by John Curran
Little Lawrence, well, he loved that Coney Island. He loved to go there and float, in his floatie. It had been so wonderful back in the day, when he’d been just a little tyke, and him and Pa and Ma would all go to Coney Island together.
Those were the good days, when Pa had been around, and he and Ma had been in love. And then little sister had come along, and then there’d been that accident at his work, and after that things were different, and Pa and Ma started fighting all the time. And then one day Pa just left and he ain’t never come back. And now it’s just me and Ma and little sis.
We live in a different place now. It’s a lot farther from Coney Island and I miss it so. One day me and Ma and little sis went back to Coney Island. It wasn’t the same without Pa. And it was a cold day that had started out warm, and we didn’t even get around to cooking up our hot dogs, there on the beach, the way we always used to do. It wasn’t the same without Pa. I hardly got to float at all. It got real cold, all of a sudden , and we left early. It was too cold.
After that I missed Coney Island, so much. We were living in the city now, Midtown, in a little apartment. Ma got a job in the donut shop downstairs. I started having to go to school everyday, P. S. 183. I was like seven or eight now, my how time flies, and I hadn’t been to Coney Island in a long time. My floatie was still over there, in the corner, and sometimes I would look over at it and dream that I was out there again, floating in my floatie.
This one day, I just felt so sad. And Ma was home from the donut shop, for a minute, on her coffee break. It was a Saturday, no school and it was Springtime, busting out, getting warm already. It had been cold earlier. It was about ten in the morning, I remember it all, real well.
“Little Lawrence” said Ma “How old are you now?” And I said you know Ma, seven or eight. “Seven or eight, and you’re a big boy now ain’cha. But I know you’re sad, Little Lawrence, about Coney Island” My Ma, how did she know? ‘Cause she was my Ma I guess. “You know Little Lawrence” she says “I bet if I helped you with some instructions we could get you to Coney Island all by yourself” “All by myself Ma?”, says I.
“Yeah” she says. “I’m gonna make you a sign, and put it around your neck, and put you on the A train to Brooklyn to get you started, and doggone it Little Lawrence, you can take your floatie too, and float to your little hearts content.”
Well, ya know what, I loved my Ma right then, she was so adventurous. So I had to be too.
“OK Ma” says I.
So Ma made a sign. It said ‘Lord please get this little boy and his floatie to Coney Island, ‘cause his Pa run off and all he wants to do is float. Signed, His Ma. P S His name is Little Lawrence’
Well would you believe it, that sign worked so good that I had no trouble getting all the way to Coney Island and back even. I floated all day, and what I most remember was the nice man who bought me all the candy I could eat and wanted to rub suntan lotion all over me. I didn’t let him do that though, ‘cause I really hate, you know, that greasy kids stuff.
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