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Evening Market - Susan Torgerson James

Evening Market - Susan Torgerson James

Watercolor on Paper

12" x 8.5"


Little Boy So Bright

J. Elliott


The holiday market was winding down, as was the temperature. I was eager to pack up and head home. Along came a mother with a bright little boy; bright as in radiant and joyous, delighting in the live music, the lights, the enticing vendor tables. Eyes all aglow, you could say—a baby owl jacked on espresso. “Hello,” I said. 

His eyes said hello back, as did his baby teeth smile, though he melted into his mother’s leg and cupped his little hand up to whisper to her. Mom leaned down, listened, and relayed to me, “The skull has a Santa hat. He likes that.” The little boy nodded. She had transmitted the message correctly.

My grinning ceramic skull loved his Santa hat, too. I write short ghost stories; I’d camped up the booth in accordance with the season. 

Mom picked up one of my books, flipping to the back jacket. “Want me to read to you?” she asked him. He nodded. 

Oh, mom, I love this, I thought. 

She stumbled over “cryptozoologist” which I repeated explaining the study of cryptids, so-called monsters like Nessie and Big Foot. “But of course, you know that here in Florida, we have the Skunk Ape,” I said in a first-grade teacher voice, “and you know that you can smell a Skunk Ape before you can see it because it smells so baaad,” I scrunched my nose, “like a SKUNK.” The boy’s eyes got wider—which I did not think was possibleif he’d had wisdom teeth, I’d’ve seen them, but still he didn’t say anything, though I had his full attention.

I continued, “And as you know, up north, in the cold and the snow, they have Yeti.” And this was the ice breaker, if you’ll pardon the play with words. 

I know about Yeti,” he said with the earnestness of a tenured philosophy professor. 

“I felt sure you did. And see? There’s a picture of the Skunk Ape on the cover, right here.” 

His mouth formed an “O” as he looked. His angelic expression did not change, as the words now came readily to his lips. “Do you think Skunk Apes are mean?”

“Good question. Probably. But perhaps you could make friends.”

His eyebrows arched as if reaching for his hairline, his face now even more luminous with an idea, “If you gave them Christmas cookies…and cake…and lollipops?”

“Oh! I think so. However, the lollipops would have to be extraordinarily large.” I demonstrated with my hands an imaginary lolly bigger than my face. “Because a Skunk Ape is over eight feet tall.” (Hand gestures for size.)

He nodded slowly, a playful twinkle in his eye. I have to believe that both of us were picturing the iconic, Patterson-Gimlin Big Foot trundling through the woods toting a massive multicolored lollipop and a grocery bag brimming with Christmas cookies and cakes.

No sale. No matter. My heart was light; my evening made merry and bright.

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