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.