His letter (OK, sure, in this day and age it was an email) asked if I was the person he was looking for. But how am I to know? After all, the answer to a question like that depends so much on who or what one is hoping to find.
All the same, I said that I was. And I have not heard back from him since, giving me plenty of opportunity to wonder what he was (really and truly) after in the first place. So, I decided to make a list of the possibilities, as a sort of project... and because that is the sort of person that I am.
I think it might be most telling that the word 'nostalgia' took quite the while to make it onto this list. Sure, it was the first thing that came to mind. But I was (as always) more concerned with why there was a need for nostalgia in the first place and why that need (that pressing desire, as it were) arose in a way that could no longer be ignored (or denied any further, if you prefer) at this particular junction in time.
You see, it is easy for me to see my friend (though, calling him such is sort of odd, since I didn't remember his name and I might actually be imagining someone else) hunched over a steamer trunk, looking at mementos from their youth. After all, it's something I might do... if I had a steamer trunk... or more than a pocketful of mementos (quite literally) from my youth. So really (and far more accurately), this is something I can image happening at the start of a movie, as a preamble to a book, or near the beginning of a bizarrely long (and at times, nearly incoherent) rant.
Suffice to say, for me, the question is not answered by a flippant murmuring of 'nostalgia', because, as I have said, after forty odd years, the real question is why now? What is the incident that brought on the nostalgia.
So once again (and from the start, for I am nothing if not redundant), I can see quite clearly (and with the further qualification that this entire rant is one long flight of fancy, not to be taken seriously, as on the whole, it is nothing more than a writing exercise, done in lieu of some larger economically viable writing project, such as a short story, a book, or a double bound governmental report, submitted in triplicate; thus, with the short form qualifications out of the way, I will reiterate, which is to say, I shall repeat once again only utilizing more flowery language, that it is easy for me to see) my friend, hunched over in his attic (and here, let me just say, that I believe it was a different friend, who spent his youth hunched over in an attic, playing with war toys), as he rummaged through the remembrances of his youth.
Um... hopefully, that's the worst sentence of the lot... but it probably won't be.
Anyway, my best guess is that my friend (previous friend, childhood friend; so clearly, friend for life, even if we haven't talked in forty-odd years) felt a loss: the loss of a wife (from death, divorce, or cancer), the loss of a child (going off to college, most likely, as it is that time of year), or the loss of himself (that middle-age crisis thing, the death of a parent, or maybe what was related, which is to say, the good doctor was sad to report, news concerning his own imminent mortality).
Can you see the scene at the start of a movie, morning light (or is it evening; and if so, clearly there is a glass of whiskey somewhere nearby), as dust is brushed off of a chest, filling the air... which (let us face it) in real life would more likely be mold.
But that's the start to a boring sort of movie, a predictable sort of movie.
I mean (if the truth be told), when discussing this game with an acquaintance their first response was, 'Don't you think it's just nostalgia?' And my response (this being the sort of guy that I am, as I may have just mentioned) was 'What planet are you from?'
Simple answers will not do!
Nostalgia! As if!
Indeed, it was the quest for ever more complex (and thus, ever more entertaining) answers, which discouraged me from checking my email as soon as I might have otherwise (and thankfully, when I was forced to check my email sooner than I would have otherwise liked, there were no further communications from my childhood friend, awaiting me), so my musings might continue for yet another day or two, coming to full fruition, as I explored all possibilities, however bizarre... before an email arrives and dampens thoughts of what could be, by knowledge of what is.
So, er, um...
Have I explained the game adequately?
Have I given you enough of an introduction, so that you may play along?
And much more importantly, can you taste the allure of The Void as you stare into The Dark Beyond?
If so (and even if not), I think it is High Time we began.
Limited Liability Partnership
Have I mentioned we went to camp together? Well, we did. That is the childhood connection. A camp that went under, closed its doors, and (and here I am completely guessing) underwent a complete transformation (call it a makeover) into something else. Anyhow, after these many long years, that something else has reached the end of its time. And the property is up for sale, again. And my friend is trying to organize enough of the old timers (whoever and wherever they might be) to buy the property and revert it to its former glory... a statement which should not be read to imply that said camp ever had any glory, but I was a kid; and back in the day, I did, indeed, see the world through rose colored glasses.
Oh. And, I hope it goes without saying that if he's not doing this (founding the Glory Days of Youth, LLP), maybe I should... I said, knowing I won't, as I am not exactly (so clearly, I am not) a man of action.
Dark Ops Reunion
In times past, when I have mention my time in The Dark Ops others have mentioned the concept of Stolen Valour, so let me just say it is a game, a bit of pretend, these ramblings are not to be taken seriously... which is, of course, exactly what I would say even if they were.
Anyhow, the camp was a Para Military Camp. We rose to Revelry, went to sleep to Taps, and I can still hear the Call to Assembly, ringing in my ears.
Waiters! Waiters!Or actually, I do not know what that one was called, as I think Assembly went more like:
Come and get your dirty trays.
Come and get your food.
There's a soldier in the grassSo many years have gone by, but the rhymes still stay with me. As do the... um... other skills.
With a bullet in his arse
Take it out! Take it out!
Like a good Boy Scout.
I learned to hide in the woods. I learned to sneak up unawares on my adversaries. And much more importantly, I learned how to put a bullet through a hole the size of eraser (or in point of fact, another bullet hole) at fifty feet on a routine basis. So, even if my shooting career was short (or extended through a young adulthood I can no longer remember), at one time, I was a Championship Sharpshooter.
In a nutshell, this camp, which I am told existed in reality, was (and therefore; is) about the best training a Future Military Sniper could ever hope to have.
Obviously, after that short stint as a Sniper, I went on to Intel (story-time being an obvious mental echo of this: as in, these musings and Psychic Intel are cross-linked activities) prior to having my mind cleansed clean (and fully drip dried) upon mustering out.
Nobody takes me seriously when I say such things. You're not supposed to, here, either. But if it were true (and not obviously some little pretend play-time joke), it would explain so much... of which going to a Para Military Camp in my youth is just the tip of the iceberg.
Anyhow, this friend of mine is (likely; oh, so very likely), starting to get The Dreams; and thus, is going back to The Source... a term, which I shall use in a completely inappropriate manner at this junction, because I think it sounds cool... but if you recognize that the phrase doesn't quite fit... well, then, huh... maybe that's something, too.
Ironically (and as odd as it might sound), this very moment is the first time I've ever considered that my discharge was ever Less than Honourable. But then, that too might tie into the current... um, Realm of Possibilities... clearly, not to be confused with The Imagine Nation.
But in All Reality, I'm just having fun with words, now.
So, perhaps it is time to move along.
A Business Deal... I Can't Refuse
So... er... um... like... I may have mentioned that I'm a Crack Shot of loose moral standards; hence, the Less than Honourable, so... er, um... maybe he's got a job for me that resides at the intersection of these two distinct skill sets... you know, as a Hit Man.
Also, before going any further, I probably should say that I'm not so stupid as to advertise for such a position on the Internet (after all, everyone knows you use the Dark Net for that); and as such, such a statement is a clear indication I am far off in Story Book Land. Besides, I don't think he (or anyone else, for that matter) could afford my rates, as they are truly... wait for it... Out of This World.
See, word play! I'm all over it, like ants in your pants.
A Mad Crush
Clearly, I had a crush on this guy and I'd thought I'd gotten it out of my system. But just look at the way I am going on in this rant. So obviously, I have not. Or maybe, he had the crush on me... and seeing my old photo (along with everything else), stirred up long suppressed feelings. Or maybe (just maybe), he was looking through his stuff from childhood, showing it off to his wife (hey, maybe he's a newly wed, got himself some sweet young thing) and she sees my pic and it's love at first sight.
'So, you two were friends?'But, you know (just know), she's looking for a little of that three-way action... minus the one, if you know what I mean... um, er... which is exactly what I am looking for: a lot of that three-way action minus the one with my one and only true love, who will likely be the only other human being to ever read this rant; and so, let me just say in my defence, it is not my fault that I am so darn good looking. If (after all the years) he (still) has a crush on me (so very-very likely), I'll try to let him down easy. And besides, it's so much more likely he's looking for a sperm donor, artificial or otherwise, if you know what I mean.
'As I remember, he was a bit of a jerk, totally full of himself, and more than a little crazy: the stories he would tell.'
'I think I might enjoy hearing him tell some of those stories. Have you ever thought of looking him up?'
'Oh, I don't know? Nostalgia? Old time's sake?'
'Ouch! Hey, darling! I thought we agreed, no hitting.'
'Fine! Whatever! I hereby retract any and all offers of any Hot & Heavy Three Way...
'Ouch! Or Two Way Action...
'Ouch! With anyone else but my one true love for ever and ever and ever.'
'Can I come back inside, now?'
'The mosquitoes are pretty bad out here, tonight.'
We're Looking for a Few Good Men
He's starting a cult (or if not, I'd be happy to do it for him) and he's looking for a few good men (or women, but I'm pretty sure he knows I'm a dude).
Of course, one person's cult is another person's well established mainstream religion. But that's just semantics. More pertinent being that a quick perusal of my site would inform anyone that, yes, indeed, my soul is in dire need of saving. But if you think you've got what it takes to go against a complete Capitalist Sell Out™, you're either delusional (come on, we all know it, isn't it time you admitted the reality of the situation to yourself), you have (on your side and backing you up) the power of the One True God™ (good luck with that, because I'm pretty sure his name is Dollar), or... maybe... just maybe...
Yeah, that's right. Maybe (just maybe) he's fallen in with the wrong crowd (that multi-level marketing crowd, don't you know) and he's looking to recruit me into his network. And if so, well, maybe we should grab some coffee and talk Down Stream Potential.
But you know what? Before we talk new business, we have old business to settle, buddy, old boy, old pal.
We were ten or eleven years old when last we met; and as I remember it (so maybe, I do not remember it all that accurately), we had formed a sort of last man standing, He Man Woman Haters Club™ (so, call it a Tontine), in which the last person to get married (or the last guy to remain an ultra-cool bachelor type dude in the tradition of James Bond) would get the cabin's joint pool of (so, like, a dozen of us lived together in a cabin for the season -- rather than as sissy-boys, camping out in the middle of the woods with nothing more than a moldy tarp over our heads to keep us dry and a three inch folding pocket knife with which to catch our dinner, we lived in a cabin and had our meals catered -- as we grew together over the course of the summer... into men, fighting the common enemy of drunken counselors, overly amorous bed bugs, chronic malnutrition, and institutionalized boredom by way of compulsory sing-songs held around a smouldering campfire, which stretched into the wee hours of the night; but much more importantly, at the end of it all, we decided to pool our) red-line Hot WheelsTrue TM in a winner take all, last man to stay single gets a choice lot collection of rare toy cars!
Not only are we talking about Genuine Hot Wheel Toy Racers™!
But the lyrical prose comes to you straight from the Mind of a Madman.
Anyhow, he's getting married, now.
And, no! He never really liked me (certainly not after that Mad Crush entry: please see above), so coming to the wedding (and/or the Honeymoon, 'Yowza!') is completely out of the question, but the cars are mine, which over the course of the intervening years, he's lost, so would I take a check for $47.29 (their estimated value) in lieu.
To which (the preceding being more than a wee-bit complicated), I said 'What?'
'I thought we were having a text exchange,' he pointed out rather rudely, in a pathetic attempt to call me out on my lackadaisical approach to the narrative format. 'You can't go changing communication channels in the middle of a story.'
So, I said, 'Fine! Whatever!' because, you know, like, fine, whatever, let's get down to what's important then, shall we? 'I want the cars!'
Causing him to say, 'I knew you were going to be a jerk about this.'
While in the background, his fiance (a dear, sweet, slut of a woman) was saying, 'Why don't you just invite him. Make him your best man. Think of the toast.'
To which he said... well, I don't know because that's when I hung up on the bas----... er, I mean, lost contact with, yet another, long lost acquaintance from my youth.
Clearly, a Tontine is the most reasonable bit of unfinished business out there, but there are other scenarios that may (or may not; seriously, my memory is none too great, a complete mental wipe upon mustering out of The Dark Ops will do that, you know) have been left unresolved between us.
- He thinks I stole something from long ago (say a Hot Wheel™); and he wants it back.
- First, that Hot Wheel™ is mine
- Always was!
- Always always will be!
- Second, we formed a He Man Woman Haters Tontine! And even if it didn't start out that way, that Hot Wheel™ is mine, now: fair and square.
- He thinks I still owe him dessert.
- First, this might make more sense if one realizes that Summer Camp & Federal Prison have many things in common; and that as Summer Camp is to The Federal Penitentiary System, Desserts are to Cigarettes.
- Fine, buy me a nice steak dinner and I'll spring for dessert. You still like Almond Joys™?
- He thinks I cheated at that last game of tennis, chess, checkers, or... whatever. Seriously, after all these years it's hard to remember. I mean, I was so much better than him at... well, everything.
- Fine! Whatever!
- What are we up to, now? Best 51 out of 101?
- He found a pair of my old underwear (see, I told you he had a crush) and wants to know if I want them back.
- Ew! No!
- Once again, to truly understand, before going to camp, all of our mothers would sew ID tags into our clothing (or just write it in with a felt tip marker), something that kids in the Free World (please see the jail reference above) never had to endure... and never quite understood.
To say the least, my non-camp going friends thought it was weird... and indicative of a mental psychosis.
- My, but were they not the perceptive ones.
- To say the least, my non-camp going friends thought it was weird... and indicative of a mental psychosis.
'Oh! My! God! You are so egotistical! I hadn't even thought about you in forty years! And to be perfectly honest, I would have been quite happy to never think about you again!'But, you know, after going through the trunk, looking at all those memories, he was still searching for that one last elusive piece to the puzzle.
Yeah, doing a stint in The Dark Ops (or more accurately, having your memory wiped upon retirement) will do that to you.
So, he was just calling to ask a few questions, as a bit of reconnaissance, to get that all important Intel.
- Do I remember how that camp story, rhyme, or joke went?
- Yes, but of course. So, are we talking a Steak Dinner?
- Or are you ready to put your sexual mores to the test?
- Fine! Fine! Whatever! No need to blackmail me with that little... er, um, erroneous lie that never did happen and you swore you never would tell.
- The Hodag
- A frightful creature worse than a shark, who ate first year campers foolish enough to wander around the shores of The Lake, after dark.
- Red Moley
- A communist sympathizer, who most closely resembled a drunken counselor returning from a bar late at night... and the principle reason why The Legend of the Hodag was invented in the first place
- The Ghost of Some Nearby Street Lane
- Yeah, that's right campers. Leave your bunk after Taps and You Will Die!
- Mumbley Peg
- A knife throwing game of skill in which the object is to dull your blade and ruin your knife so as to require the purchasing of another Camp Krud™ from the Camp Store™ as soon as possible by throwing the blade into the ground in a variety of unnecessary and implausible ways.
- A barefoot knife game popular with the older children, who prefered to play it with the younger children, in which the object of said 'game' was to draw blood in as slow and as roundabout manner as possible.
- Eat Bite
- A song popular with the older children, many of whom, despite failing grades in school, could recite this very long song all the way through to the bitter end.
- To my surprise (considering the lyrics and all), this turned out to be a popular (enough, given the target demographics of ten year old children) radio song of the time.
- Camp Stew
- Yeah. Sure. It tasted great at the time. But sawdust has a certain appeal when nothing else is readily available.
- Anyhow, to prepare properly, add one can each of Dinty Moore Beef Stew™ (brand names matter, boy), Spam™ (there's a reason it owns the market), and corn (any old brand will do).
- Open cans, pour into pot, adding one can of water for each younger camper present.
- Sissy Boys may want to build a fire and heat said concoction prior to serving. Older Boys get while the getting is good and start spooning from the pot right away... in sample size portions.
- Bug Juice
- The cool name for Kool-Aid™.
- Of course, Kool-Aid™ would have cost too much, so I don't think I ever tasted this mythical drink, whilst attending camp.
- Some boys (presumably, on a dare) would drink milk with their flavoured water. But I think this was mostly to gross out the others... and as a way of securing that all important protein.
- And yes, there is a reason it is called Bug Juice.
- And yes, it has everything to do with the dead bugs floating on top.
- I love you, too, mom.
Class Action Lawsuit
Where to start? Suffice to say, it's no wonder the place went out of business. And if it hadn't, I'm sure the lawsuits would have soon done the trick.
Actually, I'm kidding. I loved the place.
'You too good for bugs in your water? You'll learn. Now, stand still while I throw knives at your feet. We're playing for little toesies, right?'Camp was the type of place that turned you into a man... the kind of man that joined The Dark Ops... and inhaled too much Pixie Dust while Working Recon with the Elves beyond The Realms.
But then again (and on second thought), as those Elves are kind of psychotic (far worse than counselors; please do not believe word one about the white washed version of Elves you find so often in your more popular speculative fiction), it's far safer to blame any future failures in life on that dear beloved camp of your youth.
Besides, the place has long since gone belly up.
Death of the Director
I am not a Hero Worshipping type of guy. Perhaps, I've spent too much time with the Elves. Maybe, I've not spent enough time with the Elves. And maybe it doesn't flow cognitively all that well, but let's just say, if you've got any spare Pixie Dust, cough it up. And then, maybe explain how it is possible to have any spare Pixie Dust.
Anyhow, I was talking of the Camp Director: a great guy. And, I do not think I can come up with another Hero from my youth.
He was my Hero.
He is my Hero.
And I'm pretty sure he lost his trigger finger by pointing at the wrong Elvin Lass in a suggestive manner... or in some similarly stupid fashion.
Actually, I know the true story and it's complete stupidity... brought about as only alchohol can bring about such stupid acts of sheer stupidity.
'I was being stupid... and, um, a bottle of whiskey might have been involved.'Anyway, he's probably dead... or nearly so. And I say we sue him, his estate, or his closest kin (which at this point, is likely as not to be my friend from so long ago) for everything that no good, so and so, Camp Director is worth for spreading the lie that we could all grow up to be GI Joe™.
Oh, I know what you are thinking: Dark Ops! I lived the life.
Oh, did I?
Then, prove it!
I got you there!
So, you know as well as I do that lawsuit is a slam dunk... but, um, speaking of slam dunks, of the games that I am willing to revisit (you know, with my long lost friend, to whom this rant is dedicated in as straightforward manner as I am capable), well, basketball is not one of those games about which I will be accepting any challenges.
'Has it been fifty years since camp?'But then, you can never start planning that Fifty Year Reunion too soon. And one of the things we said in those letters was that we would look each other up when we were fifty... or in fifty years... or something like that... or at least, it's conceivable that we said something like that... or that somebody else would have said something like that.
So, isn't it about time we touched base?
So, yeah. Let's stay focused. And to that end (and if you'll recall), I am listing out all the Wild & Wonderful reasons someone from my past (and Summer Camp in particular) might be contacting me after all of these years... the ridiculous notion of nostalgia being excepted.
Hey! I've burnt a lot of bridges (and I've burnt a lot of friends) in my time (but then, in my defence, isn't that exactly what one expects from a James Bond Double Agent Hot Wheels™ Tontine Winner Type Dude), so maybe so-and-so needs a Character Witness and I'm the best he can come up with... in which case, he's doomed.
But if I were called on to be a Character Witness for him, what would I say?
- 'He always kept his bunk clean.'
- I mean, I don't really remember this. But I do remember they lashed you fifty times (with a wet noodle) if you didn't keep your bunk clean. So, I'm just going to go with the numbers.
- 'He always cleaned his plate.'
- You've seen Oliver Twist, right? Never was I so hungry but at Summer Camp.
- 'Pass the bark, please.'
- He was good at catching younger campers.
- Seems like a safe bet.
- Then, you (or I, but I'm a pretty nice guy, so it was probably you who would) lift up their shirt, place a tennis racket up against their stomach, and go up and down with a comb, hair brush, stick, rock, or whatever else was handy, raising all sorts of nasty welts.
- They had a cool name for this bit of torture: Pink Belly, maybe.
- He could run and hide like nobody's business.
- Please see Pink Belly above. And realize that everyone was younger than someone else. And for those others, there were the counselors, who by definition were incapable of securing better employment; and so, spent their summer sipping bug filled juice, while nursing hangovers.
- It's amazing how many 'games' involved running, hiding, and praying you didn't get caught.
Yeah, that's right. Maybe he wants me to be his kid's God Father, you know, because as he remembers it, back when I was ten, I was pretty good with other children.
Read it over!
This really is one of the better jokes of the lot.
I've had plenty of adventures in my time... and maybe, my friend, is looking for a partner... in crime... or whatever.
And although I'd say he could do worse than me, the truth is I don't see how.
'You're afraid of plants, now?'Listen smarty pants, let me break it down for you.
'I wouldn't say afraid...'
'Fine, get your face right up in there and smell that flower.'
'OK. I can live with afraid.'
- Plants make pollen.
- Pollen causes allergies.
- Some day, the plants with get the formula right.
- And you and everyone you love will die!
- Assuming, of course, some Hodag does not get you first!
'And you want me to just go out and invite a dozen long stem roses into my house? You got another thing coming, darling.'Of course, you haven't really seen Biological Warfare warfare until you've lived with a Hormonally Challenged Elf... in a Non-Tontine Breaking Living Arrangement™, I assure you.
Anyhow, I was talking of adventure (and the evilness of plants), but before I go down that road (the adventure road, as I think I've got that Plants are Evil thing covered), let me talk of something else, yet again.
I've never made a Thank You Page for our dear sweet Camp Director. And for the last few minutes (which, also, by-the-by happens to roughly coincide with how long I can concentrate on just about anything), I've been wondering why.
- It would feel like a betrayal of my father, who really should be my hero.
- The camp went belly up, so it took me years to realize The Director was my hero. After all, he'd promised to guide me from the age of nine to nineteen (or something like that) and he didn't even get past eleven.
- The Director is just one of many Dominant Male Figures (teachers, scout leaders, bosses, burly prison guards with one too many gangland tattoos, etc) in my life; and so, singling him out just because he came first seems unfair, especially since others lasted a lot longer... and/or if you prefer, had more staying power. Yowza!
- But most likely, when it was time to give thanks, when this would have made sense in space and time, I wasn't... er, um... all that I could be.
<an incoherent excerpt best left unread>
See, I can remember walking down a road, a nice road, a modern road, taking The Road Less Travelled. So, follow the metaphor and let it sink in. The transition between High School and College did not go smoothly for me. And a swerve here and a turn there, and I found myself going down a deserted road. It was a nice road, as far as deserted roads go, weeds coming up through the concrete, poured in slabs, overlayment now missing, reduced to brickwork, stone slab, headed to the sky. A bridge! It was definitely a bridge. Don't let the mundanity of the words fool you: sunset coming, birds soaring, was that an eagle, a hawk, a cool breeze, clouds rolling in, doesn't look like a storm, might as well camp on the pavement, that ravine looks sort of hostile, so I followed the bridge as far as it would go, construction ceased, a thousand feet in the air, looking over some valley, abandoned Dwarven works, the Elven Lands below. Clearly, I lie... but as to which parts, the screech of the owl in the night, the silent patter of feet, or the backtracking come morning, finding a better path, one that works its way through... after cavorting with... such inhumanity... and they, seeing none of it in me, considering me their friend... rather than foe... not even fit for food.
<oh, don't look at me like that, I warned you not to read it>
Eh, the aside makes a sense to me.
Does it make a sense to you?
I have travelled far and wide without ever bothering to collect all that many stamps in my passport.
'He might have been one of them, once. But he isn't anymore. Let him pass.'It has been sort of surreal, who has let me pass... where and when... when they would have been so much better off, in the moment, consuming me.
I make no excuses for my luck.
And since that is as close to The Truth as I wish to come, take it for what it is. To some I have made (and thus, for some, I might make) a worthy travel companion.
- The Appalachian Trail has caught my interest, perhaps, too, my friend's.
- They have one in Wales, you know.
- Or the Boundary Waters
- Though I made this trip in my youth, I cannot remember if made this trip with my friend.
- Dark Ops so often leads to Space Ops, so perhaps the proposed trip is to a planet, far-far away.
- Can I bring a travel companion?
- If so, my bags are packed. I could leave today.
- Sometimes I almost believe my own lies!
- I ain't going anywhere!
'The happiest day of my life was when I bought that boat.'Eh, maybe I have the order reversed (and some folks like to replace 'boat' with 'wife'). But either way, I'm not going to Space nor to Sea... for I get Sea Sick... watching TV.
'The second happiest, when I sold it.'
But like I said, I'm handy with a gun, so maybe it is time for my friend to check out: one last trip, one last adventure, maybe fishing, maybe hunting... before that final shot rings out.
No malice on my part, I assure you.
But then, it is the opponent who bars his teeth, who is not worth fearing.
'Oh, I'm sorry. I misunderstood. I thought you intended it to be some sort of man-o man-o,' so what does that mean, it's a zero-to-zero we all lose together, 'fight to the finish, Russian Roulette sort of thing. Because if you're just looking for a simple accident to forgo the pain of cancer, you should have just said so, as there are more than a few, whom I owe... um, favours to... and I'm guessing your soul is ripe for the picking.'Yeah, these flights of fancy are getting seriously out of hand (and a sure sign that I am growing bored). So, let's try to wrangle it in (and bring this all to a close), shall we?
The Apprenticeship Program
He noticed I didn't have any kids.
'So, um, do you want one?'An idea, which (I suppose) doesn't sound any more realistic than the last, until one remembers I spent a decade in The Realms and even in Medieval Earth it was not uncommon to pass a troublesome child off to a friend at puberty.
'Well, he's my kid, so I'd feel bad hitting him. You... feel free to go to town, knock some sense into him. Or, I don't know, all he seems to want to read about these days are Dragons & Dwarves, so take him with you on one of your trips into The Realms.'
'You know I stopped going there.'
'And you know that no one believes that you ever went there in the first place.'
'Ah, come on! What's the world coming to when no believes your random lies?
As in, he's getting likes the hard way.
'You are on Social Media, aren't you?'Um, no. The answer is no.
'Oh, but hey! I do have my own blog! And counting you, I've had two visitors this month!'Hey! Hey! An uptick!
The Book Deal
He wants to use me as a character in a book that he's writing.
So, um, maybe instead, he's writing a compilation history book and he's looking for chapter submissions. If so, this carefully worded rant shall be mine.
But why a book? Why not a Video Documentary? Of course, for the later, I'll need to get a haircut... especially if I'm going to go on TV taking about Dark Ops, The Realms, and Soul Sucking Aliens. I mean, I don't want to come off looking like some weirdo.
He wants to know if I remember the other kids in the cabin? And if so, can I send him a list of their names? Or even better, a list of their email addresses?
Which is to say, he might be looking for a partner in crime for any and/or all of the above; but most definitely, that partner is not me.
'Sorry, if you thought otherwise.'
I grew up in a town called Valhalla Acres or some such nonsense (or no such place, but pretty darn close, actually). And while reading the letters, he noticed the postage address... and, well, let's just say his grip on reality is even more tenuous than mine, so he thinks I'm an Olympian God (or one of that Rowdy Pack from Valhalla) and he wants a boon, considering all the good times we shared growing up.
'So, the standard Three Wishes. What do you say?'Or course, with an entry like that, I'm clearly veering off into left field (you know, because the other ideas have all been so centered). So, let's go with another crazy idea, because at this point, the pickings are getting slim.
Working the Steps
He's joined AA, is working the Twelve Steps, and is now at Step 5, which I believe means paying others back. And, oh, he's, also, a Greek God, which I know, because I saw him naked back in the day (whilst changing into swim trunks). And as such (the one following the next, much like Killer Hangovers in the 'morn if you drink Dwarven Ale at night), it is I, who shall be receiving the Standard Three Wish Deal.
'Just as long as you can refrain from making any further homo-erotic innuendos, which quite frankly are both unwarranted and unwelcome.'
'Two Words: Skinny Dipping.'
'Three Words: It wasn't me.'
'Well, then. Never mind.'
Phishers at Work
Actually, at this point, I assume just about every unsolicited email (that doesn't come from a Gnomic Prince, because those guys wouldn't lie) is a (possible) phishing attack: as in, his kid was looking through that old trunk of his (probably searching for one of those rifles his dad was always talking about), found my letters (along with a photo of yours truly: i.e. me), quite naturally assumed a romantic liaison (I mentioned the photo, right), and is looking for a pair of Loose Lips, whereby to blackmail his father and not spend his summers at an all boys camp, where the days are long, and the nights, longer still.
But not to worry, I have tasted the Nectar of the Gods and My Lips Are Sealed.
Stop It, Dude!
'What? That's clearly a reference to a mountaineering expedition up Mt Olympus, followed by a rugged, manly-manly, rafting trip down the River Sphinx.'Besides, I don't know if I mentioned this all the way back at the beginning, but during Dark Ops Recruitment they make sure you're not carrying around any... um, er... old baggage... that is to say, anything exploitable by enemy agents.
'Do you mean Styx?'
'I don't know, do I?'
'Whatever. I don't care. I called to say, I found your letters. And let me just say, after reading them and talking to you, I can honestly say you haven't changed or matured one iota in the last forty years. Anyway, if you want your old letters...'
'Letters of my love? From me to you?'
'Stop it! And if you have any of my old letters, if you could send them back.'
'So you can burn them and deny our love forever? Never!'
So, long story short (you know, after you've read the long version, sucker), I ain't got no letters.
Though, I do have a lock of silver hair from an Elven Princess (Yowza! the stories I could tell... you know, if I didn't mind dying in a pool of my own blood in some off dimensional ghetto), a shoe buckle from a Dwarven Lord (yeah, tell me about it, Dwarven customs are weird), and post-traumatic stress (call it permanent brain damage) from working as an Interpreter for those Brain Sucking Squids.
Which is all to say:
'Um? So, what was the question? Why are you calling again?'