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Guitar Gifts, part XII

A short story in small installments

After a week, though, Gifflet had only four books and none of them were exactly what he needed to teach reading. He had nothing to barter and no money—why didn’t he have any money? Then he could buy what she needed. He cursed his poverty. Maybe he needed a side gig

He went to see Doctor Dolci.

“I can see in your face you have a question, my boy. How can I help you?” said Doctor Dolci. His voice was mellifluous and deep, and it always made Gifflet feel more relaxed. Maybe that was why people trusted him with their health problems, as if he were a real doctor. “Sit down, sit down.”

Gifflet sat. “I think I need a side gig. I don’t have enough money for Arrietty’s books or for her school fund or—”

“I didn’t know you were helping with her school fund,” said Doctor Dolci.

“I’m not,” said Gifflet. “I don’t have any money. But I would, I want to—I know—well, she’s never said anything, but I can tell Brasilia’s worried she won’t have enough.”


“Anyway, I need a side gig. But I don’t know what to do.”

“Hmmm . . . a difficult question. What do you like to do—just generally? Let’s start there to look for clues.”

“Well, guitar—”

“I mean, besides your busking.”

“Oh.” Gifflet thought for a moment. “I like to read. About assassins, especially.”

“What else?”


“It goes without saying. What else? Think, don’t hold back.”

“I like reading and drawing maps.”

“Really? I didn’t know that. What else?”

Doctor Dolci took a little notebook and pen from his lab coat pocket and wrote all the things down:

• Reading (especially assassins).

• Football.

• Maps.

• Picking berries.

• Eating berries!

• Cars (tinkering) and automotive magazines.

• Playing dominoes.

• Memorizing flags of the world.

• Morse code.

• Swimming.

They looked at the list. They were nearly all things Gifflet hadn’t done in a long time because he didn’t have the means, and neither he nor Doctor Dolci could think of any way to make them into a side gig.

“Never mind,” said Doctor Dolci, “it’s a start. We’ll both ruminate on it and I’m sure something will come to us.”

“Okay,” said Gifflet, doubtfully.

“Here’s your list.” Doctor Dolci tore out the page and handed it to him. “Maybe start with taking Arrietty swimming more often.”

“How will that help?” said Gifflet.

“I don’t know,” said Doctor Dolci. “Maybe it won’t. But it’s a good thing, don’t you think?”

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