Tutor, dressed as a priest at leisure in black standard issue priest pants, a Grateful Dead T-shirt, and red, white, and blue biker head band, his feet in Jesus sandals, with black tire tread for soles, is on Audrey's bed, rereading Hans-Georg Gadamard's Philosophical Hermeneutics and trying unsuccessfully to decipher the notes he had made in the margins forty years earlier while tutoring General Pinochet's kids in Chile, on assignment as a Morals Tutor for The Private Bank of Wealth Bondage. Audrey, heir apparent to the material world, in pink corduroy play pants, Audrey T Shirt (emblazoned "Own Rule Save" over a globe spinning in space), a faded blue denim jacket, and grubby pink Keds, is sitting back turned to Tutor on the floor with crayons and poster paper. Momma's birthday is coming up soon. (August 9th, to be exact.) Audrey, concentrating so hard the tip of her tongue is out, is drawing Momma a picture. After many minutes, she raises her work over her head, arms extended. "See what I made?" She does not turn around.
The picture shows a girl about Audrey's age, with as it happens a shock of unruly red hair, wearing pink corduroys and a blue denim jacket, floating upward, over a castle courtyard, holding two big bunches of colorful balloons, on which are written, "Happy Birthday Momma!"
"That is great, kid!" says Tutor. "Momma will love it. She can buy any painting in the whole world, but only you can give her what she wants most, 'Kid Art' from her own kid. But don't forget to sign it"
As Audrey signs, Tutor begins to make huge snuffling, crying sounds, like Mr. Snuffalffagus. Audrey does not turn around. In a caring, diagnostic tone she has learned from Momma, she says, "What is wrong? What is wrong, Tutor?"
Tutor wails, "I want Kid Art, too!"
Audrey calmly points out, "But you don't have a kid."
Tutor wails, "That is why I am crying!"
Audrey says, "Well, you are not my Dad."
Tutor wails, "I know I am not your Dad."
Audrey says, "Well, I could make you something on your birthday anyway, maybe."
Tutor wails, "What birthday? I don't even know when I was born!"
Audrey instructs him, "Ask your Mom and Dad."
Tutor breaks into a wild moment, like some of Audrey's, fists dancing over his head, "I don't have a Mom or a Dad!"
Audrey knows this is serious. She puts the crayon down and joins him on the bed, her arm around his waist. "Everyone has a Mom and Dad, Tutor, even if they don't know their Dad."
Tutor says, "I never knew my own Dad." Audrey comforts him, "Me, either."
Tutor wails, "But at least you have a Momma, I don't know my Momma, either."
"Well," says Audrey, where were you born? "All I can remember is a barrel, or trash can, or dumpster on the street somewhere, Troy, Rome, Carthage, Babylon, Jerusalem. I don't know! I never had a real home."
"That is very sad," says Audrey. "I could make you something for Father's Day, but you are not a Dad." Tutor wails louder. "And you have no birthday, at least you don't know when it is." "Could you do it for Most Trusted Advisor Day?," asks Tutor. "No, says Audrey, going back to the floor to finish signing her art work, "because you are not the Most Trusted Advisor, Master Jack is. You are just my babysitter, and I don't even need one. Besides there is no such thing as Most Trusted Advisor Day. Tutor flails about raging and groaning, pounding the bed with fists and feet, like Audrey having a meltdown.
"Maybe for for Christmas," says Audrey, "if you are good. Now act your age. How old are you, anyway?"
"Well," Tutor says, "Dr. Rabelais, my old friend from College, examined me once, and he said I am at least as old as the hills. That was back in 1513. And I must be older than that now by now."
"Act like it, then," says Audrey, "and maybe I will make you a painting some day, too. Calm yourself!" ("Calm yourself" is a phrase she has learned from Momma.) Rising she reaches under her pillow. "You can hug my blanket if you want, but be quiet now, ok? You know we can't make so much noise all the time. It hurts Momma's ears. You can hug my snuggy, but don't chew on it, ok?"
Slowly Tutor returns to normal, hugging Audrey's security blanket, and turning the pages of Philosophical Hermeneutics this way and that in search of the meaning, much like the intended reader of Gifthub.