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Chapter 12 Little Forrest

Sue and I got off the bus at Savannah, then I went and got a cup of coffee and sat outside the bus station. What could I do next? I didn’t know. So after I finished my cup of coffee, I took out my harmonica and began to play. I played two songs ─ and a man walked past and threw some money into my empty coffee cup! I played two more songs, and soon the cup was half full of money!

By the end of the next week, we were getting ten dollars a day.

Then, one afternoon when I was playing to some people in the park, I noticed that a little boy was watching me carefully. Then I looked up and saw a woman who was standing near him.

It was Jenny Curran.

Her hair was different, and she looked a bit older, and a bit tired, but it was her all right. And when I finished playing, she held the little boy’s hand and came across.

She was smiling. ‘Oh, Forrest, I knew it was you when I heard that harmonica. Nobody plays the harmonica like you do.’ ‘What are you doing here?’ I asked her.

‘We live here now,’ she said. ‘Donald works in a business here in Savannah. We came here about three years ago.’ When I stopped playing, the rest of the people walked away. Jenny sat next to me while the little boy started playing with Sue.

‘Why are you playing your harmonica in the park?’ asked Jenny.

‘Mom wrote and told me about your shrimp business, and how rich you were.’

‘It’s a long story,’ I said. ‘Is that your little boy?’ ‘Yes,’ she said.

‘What do you call him?’

‘His name is Forrest,’ she said quietly. Then she went on, ‘He’s half yours. He’s your son, Forrest.’

I looked at the boy, who was still playing with Sue. ‘My . . . son?’ ‘I knew that a baby was on the way when I left Indianapolis,’ said Jenny, ‘but I didn’t want to say anything. I don’t know why. I was worried that perhaps ─’

‘Perhaps he would be an idiot,’ I finished for her.

‘Yes. But Forrest, he’s not an idiot, he’s really clever.’ ‘Are you sure that he’s mine?’ I asked.

‘I’m sure,’ said Jenny. ‘He wants to be a football player.’ I looked at the boy. ‘Can I see him for a minute or two?’ ‘Of course,’ said Jenny, and she called to him. ‘Forrest, I want you to meet another Forrest. He’s an old friend of mine.’ The boy came and sat down. ‘What a funny animal you’ve got,’ he said.

‘He’s an ape,’ I said. ‘His name is Sue.’ ‘Why is it called Sue if it’s a he?’

I knew then that I didn’t have an idiot for a son. ‘Your Mom tells me that you want to be a football player.’

‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Do you know anything about football?’ ‘A bit,’ I said. ‘But ask your daddy. He’ll know more than me.’ He put his arms round me for a second, then went off to play with Sue again.

Jenny looked at me. ‘How long have we been friends, Forrest?

Thirty years? Sometimes it doesn’t seem true.’ She moved nearer, and gave me a kiss. ‘Idiots,’ said Jenny. ‘Who isn’t an idiot?’ Then she got up and held little Forrest’s hand, and they walked away.

Well, after that, I did a few things. First I phoned Mr Tribble and told him to give some of my money from the shrimp business to my Mom, and some to Bubba’s daddy.

‘Then send the rest to Jenny and little Forrest,’ I said.

That night I sat up thinking. ‘Perhaps I can put things right with Jenny,’ I thought, ‘now that I’ve found her again.’ But the more I thought about it, the more I finally understood that it was better for the boy to be with Jenny and her husband, and not to have an idiot for a father.

An idiot? Yes, I’m an idiot. But most of the time I just try to do the right thing.

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