Ford was infinitely disgusted with the world; he had just finished reading “Lolita”, and couldn’t help being a little depressed, as a normal result of being disgusted with the world. “How,” he thought, sipping a warm, hour-old whiskey sour and slapping the book down on the grass, “how could anyone write something as gross as that?” He leaned back in his lawn chair, looked through his picket fence at the dull, dusty road, and contemplated for a moment this righteous query; then he took a generous gulp of warm whiskey sour. “The terrible thing,” he said out loud; “the really terrible thing is, there actually are people like that in the world. Queers, who take advantage of twelve-year-old girls! And get away with it, no less! Phagh!” He sneered and felt depressed at the fact that he must live in a world with such perverts. In a fit of righteous indignance he flung the rest of his warm whiskey sour out on to the grass, and smiled defiantly at this act, feeling rather proud of his pride. He, Ford G. Lodge III, was one of the few pure Americans left. Shaking his head with slow seriousness, he let his eyes drift back to the dirty grey street.
A smiling little girl, about twelve years old, dressed in pink, walked coyly down the street towards Ford’s picket fence. She carried her school books in front of her, bouncing them with her legs as she walked. Ford watched her, full of semi-religious pity for the young innocent. “There!” he muttered, “That’s the sort of nice young thing those perverts would go for, the swines. Look at that cute blond hair,” he thought admiringly, “what a shame that anyone should want to defile it! And such a nice, round, clear face, even pretty, to a pervert, I suppose. Imagine some depraved fiend…” The rest of his thought was a mental image; he felt slightly sick.
As he sat quietly and thought about what a shame it was that such a cute little girl had to be exposed to the disgusting facts of life, a shabby black car slowly rounded the corner. A dark, indistinguishable man peered through the cracked windshield, looking carefully about the car. Ford saw the car creeping up the street, and was immediately suspicious. “That could even be one of them,” he said, “Not that he would dare do anything out in the open.” He almost wished the dirty pervert — he was convinced that the man in the car was, indeed, one of the despicable — would try something. He would show him, if he did.
As the car drew closer to the little girl, it slowed considerably, and Ford peered with some concern through the slats in his fence. He let out a slight gasp as the car actually stopped alongside the little girl, and the driver motioned her to the side. He seemed to be saying something, and the little girl tilted her head to one side in curiosity, as she leaned on her elbows against the side of the car. Finally she shrugged and nodded her head, and began to open the door.
Ford could wait no longer. He stood up, rushed to the gate, and cried, “Stop, you swine!” He ran across the road, somewhat surprised to find that the car quickly speeded up and roared off. He had expected at least a fist fight. Turning his attention to the little girl, he said, “Are you all right, little girl?”
“Sure,” she said; “why shouldn’t I be?” She smiled innocently.
Ford hesitated for a moment, and then looked down at her cute blond hair and nice round face. The rest of his thought was a mental image; he smiled. “How would you like to come over to my house for an ice cream cone?” he asked.
Provenance: Cranbrook Opus, 1963