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FIVE
My promise to Jack of, “A big truck like Rubble’s,” was technically fulfilled, though this dispensation was strictly a technicality.

“Truck, Paki!” Jack declared, doing his best to push his mittened left index finger through one of the empty spaces of the fence’s steel diamond opening. “There Rubble’s truck!” he reiterated joyfully before asking, “Where Rubble?”

“Looks like they have the day off,” I prevaricated. “Or maybe they’re working someplace else. You think that yellow skid loader might be Rubble’s?” I asked, feeling as I had when his father had inquired about Santa Clause when he was twice Jack’s age.

“I don’t know!” he said. “Can we see?”

“Only from here, nieto. That’s why they have the fence up. They want to keep us out so we’re safe. No Marshall to rescue us if we get in trouble,” I answered, continuing the charade. “Or Chase to give us a ticket,” I added under my breath. “I’m getting kind of cold,” I said truthfully. “I’m dressed for motion, not just sitting. Shall we head home and go see what Lola’s doing?”

“Go Lola’s house?”

“Ha! No, that’d be one heck of a bike ride. We’ll go to your house.”

“We go Mama’s house?”

“We go Mama’s house,” I confirmed, nodding repeatedly. “It’s yours and your dad’s house too you know. Just like Lola’s house is my house too?”

“We go Mama’s house,” Jack allowed, heading back to the Burley.

“Yes, sir,” I said, getting first his and then my helmets on before getting Jack comfortably strapped into the Burley.

I turned the bike southward before straddling it, again twisted to my left and hollered, “To infinity!” as I stepped on the pedal and drove the bicycle forward.

“And beyond!” Jack supplied.

For a mile the trail diverged from the river and we traveled eastward until Morningstar Drive loomed before us and we arced southward another mile until the river again came into view on our right. “How you doing, Jackie-Jackie-Jack- Frost? You warm enough back there?”

“Uh-huh!” Jack replied, which in no way surprised me.

“Cool. We have maybe another mile and then I’m going to take the ramp up to US 6 so I don’t have to slip and slide through the mud like we did on the way out. Sound good to you?”

“Uh-huh!” Jack repeated.

“Excellent! Paw Patrol! Paw Patrol!” I hollered over my shoulder.

“Paw Patrol! Paw Patrol!” he hollered back to me as we took the far left tong of the trails three branches.

“Okay, Paw Patrol! This hill’s mighty steep! We need to go to infinity!”

“And beyond!” Jack yelled as I struggled up the short, steep incline that teed onto Euclid Avenue’s northside sidewalk.

“Woo!” I exclaimed as I steered the Schwinn onto the grass to go around three concrete posts that guarded the trail from errant motor vehicle entry. As the bike’s front tire escaped the steep incline and hit the sidewalk on US 6 I added, “That was hard work! We should be home in less than fifteen minutes, buddy. You hungry?”

“Uhm-yes!” Jack replied as the Burley bumped up. “I hungry.”

“Me too. We’ll take the sidewalk over the bridge and then take the trail to MLK.”