The light is always ready to turn green...
|“Where does one begin a tale when at the end of the rope? Times are always in flux and today is no exception; unemployment skyrocketing in a morbid danse macabre with recession. Will I get lucky and draw an ace this week. Will the landlord hold off giving me the boot until I pull my wages? So nice to have one less thing to worry about when you are knee deep in debt.”
Arlo has sore eyes from staring down a computer screen all day in search of work. Cheaper than mailing hundreds of paper resumes like the bad old days…or maybe they were better old days Arlo wondered. He opens an email from New Life Inc. and the computer screen abruptly turns black.
“Great, some stinking virus or worm. Guess I’m done looking for work until I deal with this.”
Arlo stands up and backs away from the computer; turns around and lets out a “Yikes”, almost falling into an abyss. Pulling himself upright and taking a look backward he is no longer in the workroom of his apartment in Columbus, Ohio. A quick look at the terrain tells him he is high up in the mountains somewhere; rugged mountains.
“Must have been a real bad worm to pull me out of time and space. I guess I could use a break because I’m not getting anywhere with job hunting, might as well enjoy this illusion while it lasts.”
Not far from Arlo was a trailhead with a sign and the word “Newbie” burned into the wood, very rustic. Arlo was somewhat convinced he was stressing out and having a walking dream, or stress delusion, or whatever and decided impromptu like to just enjoy the setting and get some needed relaxation. No point in freaking out. It was a nice sunny day, comfortable climate and no appointments to worry about.
“Guess I’ll take a spin down Newbie Trail and see the sights.”
Arlo shrugged off the shock of losing his temporal problems and found comfort in the majestic grandeur of the alpine surroundings. With nowhere to be he shuffled down Newbie trail. The trail led downhill, a narrow footpath, not well used and weeds everywhere.
“All in all, not a bad day so far.” said Arlo to the world.
So for the next few hours Arlo was treated to a nature walk complete with alpine scenery, deer, bear, eagles, rabbits, and a thorn bush to rip his pants here and there. The day wore thin but a few hours before sunset Arlo came to a grassy clearing alongside the trail. If not for the presence of an old geezer sitting by a campfire Arlo would have kept going. But this was the first sight of mankind since he had arrived and Arlo’s city instincts were telling him that night was coming and he was in need of a little help.
“Hello there!” Arlo said as he turned off the trail and approached the old man.
“Howdy, name’s Ezra. Ezra Turnbuckle. And who might you be?” said the old man.
“Sorry, name’s Arlo. Arlo Steven Smart.” said Arlo.
“Helluva name to put down initials for.” said Ezra.
“I left out my middle name after a enough fights over the issue back in grade school.” said Arlo. “So what are you doing out here Ezra? I see your busy writing something in that notebook, are you a naturalist?”
Ezra replied “I was waiting for you to arrive Arlo, and in this book are the next steps which you will need to arrive at the end of your search.”
“That’s a heavy load Ezra, are you a prophet? How could you know me or that I was coming here when I don’t even know where I’m at or how I got here? What do you mean my search? I was looking for a job on my computer, opened up an email and the next second I’m up in the hills somewhere. By the way, where is here anyway?”
Ezra said “We are on the threshold of a desire; your desire to be somewhere other than in your life.”
“Heavy-duty philosophy Ezra, are you a philosopher?” Arlo asked.
“No Arlo, I am simply a small part of your destiny.” said Ezra.
With all the introductory small talk over and done with Arlo decided to ask “Mind telling me what your writing about in that notebook?”
Ezra said “It’s a story, but I’m afraid I won’t get a chance to finish it.”
“Why not?” asked Arlo.”
“Well, it’s a bit hard to explain…but here, you sit down here and read a little while and see what you think.”
So Arlo walked around the fire and pulled up a log next to Ezra, took the notebook, and looked around the clearing which was now dark, then up at the stars above.
“Beautiful night to be up in the mountains sitting around a campfire.” said Arlo.
“Sure is.” Ezra agreed.
So Arlo started to read the story which Ezra had been writing and before long he was consumed with the passion of adventure in the tale. He lost track of time and his surroundings so that when he finished he did not immediately notice that Ezra had left him and he was alone, sitting at his desk at home. Arlo jumped up from the chair and away from the desk looking around for any sign of Ezra, the campsite, the stars, or Newbie trail.
“Criminy, I must be losing it. First I get shot out of here into some mountain range, meet an old guy writing a story, then I’m thrown right back where I started. Wait a minute, the notebook…”
Arlo walks back to the desk and picks up the notebook, still smelling with the sequoias that surrounded the clearing where Ezra was writing.
“Well, this wasn’t here when I left. The first time I’ve laid eyes on this notebook was in Ezra’s hands. Damn what a story too. I wonder where he went? I wonder…”
Arlo rounded up some food and drink then sat back down at the desk. As he looked at the cover of the book he noticed the name Ezra Turnbuckle scrawled in ink.
Arlo said “Well he must have been real, somewhere, sometime. Shame he didn’t get to finish it. Maybe…”
Arlo pondered awhile as he ate and thought a bit more. Then he came to a very important decision “I’ll just write the ending myself. Yeah, why not?”
So Arlo Steven Smart began to write as he had never written before and when the sun came up he had finished the story. He wrote the name Ezra Turnbuckle at the end of the story. He was quite happy with the story even though he had to finish it himself.
“Just like life in a way.” he said when he thought about all the half-finished stories in people’s lives that needed an ending; what the hell, why not a happy ending?
After showing the story to a few friends and acquaintances and being urged to submit the story for print Arlo sent copies to several writing contests. He put the original in a safe place for a memory. But Arlo was not allowed to wallow in uncertainty for the story won three generous prizes which paid for the next three months rent. Having enjoyed one story he decided to tackle another – all by himself. Well Arlo never looked back and forty years down the road he made quite a success out of writing stories. He used the nom de guerre Ezra Turnbuckle for all of his published works and hoped that he would someday meet Ezra and share his good fortune with him. Needing a break from the city he decided one weekend to take a walk in the mountains which reminded him of his new beginning years ago. He took a short-trek pack and found a quiet clearing next to the trail, perfect for relaxing and maybe a little writing. He got a small fire going for later when the sun when down for he’d decided to spend the night. A soft tree trunk made a comfortable seat for the old writer and he soon had his notebook out and began to write.
Not long after he began working on his latest story a young man came down the trail walked over and said “Hello there!.."