forwards. In Ohio, an inexplicable patch of Spanish names shows promise but fails todeliver. Alex chews the names like gum that refuses to lose its flavor. He asterisks theones he deems worthy of further investigation.Now and then, his mother checks the rearview and sees his lips forming oddwords, but the sounds are drowned out by one sputtering NPR station after another.
Alex cannot understand why she can’t have him talking to her while she drives but she
can stand the talk radio prattling on endlessly. As the pass from one station to the next,
discussions are repeated and Alex’s mother seems to take comfort in this. She laughs atthe jokes again, nods with more insistent agreement at opinions she’s already heard.
Alex thinks of the interstate as a railway across a green sea.
is thestrongest magic word he knows. Nine and already a jaded New Yorker, Alex was happyto see the city in the rear view. But now even as every mile puts him the furthest west
he’s ever been, there’s a part of him prepared to go back. On a
separate page, he listssome things that will not be as good anywhere else.
Bagels. Parks. The whale at the
museum. The turret of the Idea Man’s house.
Return is supposed to be part of
travel’s magic spell. Captain Wonder only has to repeat his magic word and he’s Brian
Bryson again, kid reporter and fifth grader at Kirbyville Elementary. Alex has a feeling
this spell he and his mother are working is permanent. That they’ve managed to make
New York disappear.
he says. K
s not the word even as he chokes it out. Magicwords sound like magic words.Alex puts the notebook on the seat next to him and opens his book. It is aboutBrooklyn boy who discovers he is a powerful magician. The neighborhoods and streetsthe book wends
through are Alex’s own
, and maybe the book is part of the spell. Acharm containing all of New York, one he can carry with him across the country.Outside the window, the midwest races away from him.