If they wouldn’t come to him, he’d go to them.
Sneaking out of the home wasn’t difficult once you worked up the courage to try it.
There was bus stop down the street. Harold had never ridden the bus before, but he couldn’t think of another way. When the bus stopped, he climbed on. “How much is it to ride?” he asked the driver.
“For seniors it’s 75 cents,” the driver said.
Harold dug into his pocket. He had a $1 bill and two quarters. He handed the driver the bill.
The driver pointed to a slot in the post next to him. “You put bills in there.”
Harold fed the dollar into the slot. A paper card popped out of the post. “How do I get my change?” he asked.
The driver handed him the paper card.
Harold knit his brow. “This is a quarter?”
“It’s good for 25 cents toward your next ride,” the driver explained.
“Oh.” It seemed like they were into him for a quarter now, but the driver looked impatient so Harold didn’t complain. He put the card into his pocket with his two real quarters. The bus jolted ahead. He fell into an empty seat.
Riders pulled the overhead cord when they wanted the bus to stop. Harold wanted Lexington Avenue, but didn’t know what stop preceded it. Nervous, he pulled the cord too soon. It wasn’t the right stop, but everyone saw him pull the cord. He got off and walked the extra blocks.
He climbed the steps of the porch and put his finger on the doorbell. He didn’t push the button.
This was a mistake. Their first thoughts would be to take him back. Sharon wouldn’t see her father; she’d see an escapee. It would be harder to sneak out again.
Why did he even come here?
Through the front window Harold noticed movement. Leaning against the window frame, he peered in.
Joey sat on the carpet, playing with his trucks in the sunshine. Harold leaned and grinned as the boy tottered around on the floor, lost in his own imagination.
The toddler looked up, finding the face in the window. Harold smiled and waved. Joey waved back.
“I love you, Joey,” Harold mouthed.
Joey’s eyes lit up. “I love you, Grampa!”
Joey jumped up and ran deeper into the house, yelling to his parents that Grampa was here. Harold shuffled down the steps and hurried away. Fortunately, nobody believed children or old people.
Entering the bus, Harold slid his paper quarter into the slot. He dropped his two real quarters into the well. As they clinked onto other quarters, he found a seat.
It was satisfying to hear the clink of real quarters, and to get rid of the fake quarter they’d saddled him with. He had no more money, but at least nobody was into him for 25 cents anymore. He’d sneak back into his room with everything square, confident he’d gotten his money’s worth from the trip.