again, the rocking horse said, “It looks as though the Punchinello clown got his wish, after all. It sounds as if he’ll wake up in a warm house on Christmas.”
“I hope he’ll be happy,” the little bear said. To tell the truth, he was going to miss the Punchinello clown. Even though the clown was always talking about being tough and about enjoying life on the street, the little bear knew that, deep down, the clown had a giving heart and only wanted the best for everyone. But the little bear was also happy that the clown was going to a bright, warm place. “Maybe you’ll be next,” he said to the rocking horse. “But if someone comes along and picks you up, I hope they’ll pick me up, too. I hope we’ll stay together forever.”
“Forever is a very long time,” the rocking horse said. “Toys wear out, get passed from child to child. Even so, we can hope to be together for a little while. I’ve been with many many toys and with many children during my awake times, and I can tell you that every new toy you meet and every new child who plays with you is like an unopened present, full of new joys and experiences.”
“But didn’t you have some children who were bad to you?”
“Well, what do you mean by ‘bad’?”
“You know, who tried to break you, or played rough?”
“Oh, I suppose so. Yes. But toys can only wait and hope for better days. And that’s just what I did. And the better days came.”
“...Are you very old, rocking horse?”
“Well, yes, I think that I must be. But the odd thing about toys is that, if we’re made well and well cared-for, how old we are doesn’t really matter. And there are two other things that really help.”
“The first thing is that, when times are happy, appreciate them. And the second is that, when times aren’t happy, look forward to better times to come.”