"Mr. Strider," The gentleman on the bench said. As he said every single evening as Dirk walked home from work.
But of course, today was different. Today Dirk had a human baby in a rolling suitcase.
"Uhhhhh hello mr. Nesbit!" He said, smiling a little too brightly.
Mr. Nesbit looked up at the spindly young man, before looking back down at his newspaper with a tisk.
Dirk hurried past, hoping that the infant inside didn't make a noise.
Into the elevator, and Dirk let out a huge sigh of relief. He crouched next to the suitcase and unzipped it, revealing baby. It hadn't made a noise since he found it, so he didn't know why he was so worried about discovery.
It was almost more worrying that the baby hadn't made noise since he found it.
"So, uh, you got a name?" He asked.
The baby only stuck out its tongue.
"Do you like... Elizabeth? I'll call you Lizzie for short...?"
The elevator door began to open and Dirk frantically zipped up the case again, but didn't have time to stand up before his neighbor, Mrs. Rosalyn entered the elevator.
"What are you doing, crouched on the floor like that? You look foolish." She snapped.
"Sorry ma'am! I... Uh... Euggh..." He stood up, snapping to attention.
She eyed him sternly.
"Or perhaps it's better if you look a fool, so people don't expect anything else."
He smiled nervously again, revealing teeth with braces still attached.
Mrs. Rosalyn's expression softened a little.
"Now I was being a little harsh with you, young man. You work hard at that fancy walmart store and don't get much time off your feet, I understand you needed to rest a bit."
He relaxed and rubbed the back of his neck.
"So... How's your grandson?" He asked.
"He's doing quite well. His arm is healing nicely. Should be out of the cast very soon. How is your family?"
"Oh, y'know... The usual. A little far away... But I talked to my dad the other day... Yeah..."
They reached the very top floor and both got off. Mrs. Rosalyn was about to enter her house when a small coo sounded from Dirk's suitcase. She looked down, mildly concerned. Dirk hurriedly immitated the coo sound, turning it into a yawn.
"Ha ha... Boy am I tired..."
The old lady smiled incredulously as she entered her house, leaving the young man alone in the hallway.
After entering his own apartment, Dirk opened the suitcase again, picking up the baby.
He knew how to pick up small children from when he used to babysit his young cousin, also named Elizabeth.
"Heya, Lizzie, have you had a nice ride?" The baby smiled, placing a tiny hand on Dirk's freckle covered nose.
"Yeah, I'ma be taking care of you, sweetie."
He set the baby on the couch, pulling the other things out of the suitcase. A diaper changing pad, diapers, baby formula and clothes. Baby stuff was expensive as crap.
He set up the changing pad, and set the baby on it.
"Here goes nothing..." He said. That pamphlet on baby care he'd found had better be right.
"You are not an Elizabeth, are you?" He said dejectedly.
After the ordeal was over, he started a pot of water on the stove to make formula with, and went to his closet to change out of his work uniform.
While he did, he pondered a new name for the baby.
"Dirk junior? Oh hell no. Ro...ger? Roger? Rod*rick*? Just Rick? How about... Andy? Daniel? David? Dave? It's perfect. Andy it is."
A minute later he re entered the living room to find the baby exactly where he'd left him.
He picked him up again.
"Nice to meet you, Andy"
The baby's small hand smacked Dirk in the cheek.
"Owww." Dirk rubbed his cheek.
"Did you just... Did you just say 'no'?"
The baby was deadpan, but Dirk would've sworn he looked smug.
"Fine. You get to be Dave. Boring old Dave. No fun Toy Story adventures for you I guess."
Dave stuck out his tongue again.
Dirk took him into the kitchen, where the water had reached a pleasantly warm temperature. The old stove took an hour and a half to bring water to a boil, anyway. Setting Dave on the counter, Dirk mixed a scoop of formula into a cup of warm water and carefully poured it into a bottle. His mother always insisted he keep a bottle in the house in case he found a kitten or a puppy or something. Dirk had thought it was stupid at one point. Not any more.
Sitting at the kitchen table, Dirk fed Dave the whole Bottle, then another one before Dave seemed full.
"You're a hungry little dude. It's like you've never eaten before. Or not. I really don't know. Um..."
Dirk dragged the only other living room chair into the kitchen, and set Dave in it while Dirk cooked his own dinner. Eggs with salsa on a tortilla, and a glass of milk to go with it.
Back in the living room, Dirk sat Dave in his lap, turned on the TV and ate.
"You are watching WBIR, Dallas. Much warmer today, with highs in the 70's. However, we're going to see a cold front moving through by April 20th."
"Oh yeah, we've gotta write this down. Today can count as your birthday, little dude. April 13th, 1996. Happy birthday."
As night fell, Dirk opened the windows to let in the cooler night air. He made a bed for Dave out of a cardboard box and a couch cushion ( He would have used a pillow, but the pamphlet had said babies should have firm matresses), and set it right next to his bed. A low, metal bedframe he had gotten hand me down from his granddad, with the refrigerator box and a matress he had found at the thrift store on top. If he curled up a bit, he didn't even hang off the edge. It really was great, what with all the pillows he had collected over the years.
He clicked on the lava lamp sitting on the desk, and fell backwards on to the bed, making it let out a massive squeak. That cool or puppet clown doll thing he had found a couple days ago sat in the corner of his closet like a guardian. He was about to drift off when he heard a small sniffle.
He looked over, to see Dave, eyes squeezed shut, tucked under his tiny blanket.
Dirk sat up, picking up Dave. He knew the kid was crying, and trying to cover it up. What the heck was up with this precocious baby?
"Oh no, little dude, you're to young to be macho."
Dave cuddled up against him, small whimpers subsiding.
"Ok, tell you what. You can sleep up here for tonight. Sound good?"
He laid back down, with Dave next to him.
Both boys were out like a light within minutes.