Then I stopped losing teeth. I was going to have to find another source of income but could think of no other kind of fairy that would pay for offerings such as hair trimmings from the barber shop or nail clippings or boogers. “What good is a Boogy man if he won’t pay for boogers?” I wondered. The money stopped and I was left to find contentment once again with birthday cards you have to read out loud in front of everyone and Christmas bonuses that somehow find their way into the toe of the stocking. And chores.
One night, not long after I was able to sleep without scratching due to stray hairs wandering around my bed (do you know how difficult it is to get hair trimmings out of your sheets?) I woke up one morning to the sound of a quarter falling to the floor. I know it was a quarter than fell because it was still spinning when I looked over the edge of my bed. My awakening hand brushed it from under the pillow and pushed the coin out, landing on the hardwood floor. Ok, so I had a stray. I would not have worried so much about it until the very next week, I found another quarter under my pillow. And the next week.
I started to worry. I inventoried my incoming teeth and they were all present. The boogers were still stuck right were I’d wiped them. I doubted it was the nail clippings or the hair trimmings. I worried so much I got sick and my mother took me to the doctor who looked me over, poked and prodded, took my temperature and the works. You should have seen the look on his face when I asked if he saw were any new suspicious marks looking like surgery scars. My mom started to laugh then froze with a look on her face as if she’d just remembered she left the iron on or the car door open.
Quarters continued to show up week after week and I didn’t say a thing. Dad kept smoking his pipe behind his newspaper after supper and dropped no hints that he was up to something. One Saturday I heard the radio from the garage indicating Dad was working on the car. One often hears a mechanic talking to the car or to parts or to tools or to all of the above because of all of the above, but this Saturday the sound of the radio was the only sound for nearly an hour and nothing else. Dad came through the door, his coveralls as clean as when he just put them on carrying his tool box.
“Jamie, c’mere,” he motioned me over to the table.
I came to the table.
He opened his gray tool box. “Where are my tools?”
I looked inside. It was empty. Not only was it empty, it was clean. The brand-spanking-new kind of clean, complete with the brand-spanking-new kind of smell and a shimmer of factory oil to prevent rust. I looked at the outside of the box: same scratches and dings, same dirt. Same STP racing sticker. Inside, nothing.
“At first,” he said, scratching his head, “I thought I was being forgetful, laying a tool down some place and forgetting. I’ve not been able to pliers or hammer. Then socket wrenches disappeared. I thought I’d loaned them to Mr. Sanchez across the street, but then the box wrenches . . . and now this. Would you have an explanation?”
I was sent to my room to think about what I’d done, knowing I did nothing. Dad passed sentence knowing there was no other explanation, but felt he had to do something. I was sad my father was disappointed but what came to my mind and could not say made sense . . . sort of. Going to my desk, I found a piece of paper. Drawing something may help me feel better. I found my cigar box of crayons.
I loved my cigar box and could not wait for the start of the school year when we took our supplies in them to tuck under our desks. That scuff right there across the gold border on the corner happened when I dropped the box on the bus after Suzy bumped my leg as I passed by. I ran my finger across the black scar thinking of her pig tails and smile. She gave me one of her hair ribbons and I keep it inside the box along with other keepsakes, like my pen and pencil set my father used when he was in high school a hundred years ago. I opened the box . . .