“I know I did.”
“Then take me with you. I’m only small. I’ll fit in a pocket.”
“All right: go and pack.”
“What shall I pack?”
“Don’t ask me. I don’t know. I’ve never travelled with a teddy bear before.”
The conference is a strange one. There are no women present and only one person of color. Nobody speaks to him. When he reads, I am the only one to hear his paper. It’s actually quite good.
I move from that session to the next one. The man sitting beside me opens his briefcase and tells me to look inside. I do. He has two pistols in there.
“Are you packing?” he asks me.
“No,” I reply. “But I packed to come here. So did my guardian.”
“Guardian?” the man raises his eyebrows. “That’s cool: a body guard, eh? You need to pack round here. But a body guard is great. Where are you going tonight?”
I tell him.
“That’s a dangerous area of town. You’d both better be packing if you go down there.”
“Thanks for the advice,” I nod to him. “Are you going to the reception?”
“Yup,” he smiles. “I’ll see you there. And don’t forget to pack.”
“Well, Basil,” I see when I get back to the hotel room. “It looks like you’ll be going out with me tonight.”
“That’s great,” little Basil gives me a big teddy bear smile.
When I get to the reception, my friend from earlier is there. He nods at me and smiles at the bulge on the left side of my jacket.
“Good to see you’re packing. Can I have a look?”
“Sure,” I say and open my coat. Basil sits up, opens his eyes, and gives him a little wave. The man’s mouth falls open. He stares at me, wild-eyed.
“Ain’t nobody gonna tackle a mad man who’s carrying a teddy bear,” I say. “Now that’s really packing.”
He walks to the bar, orders a double-double and swallows it, Ker-Splosh.
“That’s telling him,” says Basil, snuggling back down in the warm beneath my armpit. “Hi-ho, Silver: let’s go out and get those gangsters.”
Comment: For Tiffany who understands the important things on the brighter side of life.