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January 29, 2024

Brick buys a Kimona

Published in the Picton Gazette, 25 January 1934

Editor’s Note: This story can be found printed in a number of American newspapers in the summer and fall of 1933, where it is attributed to Kathleen Mallory. In these publications it is spelled “kimono.”

Brick had first seen the kimona two weeks ago. It wasn’t really a kimona. That was just Brick’s appellation. It was really a gorgeous blue chiffon velvet peignoir. Mr. Bonner had brought it. It was late at night, and Brick had tiptoed to the kitchen for a drink of water.

Drinking the water, he had overheard Mr. Bonner talking to Mumsy. He liked Mr. Bonner. He never forgot to bring him something. It was always there on the breakfast table next morning. The most wonderful things. He was listening: “Jerry, you angel … It’s too sweet of you for words, but I can’t let you. You’re a darling … the best friend a woman ever had. But it’s impossible … I’ll shut my eyes and pretend … forever after that it’s mine, when I’m wearing that ragged, shabby old thing in there!”

Brick’s breath expelled on a long breath that was almost a sob. He peeked through the crack of the swinging door to the living room. His mother stood facing him, holding the gorgeous blue “kimona” up to her shoulders. Regretfully, she began folding it carefully back into its tissue wrappings.

“Don’t be absurd. Sylvia.” Jerome Bonner was speaking, gruffly. “That’s my birthday gift to you. I shall be away next month, and I wanted you to have it in time. Don’t spoil my fun, please, old girl. I get such a kick out of doing it for you.

“Please, Jerry,” Brick’s mother said thickly, “don’t, Bring me some little trinket that’s inexpensive.”

“Sylvia … let me take care of you … always! Please, dear. I love you so.”

“Now, Jerry! You know how things are. I’m going to bring Brick up, it first. My first duty is to him. And … why Jerry, I’ve a fine young man to take care of me. I want nothing In this world, beyond my home, here, and Brick!”

Brick had crept off to bed, shivering. Gosh. She had said he was enough.

Then he saw it again. Three days later. It was in a shop window, and there was nothing else there. Only the blue kimona. Some way, somehow, he must get that blue kimona for mumsy.

He went in and priced it. He nearly fell over when the lady said twenty-five dollars. She might as well have said twenty-five hundred. Gosh. That was the same price as the bicycle.

But now the bike was forgotten. Each night, when he was through peddling his papers, he went to stare, fascinated, at the blue kimona. Mumsy’s birthday was next week, too.

He used to worry about it, as he peddled papers. If someone else bought it, first! Seven bucks saved. Gosh, how could he make it? Three more days. He couldn’t make it.

Then several things happened. Mumsy was working in a store, part time, and he was alone one night. In the closet, looking for a book stored away he came across the picture. It was his father, he knew that. Mumsy had told him. Her eyes had looked all scrunchy when she told him. He never asked her any more about him. But he knew he was alive.

Then one day Brick’s father bought a paper from him. Brick knew him instantly. The same face, only the hair was gray now. Expensive fur coat. Costly clothes. “A Post, sonny. Keep the change—two dimes.

The day before mumsy’s birthday, the man stopped again. It was cold. Brick’s fingers were numb with cold. He dropped his papers, and his hat fell off. The man bit off an exclamaation. “My word,” he said, “the same hair even!” Then hoarsely, “Here, Sonny … get yourself something. A bike … shoes!” Brick stared at the fifty dollar bill as the man jumped into a taxi and drove off. Only that noon he had seen the man’s smiling face in the tabloids he had sold along State Street. “Noted actor celebrates new hit by marrying leading lady.”

He began to shiver, but not with cold. Frantically, he searched his paper bag and found the tabloid; the last remaining one. There it was, “State Street Theatre.” Brick started toward State Street. He borrowed an envelope from the cashier. On it, he wrote his own name. It was also his father’s. He knew that, now, from the tabloids. Rick Chandler, Star of New Moon. Inside, he tucked the fifty-dollar bill. It was his defented hope of ever owning the blue kimona or the new bike. But he did not falter, mumsy would want him to.

On the way he saw the sign: “We buy old bikes.” Brick went in. He day came out, minus his dilapidated old bike, but richer by ten dollars. He’d get another, some day. Now he’d get mumsy a birthday present—a blue kimono.

Brick raced to the shop. He nearly suffocated with joy. Marked down to nineteen fifty!

He stole into the house. In the hall, a glittering object arrested him. It was a new bike. It was the new bike. But Brick didn’t stop. He took the stairs on high.

“Hey, Mom! Hey Looky! I bought you a present!” “Brick, you angel!” Sylvia held up the blue peignoir. Tears sparkled in her lashes, “Brick, it’s the most divine thing! How did you dream I wanted one!” Brick swaggered. He strutted.

“Oh girls like a kimona,” he said nonchalantly.

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