Joe was ready to go out to play with his friends when he saw a card on the kitchen table. It looked like a credit card. Joe was curious, and took it.
Usually, the given name on the card is printed completely, but on that card
there was only an initial "J", as his father's name started with the same letter.
A very tempting idea came upon the boy. Joe wanted to trick his friends.
He planned to get back home before his dad would come home from work.
At the playground Joe showed the card to the other children.
It was Irene, Austin, and Devin.
"I've got my very own credit card!" Joe pronounced with pride.
"It's impossible," gasped Austin astonished. "You have to be fifteen, or
even eighteen to have a credit card!"
"He's twenty-one!" giggled Devin.
"This man is eighty years old," Irene sang. "Despite his age he's strong and bold..."
The friends passed the card to each other a few times, and finally returned it to Joe.
The boy put the card to his pocket, and the kids started to play.
This playground was in the middle of the town park and soon a lot of
children, some with parents, some without, arrived.
Joe and friends played for a long time, and then Joe recalled that his father
would be home soon, and he needed to return the card before the adults would find out about the trick. Joe thrust his hand into his pocket, and froze with terror: the card was gone.
"What happened?" Irene asked with worry, and Devin and Austin came
close to them.
"The credit card..." Joe mumbled, shocked. "I lost it..."
His friends exchanged glances, and all started searching around.
They crept on all fours, looking for the card, checking every corner. They
turned over every leaf. They dug into the sawdust and dirt.
Awful! They could not find it.
Joe felt despair.
The playground seemed to him as big as a whole town or forest, or even
another planet. Children, babies, some teenagers were playing and running. They walked around, jumped over the searching friends, and almost stepped on them.
Joe and the others coughed with dust, they hands were hurt with small rocks
and sawdust, they all were dirty as pigs, but the friends did not give up. They did not leave Joe, and he was very thankful to them for that.
Bits of paper, chewed gums, lost buttons...
They found a few pennies, and a keen-eyed Irene had found two quarters.
And it was she who finally called the boys, "I think it's here..."
However, her voice sounded very strange. Irene pointed at a baby boy.
He was siting in the sandbox, and dug the sand with the card, using it
instead of a shovel.
Austin flung himself at the boy and tried to take the card, but the child did not release it. He started cry, his mother looked at the children, and Joe pushed Austin away.
"What?" wandered Austin. "Let his mommy make a deal with her baby! This is your card!"
"No," Joe explained. "She can talk to my dad. It's his card."
"I knew it!" Devin snorted, but Irene and Austin even did not smile.
"Let's try to exchange the card," suggested Irene, and the friends squatted near the child.
They showed to him all their stuff that they had in their pockets.
The children had buttons, color bits of papers, candy, marbles...
But those treasures did not impress this baby. He pressed the card to his
chest, and from time to time he sucked it, plunging Joe into horror - he was afraid that the card would have some teeth marks on it.
Suddenly the child stretched his arm to Irene.
"Mekkie!" he said.
The boys gazed at the girl, and she looked over herself. She touched her
necklace. It was a very beautiful, and probably an expansive necklace.
Of course, the girl even did not think about offering it as a toy.
"Neckie!" confirmed the boy. Irene hesitated for a second, and resolutely
took the necklace off and gave it to the child. The boy grabbed the necklace, and dropped the card, and Joe quickly picked it up.
"Irene..." He was touched with her act. "How about you?"
"You need to get home before your dad!" She glanced at Joe, and looked at
the child again. "I can wait... Or I'll ask his mother... a little bit later."
"Thank you so much!" and Joe ran home.
It was just in time!
Joe had just put the card on the table when he saw his father enter the kitchen.
The boy pretended he was looking for some food in the refrigerator, stealthily watching the man.
Joe's father sat at the table, took a newspaper, and started to read.
The boy waited for a while, but could not stand the tension any longer, and
carefully asked his father: "Dad... What is that card?"
"Ah," the man said, not bothering to put his paper down. He moved the card
toward his son. "It's a membership card. I did not ask about it. Some firm sent to me. A usual commercial action. You can play with it."
Joe was listening, and all events of this day ran through his head, and he
thought about Irene.