Monday, October 3, 2011

Magpie Tales: Henry


I hope that this finds you well, understanding that once you read this, that might change but I don't want to let you down. We made a promise to each other all those years ago that I will keep until I am no longer able.

I sometimes wonder about you, in the same way you do a dream of which you just remember the edges, vague impressions like an over exposed polaroid. I have so many questions for you, if we ever have a chance to stumble upon each other again. For now though it is important that you remember something that happened when we were children.

The sidewalk was lined with people that day, more so than at the holiday parades and we pushed through the knees and elbows to get a better view. We hunched there by their feet, the asphalt burning our own, our shoes long forgotten or never put on in the first place. Everyone was quiet, but the anticipation was thick enough to give us goose flesh.

One neighbor gave a yell when just the roof of the truck was visible, a great silver box on wheels rising through the waves of swirling heat rising from the road. It was bigger than anything we had ever seen, towering over even the two story houses owned by the more well to do families. Everyone started talking at once, as there was much speculation as to what this was really all about.

Mr. Keller beamed with a smile as wide as Christmas, announcing boisterously, "The world will never be the same."

The great truck drew closer and closer until the sky was no longer visible beyond its borders and gave a great hiss as it stopped in the center of our neighborhood. A sigh so fierce it pulled at uncles toupee howled through the crowd as the back of the truck folded down and a team men in blue over-alls marched out bearing boxes.

The over-alled men gave no notice to all the people, and the crowds parted at their approach, falling once more into silence. They carried one box into each home and then returned to the truck. Curious, each family retreated into their homes to see what had been delivered. Door after door after door shut behind them in a great thunder.

By now we had moved to the base of the big bush at the corner of our house, just you and I left to watch as the men surveyed the empty street. Each one returned to the home where they had delivered the box. Some went inside, some went into back yards, some started shaking trees or looking behind trash cans. In extreme cases they used what looked like cattle prods to herd their findings back into the truck.

They were some of the most fantastical creatures you have every seen. A wide eyed cat with purple and black stripes. A gnome with whiskers that stretched to his feet. Panthers. Green skinned aliens with long tentacles. They all paraded into the open maw of the truck.

The last they took was a great elephant. It made nary a sound as it floats on two wings attached to its great shoulders. As we watched them push and shove with those prods to get him to fit, the dirt around our hands became wet with our tears. We held each other as with a great shudder the truck began moving once more,  on to the next neighborhood.

That is when we made the promise and why each year I write to you, just to remind you, even though I have not received a letter like this from you in years. I do hope this finds you well.

The elephant, his name was Henry.

This is a Magpie Tale.

72 comments:

Mama Zen said...

I love this, Brian. The ending really tore at my heart.

LadyCat said...

Tears for the fantastical creatures wherever they may be.

David Allen Waters said...

this was magical, It brought visions of a world, sometime in the future....brilliant....I would love to read more???

Teri said...

Sad. :(

ds said...

Very sad. As if...
More, please. This feels like the beginning of something.

Helen said...

When the circus comes to town ... Brian this is amazing!

psst .. third paragraph, do you mean quiet .. not quite? You can tell how closely I digest each and every word you write, can't you?

Fragrant Liar said...

Poignant, tense, yet fun. Great read.

Doctor FTSE said...

This is a wonderful story because we can't be sure whether the letter writer is . . . what? Loopy? Kidding?
Deluded? There is excellent description and narrative pace. And real pathos - particularly if the scene happened as recounted. First class stuff.
Tiny typo. 3rd para, "Everyone was quiet" surely, not "quite"?

MorningAJ said...

That's stirring stuff. Poor elephant.

Pat Hatt said...

Very imaginative here today
That cat would be scary and cause Orlin dismay
The green alien panther might not though
As in the dark it could glow
A fun tragic tale
Guess there can be such a wail

Sue said...

I think we all need to remember our Henry's. And how we felt about them when we were young enough to feel anything.

=)

kaykuala said...

It would have been a great spectacle to witness. It is an equally exciting narration. Thanks for sharing!

Hank

Claudia said...

never accept parcels you haven't ordered my mom always used to say...did they eat them..? this is ghostly brian - but still they can write..of course henry can't with the thick elephant paws... but at least...he got wings...

Deborah said...

Oh how wonderful ... I loved it!

Zeba said...

Sigh. Big heaving sigh, the one which originates from the core of my heart and resonates through everything I know to be true. Ah.

Prasetyo said...

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ayala said...

sad and magical...I love it!

Gerry Snape said...

Brian...such a thoughtful and tender story...I loved it. Thankyou.

Kathe W. said...

whoa- what a Twight Zone that story was- amazingly writtten and I too want more of this story.
Poor Henry. Very sad.

Fred said...

Very interesting read. Had a lot of images float through my mind- Alien Invasions- Military secrecy, childhood curiousity, and even Noah's ark. Great stuff. Very good write Brian, thanks.

Reflections said...

Lovely magical write. Thoughts of times of mystery and magic, long ago, when things were simpler. Your journeys take us to amazing places.

The Noiseless Cuckooclock said...

Love it, Breath Taking.

The opening lines instantly pull your readers in and make one want to continue.

It is a blessing to see such a masterful story teller exist in blogging universe and entertain hungery minds alike.

izzy said...

At least they recycle! good one-thanks.

Berowne said...

Very good, wildly creative, magic realism...

Carrie Burtt said...

Sad yet truly amazingly written....i love this Brian! :-)

lori said...

First, what a great way to start your story. And, I guess I saw this differently than everyone else because I saw it has two friends who used to have wonderfully vivid imaginations, running around the neighborhood in worlds they'd together created, maybe to protect themselves from a not so pleasant childhood. I pictured friends who'd lost touch, one trying to reconnect with another who doesn't want to remember.

Okay, so I think my imagination is running away with me a little, but this was wonderfully fantastical, and I agree that this certainly feels like the wonderful beginning of something. More please :)

The Bug said...

So TV really WAS the death of imagination! And imagination was named Henry. Sigh.

Excellent magpie.

Daniel said...

What a wonderful letter. Just wonderful in its imagery and imagination.

Kathy Bischoping said...

Whoah. It gives me something of the feel of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery", wondering just what the creatures did in the homes.

Steve Isaak said...

Excellent, emotional-effective read.

Magpie said...

If I had to guess, I might guess the boxes contained televisions and with the delivery of them, we lost our imaginations. Poor Henry.

Tumblewords: said...

Amazing piece!

thingy said...

I'm a fan of a good horror story. This would be a great beginning of the dark tale. Gave me chills.

my day in a sentence said...

:(

Following, mate. :)

Jannie Funster said...

I thought ray Bradbury bought the farm. Well, I guess not!!

This is one cool-ass piece of writing, Bri. Awesome.

xo

nance marie said...

sorry that i don't visit much anymore. it is the same with most other blogs. i have cut back on reading most blogs, and only read three or four on a more daily basis.

cycles of change.

i do plan to watch from afar, as you do remain on my blog list and keep popping up like toast.

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

Beautiful, Brian. Child-like, hopeful and innocent. I wonder what happened to the intended reader.

June_Butterfly said...

MAGICAL!!I guess this is the reason I love coming here.You make my day warm.Make me believe all will be well.Thanks for the support ,always!

Myrna R. said...

So mystical. It really moved me to another dimension. Sad, but nice that you kept your promise.

Eva Gallant said...

A very strange letter!

Josh Hoyt said...

This is great I like the imagery and the exchange. Very fun and magical sounding. The ending makes me stop and think.

JJ Roa Rodriguez said...

thanks for sharing this... I love it..

JJRod'z

Cathleen said...

all the wonder of childhood neatly balanced with the wisdom of an adult... really enjoyed this

Glenn Buttkus said...

Like Jannie said, Ray Bradbury
has re-emerged in the poetic
hinterlands, and you write with
the flair and confidence of Stephen
King, taking us down streets we
recognize in the quiet towns of
our youth, only to find the monsters
living on main street, the vortex
stretched to near bursting, the
mysterious replacing the mundane;
great write, leaving us panting for more.

Caty said...

your imagination and thought process constantly amazes me :)

Lolamouse said...

Brilliant stuff! It does read exactly like a childhood memory-kind of gauzy and frayed at the edges, like a dream. I actually have some childhood "memories" that are quite fantastical. I know they couldn't have really happened but feel like they did!

Kaylen said...

Oh Henry the elephant. I hope we hear of him again. :)

Cinnamon said...

You lost me completely on this one until I read the link to magpie tales- aaahh...now I get it...I think!

Nanka said...

"Alien Invasions- Military secrecy, childhood curiousity, and even Noah's ark" as Fred says here also came into my mind!!
I had read a bedtime story like this one to my daughter many years back called "The Night The Toys Came Out To Play" ~ when they came out of the box and returned at night and a broken lame tin soldier...all in the dream of a little boy!! I liked your story immensely!!

Zuzana said...

What an imagination you have dear Brian, this reminds me of when I was a child and envisioned magical worlds where anything was possible. And sometimes scary too.;)
Have a great day dear friend,
xoxo

Valerie said...

Pure fantasia, Brian. Loved it.

Lorraine said...

I'm teary I love it, can have the elephant? Thanks for the magic you spread it makes me feel better :)

Tara Miller said...

That was a very magical and slightly eerie story love. Well done. ;)

happygirl said...

Stephen, oops, I mean Brian.. this is a story I haven't heard and I want more. Please give me more.

Lyn said...

Great, fanciful tale...my door is open, fantasy always welcome!!

william said...

that would have brought a tear to a glass eye, lovely :)

Jan Timmons said...

Your words, imagination, and poignancy compelled me to read this twice, and part of a third looking for someone's edit of quite-quiet. So many exquisite stories within your letter framework. I think the imagery will stay with me for a long while. Thank you, Brian.

sharmishtha said...

fantastic story brian.

Lena said...

My God man...! You do have a tendency to get me right in the old ticker! I loved this mish-mash of creatures and there was a perfect amount of pathos. I take my hat off to you...!

Jo Bryant said...

tense, surprising, sad, magical - what a fabulous journey it was to read and digest - wonderful writing Brian

Ann Grenier said...

Intriguing fantasy. For some reason I thought of Dr. Seuss's thing one and thing two. I guess I should read Stephen King? You enticed everyone to read all the way through, pretty much says it all. Good work!

secret agent woman said...

Dr. Seuss sprang to my mind, too. A mix of dark and fantastical.

Morning said...

A Perfect Short Story.

You know how to hook your readers from beginning to end, mindful sentiments are shared as well.

:)

Trellissimo said...

Shades of the Dog Warden here...

Isabel Doyle said...

what an amazing and disturbing tale

Words A Day said...

Beautiful, and magical - love the strangeness, and that last line.

lifeisaroadtrip said...

This was really a great narrative, Brian!

Syd said...

I wish that there were more Henry's running free. A great story. I hope that there is more.

Lydia said...

You are a magical genius of a writer. I am in awe of this Magpie and I am sure I'll never forget it.

(No Magpie yet for me this week, as I am catching up on reading others' blogs.)

Tess Kincaid said...

Great write, Brian...

Jackie Jordan said...

Fantastic imagery, surreal and poignant.

farmlady said...

You never cease to amaze me.
For the first time.... tears.