THE LONG WAIT

Mike, the cabbie, was relieved. He just dropped off his last passenger and was going to pick up his wife, then head home. And not a moment too soon, he thought to himself as a nor’easter was headed their way. 

Suddenly the wind whipped Mike’s cap off his head and he chased it down the steps. Turning back to go to his cab, he spotted a figure huddled in the corner. Another drunk, no doubt, but then he heard crying. He inched closer and the streetlight revealed an old woman wrapped in a shawl. 

“Oh, shit! I swear I got the worst luck in the world!” Mike muttered under his breath. Knowing his wife Laura would kill him if he didn’t help the old lady, Mike called out over the wind – “Excuse me. Are you ok?” 

A weak voice replied “I’m lost and scared and forlorn. Please help me!” 

“I can take you to the police station” suggested Mike. “They can help you.” 

No! I need to see my son. Please take me to my son.” 

“Look, lady, I wanna help you, I really do, but my wife’s waiting for me and the weather’s bad.”

The old woman started sobbing and it was too much for Mike. “Okay, I got an idea. What’s your son’s address. If it ain’t too far, I’ll take you – otherwise, it’s the police station.” 

Immediately the lady responded. “Renwick’s. That’s where my son is.” 

“Your son’s at Renwick’s!? Laura works there! C’mon … we don’t want to be late!” 

“Jack is very patient. He knows I’ll be there” replied the old lady. 

“Well”, said Mike, “my wife ain’t so let’s skedaddle.” 

The woman had a little box which she placed on the back seat next to her. The rain and wind were terrible as Mike made his way to Renwick’s. He called Laura to let her know he was coming and filled her in on what was going on.  The old woman hummed softly in the back seat, as in a trance. It sounded like a haunting lullaby, tender and sweet yet mournful and lonely. 

Finally they arrived at Renwick’s. Laura was waiting under the awning but she was alone and the store was dark. Mike flashed the lights and Laura made a mad dash for the cab. Laura turned around to greet the mysterious little old lady but the back seat was empty. 

“Well, where is she?” asked a surprised Laura. 

“Where’d she go?” stammered Mike. “I was here the whole time. No one left this cab!” 

Laura reached for the box. On the outside was scrawled Jack McGuire, Pediatric Unit, Bed #27 and the note inside read – “For my precious baby boy, Jack. Sorry I made you wait so long. My work is done. Mommy’s finally coming.” Inside was a tiny gold lantern with glass panels etched with cherubs.

“OMG! You’re not gonna believe this, Mike. This was once the site of the Renwick Smallpox Hospital. A lot of people died from smallpox, especially babies. So many helpless babies – God bless them. This is a sign, Mike. I believe you were touched by an angel.” 

NAR © 2019

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