Going back to visit Haystack

Going back to visit Haystack

John Hay

This time around I got in my time-travel machine and ventured back to the White House, September 1862.

I went wandering around the halls. I noticed president Lincoln — he nodded at me, and I nodded back. I often visit with him on my time travels, but I didn’t feel like it today.

I walked until I saw another friend, John Milton Hay, as I like to call him, “Haystack.” Haystack was/is  Lincoln’s secretary. (I never know what tense to use in time travel situations. When you go back and forth in time as often as a Netflix addict watches shows, you kind of forget what past and future is anyway.)

I try to visit Haystack once a month, because he’s funny. I mean, Lincoln will pull out a good joke every so often, and I’ll chuckle. But Haystack’s job is to go through all of Lincoln’s correspondence and write back to people, so he often has to deal with the dregs of society. People who think of things in terms of demons and possessions — that kind of thing. So he has to be funny or he’d go nuts.

When I saw him, he was sitting at his desk, held up a letter and said, “Get a load of this Hullabaloo. From Tuscaloosa. Freston K. Pierce. He writes the President saying, ‘Whad en taurnation r yah biffoons doin?’ How am I supposed to answer this? You tell me! In the future, do the people get any smarter?”

All I imagined was laying down on the floor of the White House. That’s because time travel tiredness overcame me, as it often does after the first few minutes of going down the backstairs of time. So I decided to lie down. My face was on the wood floor, and I could hear creaking sounds as the White House staff walked. It was like listening to waves on the ocean. I mumbled something really dumb, like “Creakin’s good.”

(The above picture of Lincoln in the middle, Haystack on the right, and me on the left was taken by White House photographer Mathew Brady. All it cost me was a duck’s foot, and a pinch of chaw!)

 

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