Is Harry get­ting too creepy to live with?

The Compass - - NEWS - Harold N. Wal­ters — Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville, in the only Cana­dian prov­ince with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at gh­wal­

“Harry, my dis­con­cert­ing love,” said Dear­est Duck, “you’ll soon be too creepy to live with.”

B’ys, can you imag­ine Dear­est Duck, the favourite vol­ume in my book­shelf, say­ing such a thing to me?

“Why, my Duck?” said I, “Just be­cause in nine­teen-eighty-nine I fin­ished read­ing a book in Pet­ley?”

“Not so much that you fin­ished a book in Pet­ley, but why you re­mem­ber it to­day.” There’s a tale to tell, eh b’ys? Yet, said tale re­quires backpedalling. With more fre­quency than is com­fort­able, since this new century has be­gun in­ex­pli­ca­ble sin­gu­lar­i­ties have been hap­pen­ing to me.

For in­stance: All alone in the house I was play­ing ‘puter, plug­ging away at the key­board, deliri­ously happy that the words were flow­ing, when … for no ex­pli­ca­ble rea­son a penny fell from thin air and conked me on the nog­gin. Truly. Later that same day, I heard for the first time that The Govern­ment, in its in­fi­nite wis­dom, in­tended to cur­tail cop­pers.

“That’s creepy,” said Dear­est Duck when I told her.

An­other time: It was Au­gust. I was tak­ing a con­sti­tu­tional dodge on a back road near our house, won­der­ing about what I might scrib­ble as a Christ­mas story for Down­home mag­a­zine.

I rounded a turn and spotted a patch of red some­thing-or-other tan­gled in some shrub­bery a dozen dicky-strad­dles up the road.

When I reached the spot my heart seized, my knees buck­led, and only the booga-stick I was us­ing as a cane pre­vented me from fall­ing face first in the gravel. Santa Claus was snarled up in the bushes. Lies for me. It wasn’t re­ally Santa Claus, but a stuffed toy Santa all decked out for Christ­mas in a blood red Santa suit, soot-black boots, a buck­led black belt the width of a gir­dle, and a pull-chord invit­ing me to give a tug for a Christ­mas greet­ing.

“That’s creepy,” said Dear­est Duck when I told her.

And so on, and so on… On March 29, 1989 — 1989 for frig sake! — a Satur­day when I was 41 years old, I fin­ished read­ing a book at Mammy’s house in Pet­ley, Ran­dom Is­land, the site of king-granted Wal­ters’ home­land.

An aside: You might think me weird, but ever since Noah built his boat when I fin­ish read­ing a book I ini­tial the page cor­re­spond­ing to my age at the time — kinda like those folk who spray graf­fiti on cliffs, I s’pose. Some­times I note the time of day, the date, the set­ting, even the colour of the sky.

No doubt that’s what I did one Satur­day morn­ing in March, 1989.

“That’s bizarre,” said Dear­est Duck when she’d first learned about my — in her en­dear­ing terms — id­iot-syn­crasy.

Of­ten when I’m done with books, I re­lease them into the wild via used book stores, rum­mage sales and such. Al­though I don’t set free ev­ery book, fancy the num­ber I have re­leased since loan­ing out the copy of Huck­le­berry Finn I once found in a bar­rel among aban­doned pairs of leather boots in 19 … nev­er­mind. More than a hun­dred, I ‘low, eh b’ys? Books and boots aside, I’m still on track. Re­cently, I was with Dear­est Duck and two of our grand­daugh­ters, at the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion Square in the land where buf­falo roam. Dear­est Duck was re­turn­ing a cou­ple of dresses she’d de­cided weren’t suit­able for sum­mer wed­dings.

“It would help,” said Dear­est Duck, “if you’d take the girls for a Slurpee.”

Ten min­utes later, trail­ing a pair of slurp­ing lit­tle girls, I spotted the ta­bles of a Used Books sale.

While the young­sters slurped some green con­coc­tion re­sem­bling mo­tor coolant, I picked over the books and ended up with half-a-dozen jammed in a Do­min­ion bag, and girls in tow, went in search of Dear­est Duck.

Back at home, I selected a hard-cov­ered novel from the Do­min­ion shop­ping bag and com­menced read­ing — The Dancing Chicken, by Su­san Musgrave.

When I reached page 41 my heart seized ex­actly as it had some years ago when I en­coun­tered Santa Claus snarled up in a spi­der web of alders.

This is what I read along with my ini­tials on page 41 of The Dancing Chicken: Pet­ley 25/3/89 Satur­day 7:32 AM Over­cast. Truly. “Harry,” said Dear­est Duck when I told her, “you’ll soon be too creepy to live with.”

Postscript: By the way, I brought stuffed Santa home, but I’ve not yet pulled his chord for fear he’ll say, “Ho-Ho-Ho, Merry Christ­mas, Harry.”

Thank you for read­ing.

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