1965-10-12 - Onca Elmo
Summary: Amelie calls and Elmo picks up.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
jp elmo 

It was not 3pm on a Thursday. This was 11 am on a Friday and JP decided this was a great opporunity to head out, grab the parts they need from across town and pick up lunch, and FINE ELMO I WON'T TAKE THE DINO!…

There it was the office phone rang. Like it do.

Elmo only said if JP took the dino he wouldn't get back for hours! Owen has many charms but speed is not one of them. Yet. They're working on it.

He ducks into the office, snatches up the phone, and says, "Gearhead's," in that classic New York Jew accent. Already reaching for a pencil to write down whatever string of parts numbers is undoubtedly about to come out of the receiver.

"Bonjour? J'aimerais… parler a mon papa?" came the most polite tiny voice that's called during business hours. There was a pause and she hesitated trying to keep her words distinct so they were really in no rush lacking her father's rapid-fluid cadence. "Hallo?"

Elmo's eyebrows pop up. Here's an unexpected call! He tries out his French. "Ton papa est…" what's the word he wants? "Occupe. C'est Elmo. Hi, Amelie. He's out right now. What's up?" He's trying not to sound worried.

Her voice picked up, the smile was audible, "Ah! Onca Elmo? Je vais bien. Comment allez-vous?" The benefit was she spoke slowly enough to be understandable and it was everything found in a base greeting. Her English? It was so much better than her father's. "Everysing ees alright. I was able to get the phone and wanted to talk to mon papa. I heard mama talking and wanted to know eef everysing was better."

She's so cute. Elmo finds himself smiling, too, listening to her tiny piping voice. "Talking, talking about what?" He leans against the desk that ostensibly belongs to the garage co-owners and neither of them have ever actually used.

"Somesing about a headache. No one here has been smiling very much. Mama says everysing is fine buuuut she seems ver' woreed." Gosh Amelie could tell you ALL about her day and she did. Some of it in French and some in English. Remarkably with the French JP usually uses Elmo was able to pick out actual technical words. "I made a thing in the yard I took a picture to send. It's a water engine like a water mill. Wind mill but with water. I made two circles and put bits of wood between them so when the water hits it they SPIN! around and around and aound in a big circle. And there is a stick in the middle that is stuck there and I nailed the pinwheel to the end of the stick so I can have it sit over the water and it is always pinning. It is not always windy but the water is always there to go woosh so it's always happy. I hope mama likes it."

Headache. Whose headache? Elmo is kind of feeling Mozelle on this one; worry bubbles up under his breastbone. Is this a real headache or a metaphorical headache? Either of which JP is often the cause.

But he's genuinely happy to listen to Amelie about her project. In a similar melange of French (his not so fluid, of course) and English, he answers her. "Did you know you can generate electricity with that? With a multi-geared motor rotating on the axis of the wheel, you can make the gears turn with the water wheel and turn the water energy into direct current." So very happy to discuss engineering, no matter with whom or on what level. "I bet tu maman will love it. I love it and I haven't even seen it."

OH fascinate the kid. "Woah! La partie electrique, d’ou vient-elle?" Where does the electric part come from? She listened and made a little 'oh!' noise. "Is zat what you do? Papa said you make ze lights go out an that you gift is putting zhem back. He sound veery proud of you. Did you always know how to feex 'sings?"

"Everything that moves is energy. Wind, water, even you when you move around. Even throwing a rock is energy. And anything that's energy can be electricity. You just gotta know how to grab it, store it. Tell it that it works for you now." Elmo is warmed up to his subject all right, hopping to sit on the desk. He laughs quietly, going red across the cheekbones, when Amelie says that, though. "Sometimes the lights go out when I get mad, yeah. Your papa doesn't like that. I fixed it for him, though, so he don't have to worry. I didn't always know how to fix things. When I was your age, I broke lots of things so I could see how they were put together. I still do that, just now I can mostly put 'em back together again. Mostly."

That this may be encouraging his niece to start breaking things and give Mozelle the circus doesn't occur to Elmo.

She laughed in a way one could picture this kid chasing butterflies in a field. How this sweet little kid had crazy Bonaventure blood who knows. "Sometimes I think he is just worries. I get to start a new school soon. Gran-papa was real excited. He said I get to change my name for the new school, but J'aime mon nom. Est mon nom. Said it's a fancy school so I have to. He went there and they didn't used to let girls go there but I can go there now." Less excited though she added on, "There was a test. They say Amelie, tres bein, but I think hmmm ees 'okay'. Maybe I'll take things apart and practice and get better like you did. "

Elmo can't stop smiling. "Yeah. He worries. He's gotta take care of the team. It's a big responsibility. We're a lot of trouble." He hmpfs. "Don't let 'em make you change your name. Don't let anyone tell you your name ain't good enough for 'em."

That one, it does occur to him to mitigate. Elmo picks his words as if picking his way across a mine field. "It's real important you go to a good school. Ya grand-pere, he just wants what's best for you. He loves you, that's why he says that. It…don't mean he's right. You gotta listen to him, but you don't gotta agree with him."

Then he's smiling again. "Yeah, you built that water wheel, you'll be real good at taking things apart. That's how you learn to fix things and build things outta your imagination. Take apart lots of stuff, put it back together, and make it work again."

Thus is Elmo passing down everything that gave his own parents tsuris about raising him. Inquisitive, spirited, mouthy kid, a terror with a screwdriver and always following his own quirky little star.

Her smile was infectious and the small laugh on the other side of the phone indicated she was listening. Elmo was pretty good with kids because he never stopped being one. "I'm scared I won't know any of the other kids. I don't have any friends there. Mama…" he paused and sighed, "Mama was talking to papa about the doctor I have to talk to. Mama said is no to worry but hmmm." She didn't know. Kids don't have a lot of information. Unable to keep a kid down she asked, "Can I send pictures of the water engine to you? Meybbe tell me how to make eet better? Onca Elmo help me build a thing by mail!"

Elmo is still a kid, it's true. In some ways he's even younger than his age. So it's with real sympathy that he says, "Yeah. That's scary, not havin' any friends." He knows. "Bet you'll make a friend or two." A kid as charismatic as Amelie can hardly avoid making friends, he figures…although he has no idea what it's like to go to a fancy school where your name matters. He really does not know just how much it can matter, and that it's not the kids who don't want to make friends, it's their parents. "Get 'em to help you build stuff." Because who doesn't like building stuff? Nobody, that's who!

The thing about the doctor worries him. Worries him a lot. But if Mozelle was talking to JP about that, he can bring it up to JP. Is it about Amelie's mutation? Not knowing twists a tiny knot into his stomach.

It's probably fine. School checkup or something.

(Yet something whispers to him, it's not fine. The Jewish curse.)

He's glad when Amelie brings up her project again. "Sure I will, sweetheart," he says, that smile back in his voice. "You send me some pictures, I'll send you back some ideas. But on one condition. You gotta take pictures of what you build and send 'em to me, okay?"

Amelie smiled agreeing almost with a songline quality, "Oui, onca Elmo. I will do so. Then if I ever come visit you will show me how to make electricity with my water pinwheel." It's decided so. She paused and added, "Please be careful." She paused, "Of the ladder. I have seen mon oncas on ladders. Veeery unsafe. Blease be careful when you are feexing shem, por la moi?"

Other voices could be heard behind her. Mozelle inviting her to say good bye to 'your father' and tell him you have to go now. There was light correction something something Onca Elmo. Mozelle took up the phone.


"Pour toi," Elmo promises, already envisioning how he's going to pitch this 'stop it with the ladders on the chairs already' idea to JP. "Je serai prudent. I'll show you how to do that, for sure." His French is substantially better when he's not thinking about it.

His eyebrows go up when Mozelle comes on. Maybe now he can get an answer. "Hey, Mozelle. Everything okay? Amelie said she's checkin' up on JP?"

Mozelle took a deep breath and sounds a little distracted but she was one to put herself together quickly. "Ah, bonjour. Ummm Yes? Yes. Everything is fine. A friend that is…sympathetic has let Amelie use her phone. Where is Jean-Pierre? He in trouble?" There was that tone that didn't want to be accusational but had ever reason to be concerned historically speaking. "How are you?"

Oh boy, does Elmo know that tone. It's been directed at him, and he's directed it at JP, often enough. "He's just out runnin' some errands. He'd have this phone glued to him if he thought Amelie would call. Was hoping he'd be back by now so they could talk." He fidgets with the zip on his coveralls, debating what he should say. "Look, uh. If you need to talk about it, and ya can't talk to JP… I'm here, yeah?"

As soon as he says it he's chastising himself for it; ya yutz, Rosencrantz, she don't need you. She's got her whole family, her whole life is there and there's nothing JP wouldn't do for her or Amelie. He pulls a face. Oh well. It's said.

Mozelle sighed and looked for the words in that okay I'm in mixed company, how do I put this creatively mode. "Talk to you about it? I'm waiting to hear from him about it. Look if you can just ask Jean-Pierre to call me - Non, Ava. Il est le pere d'Amelie. Non, rien ne se passe et je n'apprecie pas votre insinuation … Je ne lui dis certainement pas que vous avez dit bonjour. Oh, je n'ai pas cette discussion avec vous … Oui, on dirait que c'etait il y a quatre ans. Oh. Juste. Arretez."

Oh the string of rapid french to the person she was talking to. Ava? Well there you go. She siged, "Apologee. Can you just ask him to tell me what the doctor said. He knows when to get a hold of me. Thank you, Elmo." She didn't often get that voice but it will stop steel with that tone. "Ava!…. arrêt." Nicer he added, "I have to go. Lovely speaking with you."

Ava might get her heart mightily blessed.

"…Yeah. I'll do that." Right after he tells ME what the doctor said. "Take care, Mozelle." Elmo hangs up and groans aloud in the empty office, hand going to the bridge of his nose.

"Jean-Pierre, I swear ta God," he mutters.

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