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"Excuse me," I said. "Dominick sent me."
"Two bucks," the fat man said. I handed over my second two dollars. This man was either more trusting or gullible than his confederate. He thrust the money into his pocket without examination and jerked his thumb down the street. "Drive around the corner," he said. "There's a candy store near the Ninth Avenue corner. Guy in a leather jacket sitting outside on a bench. Tell him Dominick sent you."
"Well," my wife said as we turned into the next street, "we're getting closer."
I pulled up in front of a candy store near the Ninth Avenue corner. A man in a leather jacket got up from a bench and came toward us.
"Dominick sent me," I said.
"Two bucks," the man in the leather jacket said. I handed over two more dollars. "Okay," the man said. "Everybody out."
My wife and the children followed me out of the car. The man in the leather jacket slipped in behind the wheel.
"This circus thing, it's over around 5 o'clock, maybe a little later," he said as he put the car in gear. "You come back here 5:30 sharp, the car'll be waiting for you."
He tramped on the gas and disappeared around the corner into Ninth Avenue. We walked down the street to Madison Square Garden and the circus. The children had a wonderful time. I didn't see any of it.
For the first time in eight years I found myself thinking about those strawberries that were as big as golf balls and the skiing that started at our front door, and the days when all we had to worry about was the fact that we were too far away from New York to get to Madison Square Garden. Now we were there, and while the show was on all I could think about was my car, which had disappeared around the corner into Ninth Avenue with a total stranger at the wheel. I was certain I would never see it again.