For the longest time I just heard the beads, click, click, clicking, and watched the picture forming, building from the bottom to the top. When I was tired, all the beads slid from the bottom and new beads fell to start a new picture. The pictures were Disneyish, but not Disney. They were pictures I’d seen during the day. Cherry blossoms, of course. Children. Families. People who understood the meaning and use of etiquette. People who had no idea.
A ranger would say, quietly into an ear, “This is a national monument, sir. Please remove your cap, take your smoking materials to the other side of the perimeter; take your argument with your friend there, too. I had to smile; I didn’t remember hearing so much during the day, but there they all were, back again. I smiled. We are one rude nation.
I was tired; the girls and I had been on their feet most on the day. Caroline and I consulted, decided to go back to the Union Station for some supper, and come back to see our last monument, the Jefferson Memorial. They could ride the paddle boats for a bit, then back to the hotel and a good night’s sleep for Mt. Vernon and Montpelier. It was a bit of a hike down the hill to the red bus, but we were among the first on. These red busses fascinated me; on anywhere they stopped and off anywhere they stopped, for a buck.
A look around and I was beginning to sit down, when the bus exchanged its snooze at the curb for a dash to the center lane. I fell to my shoulder and sped pell-mell down the aisle, until my head crashed into a metal grill. I brushed off Laura and Caroline, who were up at once to help. I got up, got to the seat, and took a look at myself and at the bus. “I need to go somewhere to clean up,” I said. The girls said nothing.
The bus pulled back to the curb. Police came on; passengers left. I wondered for a second about their dollars. But the police were down to business, collecting information. We, obviously, were going nowhere. I considered my granddaughters, more mature than minors, but minors nevertheless.
I picked a policeman from the group, and told him he was in charge of them for the time being. I told the girls the same; the policeman was in charge until he handed them off to a new person in charge. I told Caroline to call her mother. Then I stopped remembering.