Perhaps my voice had the same timidity that had been in little Melon Head's when he ordered breakfast. Williams did not break his stride or shift his gaze. He did not acknowledge that I had spoken, and in one instant I knew that the words I chose would have to be the right ones. "Do you remember a kid named Don Nicoll?" I asked.
He stopped in his tracks and looked at me. The hard edges of his face melted, and he said softly, "I sure do."
"Well," I said, suddenly a child myself, "he's my father."
We talked, not for long, while the fathers and sons stood by, puzzled and envious. The words I had spoken had wrought some magic. No, my father was no longer a minister, and my grandfather had died, in Faulkner Hospital, where Williams had once visited a gravely ill boy. He said he was sorry and asked me to carry his best wishes to my grandmother and my parents.
"We wondered," I sputtered, "if we could have a picture."
"Why, sure," he said and threw his arm across my shoulder. "Is this your husband?" Barry wriggled like a nervous child as he hobbled the camera between his hands.
"Sort of," I said stupidly, wanting Barry at that moment to be bound to my family.
"Well, that's fine, just fine," said Williams, gallantly ignoring our fumbling with words and our camera. Barry took two photographs, and we thanked Williams.
I sent my grandmother a copy of the picture Barry took of me with Williams. She tucked it away, right along with a photo of Williams with Melon Head, taken 51 years ago this summer. Until she died two years ago, Grandma kept the pictures in a drawer with other family photos and mementos—things you don't look at often but are glad to have.