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Happy To Help

by Carl Robinette

About the Author: Carl Robinette is a writer of fiction, poetry and journalism. His short fiction has been published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Mystery Tribune, Mystery Weekly Magazine and more.


There’s something my dad always says—If everyone cared more about being helpful and less about being happy, we’d all be a lot happier. But I guess some people think they can be the happiest on Earth and they make themselves miserable trying get there. Or maybe a person’s levels of happiness and helpfulness come down to brain chemistry—it doesn’t really matter. I’m just saying it’s good to be helpful. And that’s exactly what I was trying to do.

I had just left from visiting my dad on his houseboat. I was walking out to my car when I saw one of Dad’s neighbors who I knew. He was standing next to a giant olive-green car, some vinyl top land yacht from fifty years ago.

Ray Gage was jiggling the door handle and saying something like, “I mean it. I’ll wait until you run out of air, kid. I don’t care.”

There was a towheaded little kid inside the car with a gappy grin and a thousand-yard stare. I said hi to Gage.

“Huh?,” he said. “Oh hey, Daisy.”

I asked him what was up.

Gage told me the “little jackelope” had locked himself in the car with the keys.

I said, “This is your car?” and laughed.

Gage told me to get bent, the car was a classic. Then he flipped the kid his middle finger through the car window. The kid laughed. It was just another gorgeous quiet day down by the marina. Squalling seagulls, whispering palms, wispy clouds, the whole deal.

“Who is that kid anyway?” I asked Gage.

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