by Terry Hargrove
As 2010 draws to its dark and inevitable end, I would like to take this opportunity to say farewell to all my friends and readers at Scholars and Rogues. It was a great run, far better than I ever deserved, but it’s over now. I cannot fight the Ouija board.
Let me explain. I have mentioned in earlier posts the great, traumatic event of my childhood. In 1965, my two older sisters came into possession of a Ouija board. They asked various girly questions such as who liked who, who really liked who, who would marry first, and who would be the first to have children, then moved to more worldly matters. It predicted that a movie star would one day be president, the collapse of the Soviet Union, how a television station would one day rule the country. You know, ridiculous crap. I scoffed and guffawed. So, to quell my laughter, they asked the board “How old will Terry be when he dies?”
The board replied “55.”
“You made it say that,” I jeered. “What year will I die?”
The board replied “2010.”
I ran to get paper and pencil, and added 55 to the year of my birth, 1955, and got…OK, I must have added wrong, so I erased that problem and added 55 to 1955, carried the 1 and got…
Damn. You see, the recessive math gene runs deep in the Hargrove family, so I didn’t think my sisters could perform such a complex calculation in their heads. Maybe the Ouija board was right? But what did it matter. 2010 was 45 years away.
I turned 55 on July 10. I have been waiting for my prophesied release from this earth ever since. Now there are only 10 days left, and I have dared to believe that the Ouija board might have erred. You see, knowing that I was going to check out in 2010 made life easy. I never backed away from dangerous activities, like smoking, eating fast food, and betting on the Red Sox, because I assumed I was safe until 2010.
Now I have 10 days left. I called my spiritual advisor, the Right Reverend T. Brown to discuss this with him, but he wasn’t home, so I had an enlightening conversation with his mother-in-law.
“I’m thinking that maybe, I can find an old gypsy woman, save her from being run over by a train, and she’ll reverse the curse. That’s a good plan, isn’t it?” I asked.
“Um, I don’t think you’re being at all logical about this,” she said.
“Logic broke down for me a long time ago,” I replied. “The funny thing is, my sisters don’t even remember that day. Is it possible I dreamed it all? Strange that I should remember a dream after all these years.”
“I wouldn’t worry about all this,” she said. “It’s a very common fear. Did you know that Theodore Roosevelt was convinced he would die at the age of 60? He told his college roommate before they graduated. It’s possible that he never would have made his famous charge up San Juan Hill, if he didn’t think he would survive it.”
“That makes me feel a little better,” I replied. “How old was he when he finally did die?”
“Well, I just so happen to have a book about him right here,” she said. “And according to this he…oh my. He died at age 60.”
I hung up the phone. Coincidence? Maybe, but the world is full of such things, and I have this horrible feeling that I am due for one. Lately, I’ve begun to suspect that I’ll never be successful as a writer, because I’m too much like a fictional character. I’m the kind of person writers write about. Maybe I escaped from a hyper-dimensional fiction world, and have been on the run for 55 years. But now the mega-author’s writer’s block has ended, he sees what I’ve been up to, and he wants to put me back into that never-to-be-read book where I belong.
For much of our marriage, Nancy has amused herself at my fear that I would die at age 55, but lately, things have happened that have left her rattled. We’ve had too many close calls on the road with deer and pigs and bicycles. Yesterday, the light fixture above my head blew out. The bulbs shattered into pieces, leaving the bases still in the sockets.
“I’m going to have to dig those bulb bases out,” I said. “Hand me those rusty pliers, the ones that are all metal.”
“You are not going to do any such thing,” she said. “Not when there are only 11 days left in 2010. You can fix it on New Year’s Day.”
I suppose it’s possible that I’ll survive until 2011. If I do, then I’ll consider next year to be the beginning of a Golden Age, a time I never expected to see. It will be a time of miracles, a day of hope, a blessed moment when all things are possible. I’ll get a job, move back to the south, get an agent, publish a second book, the Cubs will win the World Series.
Yeah, like that’ll happen. Now excuse me, but I have to find a train track and an old gypsy woman. If I’m still among the living, I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.
I now have something less than 251 hours and 55 minutes remaining. I hope I make to to Christmas. I’m getting lots of good stuff for Christmas.