Waiting for Corbin

By Daniel Mallock (April 2019)

Riders of the Dawn, Hongbin Zhao



When I opened the door there were two young kids, a boy and a girl. They were about ten years old. The boy was holding a laminated, red notebook folder. I could see their bicycles strewn on the front lawn behind them.


Me: Hello!



Me: Are you selling them for some organization?





Me: Okay, Corbin. What have you got?




Corbin: No.


Me: Do you have a picture of the bracelets?


Corbin: No.


Me: You wouldn’t be wearing one of these bracelets, would you?


Corbin: No.


Me: You and your sister live in the neighborhood?


Corbin: Yes.

I could see that Corbin had a nice stack of ones and fives in a little pouch in his open notebook from which he was showing me a hand-written menu of bracelets. It all seemed just almost legit. 


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(I give Corbin a dollar bill—the cost of the starburst bracelet.)







Corbin: Okay, thanks!



Bad Blood,” so that for me much of the documentary was review. She suckered lots of powerful, wealthy people with her fake deep voice, ridiculous Steve Jobs-style black turtleneck outfits, and disturbing, unblinking, piercing eyes. She was the whole package, just like “Corbin” and his “sister.”


As I write, I glance out the front windows now and then hoping to see Corbin and his sister ride up to the house on their bikes. They never arrive.



The pitch from Corbin and his sister was perfectly timed. Exhausted from weeks and months of political crisis, cultural collapse, controversies, talk of revolution, and events of cruelty and violence and hate so vile and horrible that one can barely process them in the mind or heart, I was a perfect mark. Corbin and his sister were a promise of something special: that there are young people (and their parents, apparently) who are good and decent and have a strong work ethic, kids who embrace integrity and the political and cultural system that we have in this country that allows and encourages such things.


When I had answered the door many hours earlier, I immediately smiled. I was looking forward to Corbin and his sister returning with my new handmade starburst bracelet with black edging. I wanted to tell Corbin and his sister how superb they are, and how happy I was to have a new handmade Corbin-and-sister bracelet.


The sun is falling in the sky and night is coming on, and I am still waiting for Corbin and his sister.


I never knew until today how much I really need a new starburst bracelet with black edging.


I hope that nothing has happened to Corbin and his sister that prevented them from returning. Maybe they forgot which house was which, maybe they forgot who ordered what. I hope they are alright. 


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Addendum: The Next Day


I’m sore from picking up leaves. I’m having a small breakfast in the kitchen, it’s mid-morning. It’s chilly and cloudy today, not as sweet and bright and warm as yesterday. I’m on my second coffee now and the doorbell rings, then an insistent knock. Whoa!


I run to the door, it’s Corbin! Holy !@#$!


Me: Wow! Corbin!


Corbin: Here’s your bracelet. I’m sorry I’m late. I know I said I’d be back in 25 minutes.


(Corbin gives me the bracelet. It’s fantastic. Kind of a woven, stretchy plastic.)


Me: Wow. This bracelet is awesome!! Dude, you have to come back later in the week so we can buy more bracelets.


Corbin: Well, you can just call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx.


Me: I’m sure I’ll forget your number, Corbin. Can you just come around on your next sales cycle? You know, sometime later in the week?


Corbin: Yes.


Me: Where’s your sister today?


Corbin: Oh, she’s at home.


Me: Oh! Ok. Great. Corbin, you are fantastic. Tell your folks I said so, too.


I put on my new bracelet, I can’t stop smiling.
I’m now overwhelmed with surprise, and guilt for having been so cynical and negative.


I make another coffee. I have to write an addendum. I think, am I too cynical?


I drink my coffee. After some cogitation, I conclude that somehow, somewhere, this is all Elizabeth Holmes’s fault!

Bracelet made by Corbin, 3/24/19


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Daniel Mallock is a historian of the Founding generation and of the Civil War and is the author of The New York Times Bestseller, Agony and Eloquence: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and a World of Revolution. He is a Contributing Editor at New English Review.

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