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That inescapable heartache

That inescapable heartache

I sat in the hallway of the Pennsylvania Gazette newspaper building, waiting for a meeting with the publisher, Benjamin Franklin. It was March 21st, 1739. I’d traveled there by my time-machine. I like to travel backward or forward in time to March 21st, the date of my birthday. I’m addicted to that date. That makes sense, it’s the time where I’ve gotten the most positive attention and presents.

Mr. Franklin came out of his office and greeted me. I have time-travel visited him over 12 times. He knows all about my time excursions. He’s even come back with me three times, staying at my place for a month or two. That’s how he was able to “come up with” so many great ideas. We went into Franklin’s office. He seemed troubled. I asked, “What’s wrong, Ben?” He began to cry. Benjamin said, “I’m in love with the seamstress Purde Fowlt. I let my feelings be known. She informed me that she would rather spend a week in the stocks then in my arms. I have known nothing but despair since.”

I shared that when I was very young I had a mad crush on my neighbor, Betty Misture. On my fifth birthday, I felt emboldened to put a dead frog on her doorstep along with a note asking her to be mine. I added a skull-and-crossbones, shaped like a heart. I knocked on the door and ran back home. I was sure my endeavors would win her over. Her parents called my parents and forbid me from ever playing with her again. I took it hard and overdosed on three bags of Circus Animal cookies. My parents took me to the hospital and my stomach got pumped. I spent the night in the hospital. My roommate was a man named Dirksen Malover. We got to talking. I told him my plight.

Dirksen shared that he too had been shot down in flames when thirty-two years earlier he first asked out his one-day-to-be wife, Gilde. He took it hard, gave away all his belongings, and lived out in the woods for three months. He ate insects, walked around naked, and and slept under a pile of leaves. He said his dire melancholy and bedragglement made him a target for repeated animal attacks. He fought off onslaughts of foxes, swallows, deer, and skunks, leaving him scarred and weak. Laying in a moss pit, emaciated and almost done in, Dirksen was rescued by a bear. The bear took him to its cave, feeding him berries and fresh spring water for a little over two weeks. He got back his bearings and decided to approach Gilde for a second time. The bear accompanied him into the city, and stood by him as he knocked on her door. Gilde opened the door. She looked at Dirksen, then the bear, Dirksen, and the bear again. Tears streamed from her eyes as she took Dirsken’s hand. It turned out she loved bears and because Dirksen was friends with a bear she opened her heart fully to him.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Did you follow suit and return to fair Betty’s home the next day?”

I said that the next morning after returning from the hospital, I walked over to Betty’s house. I was carrying our cat Smudge Pot. I figured the cat would be my linchpin. I knocked on the door and Betty answered. She began to sneeze, cough, and wheeze. I didn’t know she was drastically allergic to cats. Her parents called 911 for an ambulance. Betty spent a month in a coma. I felt such a remorse that I avoided her when she came back home.

Benjamin Franklin said, “I’m sorry that happened to you. Have you ever traveled by time-machine to visit your five-year-old self and helped him through what must have been a difficult time?”

I said I hadn’t. I asked Benjamin Franklin if he minded we forwent our visit and met another time. He nodded and I left.

I traveled back to my old home in Springfield, Virginia, the afternoon of March 22nd, 1966. The little five-year-old me was laying on the grass in the backyard. He looked up and knew I was his adult echo. I lay down next to him. I wished him a happy birthday. He thanked me. I said that Betty was going to be okay, but it would take a little while. He said he was relieved. He asked me if that was the last time he would ever do anything that made him feel such pain, regret, and humiliation. I said no. He asked if he’d ever get used to it. I said he wouldn’t.

He held his arms up in the air and let them sway like wildflowers in the wind. I held up my arms and felt the same breeze.

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So much undone

I took my time-travel machine to the late evening of May 19, 1864, and a camp sight in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. I stood behind a tree and saw the writer Nathaniel Hawthorn laying in his sleeping bag while the President of the United State Franklin Pierce sat by his side, holding his hand. Nathaniel was struggling to stay alive. Pierce was whispering what felt like words of comfort.

A twig snapped under my foot and Pierce said, “Who goes there?” I came out from the behind the tree and introduced myself. I asked if I could be of help. Pierce said, “Yes, please. Would you bring my friend Nathaniel comfort by kneading his feet?” I got down on the ground and and unfastened the bottom of the sleeping bag. I took Nathaniel’s right foot in my hands and began to rub the pads. The knots were thick under the callouses.

President Pierce said to Nathaniel, “You have lived a good life. There’s nothing more for you to do.” Nathaniel said, “Yet there remains a tremendous accumulation of things undone.” President Pierce said, “They remain until you are gone, and then are done away with the sweep of time.”

I moved on to the left foot of Nathaniel. I heard an owl in the distance. I love the sound of owls. I’ve never seen one though.

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What happened last night

What happened last night

I felt lonely as I lay in bed last night. I asked the bed if we could talk. The bed said, “Sure, what’s up?”

I said that I was feeling sad and alone.

The bed said, “You’re not alone, you’re with me.”

I said that made me feel better. I asked the bed if it ever felt all alone.

 The bed said, “I did when I was in the mattress warehouse, but not anymore.”

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My weekly walk with the Clown

My weekly walk with the Clown

The Clown and I take a walk together every Thursday afternoon. The Clown and I hold hands when we walk. The Clown has very big hands covered with red shiny gloves. The Clown and I swing our hand-held arms high as we walk. The Clown and I hum out loud as we walk. The hums aren’t songs. They sound as if a group of birds were humming.

I don’t know the Clown’s name. I’ve never asked, and the Clown never offered. The Clown has never asked me for mine. Each of us noticing the other is our names. If this were happening between me and anyone else, I would say that sounds cheesy, but with the Clown it’s not.

Sometimes when the Clown and I are walking and humming, I happen to look down and notice our feet are almost a foot in the air. It feels to me like we’re walking on the ground. But at that moment we’re not.

I’ve never not walked with the Clown on a Thursday. That means I’ve been walking once a week with the Clown since I was two-and-a-half. I have no memories before then.

The Clown is sometimes sad, sometimes happy. Sometimes the clown smells like flowers, other times like crap. Sometimes the Clown lifts its beanie with the spinning propeller and a hawk flies out from its head up to a cloud where it sits and looks down on us.

I’m always excited when I wake up Thursday morning because I know I will be meeting the Clown for our walk that afternoon. When the afternoon rolls around, my heart starts beating in excitement because I know the clown will be showing up soon. Usually the Clown arrives around 3pm. If it’s 2:59 and the Clown hasn’t arrived, I feel like I’m going to lose it because, “What if the Clown is not going to show up?!” But that’s never happened.

Sometimes during our walk, the clown will look me in the eyes. I look back. I get lost in that look and I forget which of us is which. I’m pretty sure the clown isn’t confused. But I can tell the Clown knows I’m confused and seems to feel delight.

If someone sees the Clown and I out for our walk, they often look at us puzzled. I’ll wonder to myself if that’s because I’m not dressed like a clown, or if that person wishes they were me, holding the Clown’s hand.

The Clown’s hand feels like its vibrating in my hand. The feeling reminds me of the joke hand buzzer I used to wear as a kid to shock my friends when I shook their hands.

The Clown and I walk for four hours. At that time the Clown lets go of my hand. I feel disconcerted. The Clown makes a funny face and I feel reassured. I watch as the Clown walks away. I think the Clown will walk back and take my hand and we will continue walking. But eventually the Clown is out of view.

I walk back home. I take a shower. I sit on my couch. I look out the window.


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Myrmph’s triumph

Myrmph’s triumph

I’m related to Myrmph Pwoult, the inventor of the period at the end of a sentence. Myrmph had high aspirations and tried inventing the tub stopper, the wheel, and walking fast, but failed at them all.
Then one day Myrmph was reading a book, and at page fifty-two found himself exhausted, but he couldn’t stop reading because the book was one long sentence without the yet to be invented period.
Exasperated, Myrmph grabbed a hot charcoal from the fire place, and even though it was burning his hand, he used it to mark a spot on the place he had read to so far. This spot held some kind of sway over Mrymph and he stared at it for a couple of hours.
Myrmph realized he was on to something and went over to Brasspout Publishing House, where he found Publisher Fawlp Brasspout in the midst of a non-stop reading jag of the 752 page book, Fantastic Jowls. Fawlp’s eyes were bulging out of his head and he looked like he was going to fall over. Myrmph leaned in, and with the still smoking charcoal, marked a spot on the page that Fawlp hadn’t yet reached. When Fawlp got to the spot, he stared at it with great fascination. He looked up and thanked Mrymph, and bought the charcoal for 20 fish heads. An unheard of sum for those days.

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How I got my start

How I got my start

I was a nervous kid. Everything bothered me. It got so bad that one time a leaf landing on the ground next to me gave me the shiver-me-timbers for a week.
My parents had enough and took me to see our family physician Dr. Flawbers, and he recommended, “Just Like Dad!” brand candy cigarettes. He showed me how to smoke them, and the sensation of the sugary smoke calmed my little kid nerves. Suddenly nothing rattled me anymore.
But then what happened was I sweat sweet sweat that night while sleeping, and I was carried away by a pack of ants to their lair, and when I woke up inside the ant colony I developed claustrophobia and was a wreck again.
I managed to get free, wrote about my adventures, and sent the manuscript to Highlights kid’s magazine. They published it under the title, My Astounding Night in the Ant Trenches!, which got made into an ABC movie of the week starring Danny Bonaduce from the Partridge Family.