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Lego Joe

Lego took the long way because he wanted to see if the girl who played violin in the Public Garden was out. He really liked her shoulder length black hair that she didn’t tie up, and how her hair would dance when she played, especially when she really got into it. When it got dark, she had a fiber-optic weave that would kick in, so you got a light show with the Mozart. It was a good gimmick to get people to actually stop, think twice about dropping that coin. Lego’s instinct was to avoid parks, really any place with large open spaces and groups of people. These were residual preferences from his former military career. When he left the ‘stans for the last time, he was required to participate in a 100 day observation that included sessions about the importance of winning little victories every day. Hearing a beautiful concerto in the park–this is what made life worth adapting for. Other notables: his rig, and Spooky the dog. The former lay on his kitchen table in pieces, the later, probably asleep underneath it.

Lego crossed the Arlington Street intersection and entered the Public Garden through a wrought iron gateway. Original, from before the twenty year drought that dropped the water table so low, most of the Back Bay crumbled on dry pilings. Some pockets retained the traditional brownstone look and feel, but most blocks in the neighborhood re-associated under new corporations with new money who rebuilt with radically changed visions. This was most evident on Marlborough Street, which shared a common louvered omni-glass ceiling that opened and closed in response to the weather, harvesting precipitation and solar heat. That block also maintained a closed-circuit sewage system whose only outputs were bio-tape sealed bales of night soil for the farmers in Dover, and dried tan bricks that were sold to repharmacyclers. Increased scarcity of some materials necessitated the reclamation of estrogen, beta blockers, and the like. These got turned into cheap generics and exported around the world, mostly to Africa.

Inside the public garden, the water fountains had been drained for the season, though not the duck pond. Lego headed for a bridge that crossed the pond. As he walked, he saw a man in a red parka enter the gate behind him. He had a silver model Toyota Hilux the size of a small dog under his arm, and he wore a backpack that bulged at the bottom, like there was something heavy inside. Probably the remote control.

It wasn’t too dark yet, but the air was chilly and the wind had picked up. She usually played on the bridge and he craned his neck to see if she was there. Then he watched the man with the red parka step down inside an empty fountain and start up the truck’s gas engine with a pull cord. The little pick-up truck drove around in tight circles a couple times, so fast it was up on the sides of the fountain about to fly off the lip. Then Lego caught the music drifting over the water and he walked a little faster towards the bridge.

Foot traffic through the garden slowed on the short suspension bridge as people stopped to hear her play. Behind him, two teenage boys in skateboarding gear were moving toward the empty fountain to watch the guy race his car. Lego found a spot across from her and leaned up against a waist-high wall of hand cut stone. The bridge had been entirely rebuilt a few years earlier with the portraits of famous Boston philanthropists carved in relief. It made a great spot to play.

She had just finished a song to a smattering of applause. She bowed, took a deep breath, and started a new song, slow and melancholy, classical something, her breath smoky around her scarf and the fingerboard. He heard the toy truck gunning its engine and people jumped out of the way as it drove more or less straight down the path, swerving around frozen feet. Some local yelled a string of curses as his ankle was clipped. There were a lot of people on the bridge.

Something clicked inside Lego Joe and he found himself pushing through the crowd to get to the violinist and kind of tackled her backwards over the side. It wasn’t a long drop, maybe ten feet. The water and the mud helped break their fall, just as a loud explosion ripped through the air.

Lego pulled her up sputtering water and duck shit, half her face covered in slime from the bottom of the pond. Lego had to wipe goo from his own eyes to see and without really thinking about it, again, instincts took over and he pushed her up under the bridge. The ducks and swans had gone nuts, taking off in all directions, a storm of feathers and honking. Above them people wailed. The violinist looked at Lego with an expression of he didn’t know what. Sort of half-surprise and maybe even anger. Lego thought about taking off and trying to find the guy in the red parka, but something told him he’d be ducking into a T station and stripping down to something else, losing the back pack, whatever. “Mother fucker!” he swore, catching his breath. They stood there for a couple seconds leaning against the stone foundation of the bridge, and then Lego forcibly convinced the violinist to follow him out of the park, and he half pulled, half carried her to the Four Seasons.

“What about the people?” she chattered through bluish lips.

“Let the paramedics handle it. We got to get dry.”

They walked right into the lobby leaving muddy footprints and a very concerned concierge made a bee-line for them. By now half the hotel had their noses pressed up to the glass, but the concierge, a Latino fellow with a pencil thin chin-strap beard, turned out to be a pretty decent guy and took them right to a storage room behind the front desk. He ripped open a plastic sack of white towels and began wrapping them around the girl. Plush, over-sized terry, three inches thick.

A bell hop in an immaculate uniform entered the store room and the concierge tossed the bag of towels at him and ordered him to go to the park as quickly as possible. Then asked Lego, “Are you okay here for awhile?” Lego and the girl nodded. Lego felt the shock starting to settle in, he focused on his breathing. The concierge grabbed another bag of towels and headed out. As the door swung shut, they could hear the sirens coming down the street.

“Name’s Joe, by the way,” Lego said, starting to shake as he quickly sat down to assume a recovery position.

“Rebecca,” the violinist said, and sort of crumpled backwards into some canvas laundry bags.

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