At 7:50 PM on a Monday evening, Tony told Dad, who was lying in bed reading a book, that he wanted to ride the subway. Dad reacted with exasperation because looking at the time, he saw that it was late. The subway ran till about 9:20 PM. Be that as it may, Dad decided to honor Tony's request because this was the only week night that he could get Tony out of the house. So he got dressed quickly and told Tony to do the same.
Dad ran to get the e-bike which he parked in an apartment basement where it was recharging, and then picked up Tony from the apartment. It took ten minutes for the two of them to get to the nearby Yanqiao Metro station. After parking the e-bike, they waited about six minutes on the platform for the Metro train. Instead of waiting to board the train at the rear, they walked all the way to the other end of the platform to board the train at the front.
The clock said 8:15 PM when they boarded the train that would take them to downtown Wuxi. And it was only then that they began to discuss where exactly they would go. Tony told Dad that he wanted to go to the Apple store in the Hen Long Plaza, but Dad told him that there wasn't enough time to do that. So, Tony instead asked to go to the Sanyang station and look at toys at the Parkson's department store. But they had done this the Monday before and Dad thought that it would be boring to go there again.
As they discussed the question of where to go, Dad noticed how very empty the train was. Dad counted eight people boarding the train at Yanqiao: less than the number of cars that the train was pulling. So Tony was able to run three car lengths and back on the train without passing anyone.
As the train got close to the downtown, Dad tried to convince Tony to go look instead at toys at the Far Eastern Department store which could be accessed from the Shenglimen Station which was one stop earlier on the line than Sanyang.
"You can see the wide selection of Ultraman toys there! It's the best in the city" Dad said. This argument convinced Tony who was in a phase of wanting to buy Ultraman toys.
They got off at Shenglimen and through a series of tunnels walked to the Far Eastern Department Store basement. Dad then had to convince Tony to take the elevator to get from the basement to the fifth floor toy department. (Usually, Tony was gung-ho to take an elevator) When the elevator door opened at the fifth floor, Tony saw the Toy department and sprinted excitedly to it.
Having convinced Tony two times in a row to do something, Dad patted himself on the back for his power of persuasion with his son. But he hadn't considered that Tony assumed that a toy was going to be purchased.
Tony began looking for a certain model of Ultraman figure. The number 22 model to be precise. He couldn't see it on the shelf and so he asked the clerk to find it for him. Dad, who was daydreaming and looking at all the idle clerks on the fifth floor waiting for their shifts to end, only noticed, when it was too late, that Tony had a clerk helping him. Dad felt embarrassed as he saw the clerk crouched down at the shelf looking through all the Ultraman figures as Tony stood beside her. Dad moaned to himself that it would be such a shame to not buy anything, considering that the clerk was acting on the possibility that there might be a sale. He didn't want to waste the poor woman's time.
The clerk found Ultraman Model 22 – it was in the back of the display shelf behind the other models – and handed it to Tony. Then to Dad's horror, Tony and the clerk walked over to the service desk and the clerk filled out an invoice form, for the toy, which Tony then handed over to Dad.
"I can't buy this!" Dad said. "Mom will kill us!"
So Dad, realizing that a firm "no!" to any toy purchases was an impossibility, tried to convince Tony to buy something cheaper. He first tried to get him to buy an Ultraman egg toy that was half the price of the Ultraman model 22, but Tony wasn't interested. He tried then to get Tony to buy a toy matchbox car which was one fifth the price of model 22 but Tony again wasn't interested.
But Dad persisted.
"Buy a toy car!"
"I don't want to buy a toy car!" Tony said.
"Buy the toy car! It's cheaper!"
"I don't want to buy a car!!"
Tony began to cry in an inconsolable manner.
Dad was whooped. He decided to buy the Ultraman Number 22 for Tony. He tried to quickly calculate how he would be able to pay for lunch while he was at work for the next week.
Dad was miffed as he pulled money out of his wallet and presented the invoice to the cashier. So he slapped Tony on the shoulder and told him two things. First, that this was to be the last toy he would get for Tony before Christmas (it was September). Second, that Tony & he would not tell Mom about this. They would not say a thing. Mum's the word and all that.
They walked back with a receipt to pick up the toy and Dad looked at his watch and saw it was 8:55: time to catch the train back home. So Tony and Dad took the elevator to the basement and walked to the Shenglimen train station. All the while, Dad harped about how they mustn't tell Mom and that this was to be the absolutely last toy Tony would get before Christmas.
As they waited at the Shenglimen platform, Dad removed the Ultraman Number 22 from its package and threw the package into a trash receptacle in order to hide any evidence of a toy purchase being made. Tony, who liked to keep the toy packages, reluctantly went along with the disposal.
At 9:10 PM, they boarded the train headed to Yanqiao.. For the entire ride, Dad told Tony that this was the last toy he was going to get before Christmas, and they would have to hide the fact of the toy purchase from Mom.
The train arrived at the Yanqiao station at 9:30 PM and Dad & Tony took the e-bike back home. As Dad rode the family e-bike back home, he kept telling Tony to not tell Mom about the toy and that they would maybe hide it from Mom by putting it in Dad's bag for a day or so.
As they were on the e-bike, they got a phone call from Mom who said that she had locked the door to the apartment because she was about to take a shower. This was fortuitous, thought Dad because it meant that they could more easily get into the apartment without Mom noticing the toy.
They then arrived back at the apartment complex and Dad parked the bike and continued to pester Tony about the toy. He took the Ultraman Number 22 from Tony and hid it in the big and deep front pocket of his Jeans. He ended the talk and the warning and the proclamations to Tony as they got to the apartment building entrance.
It is a three flight walk from the Apartment building entrance to Dad, Mom and Tony's apartment. Ascending the stairs, Dad pulled the apartment key from his pocket in order to open the door that he had assumed was locked. But he discovered the door was open and that Mom hadn't gotten into the shower yet, and was at the bathroom sink washing her face.
Dad crept into the living room and decided on a stratagem of putting the Ultraman Number 22 in a pile with all the other Ultraman figures and Ultraman eggs that Tony already had. Tony, for his part, played with toy cars instead of playing with the new toy.
The ruse seemed to be working. Mom was silently sitting in the bathroom. But Dad was feeling sheepish and in the back of his mind, a voice said that he wasn't going to be able to pull the wool over Mom's eyes.
Still, for five minutes, he thought that was a chance that they could get away with it.
Mom continued to sit calmly in the bathroom, playing on her Iphone.
Dad took a rest on the bed.
Mom, all of a sudden, asked if the boys if they had bought toys. She wondered, she said, because she had heard the two of them arguing as they came into the apartment building. Dad, not wanting to say yes to Mom's query, said nothing. It was Tony who spilled the beans, telling Mom about the toy he had gotten.
Tony and Dad had done themselves in by thinking that Mom was in the shower.
"Tony! I hate you!" exclaimed Dad.
Mom had strong words for both of them.
Dad in turn criticized Tony and Tony started to sob. Just like he had when he was in the department store.
And so when Tony starting sobbing in the innocent way that children can pull off, Dad felt remorse and let Tony sit on his lap.
"You can't hide anything from Mom" thought Dad. There is no point in even trying. Even if Mom had been in the shower, she would have suspected eventually that Dad & Tony were up to something.