"Abe," his mother began, "I want you to stop climbing those top branches of your tree."
"Mom, thatís the crowís nest. I had to change the flag. The old one blew away last night," he explained as he filled his cereal bowl.
The morning kitchen aromas of coffee and frying sausages mixed with the summer freshness through the open window. "If a fat crow tried to perch on one of those branches," his mother replied, placing the links on paper toweling, "itíd fall two and a half stories and break its beak off. Besides..., oh, never mind."
"What?" Abe asked.
"Oh, nothing." Abeís mother was not overly protective; otherwise she would never have allowed Abe to wring his nimble body through the web of branches and limbs of his favorite tree, the one behind the house and next to the garage. She just didnít want him to know that the neighbors were talking again. How odd, they gossiped, that a twelve year old boy should spend so much time sitting in the middle of a tree almost three stories from the ground. And talking to himself, no less! Actually the tree itself stood about forty feet from ground to what Abe called the "crowís nest". The juncture of three limbs where he usually sat was three quarters the way up from the ground.
She was neither apathetic nor abusive, defending her children as a she-bear would if necessary. Abe was not a troublemaker or even a rascal; he was just a bit different at times.
Mrs. Jones glanced out the kitchen window towards the top of the tree and shuddered slightly. Itís so tall, she thought, and the branches look so thin. How could I allow my son to...? She knew the answer.
They had first found Abe perched in the chair-like juncture of the tree when heíd barely turned seven. How in the world had he scaled the trunk, a good twelve feet from the lowest limb? His father had quickly run for a ladder and carefully ascended through the maze of limbs and branches to retrieve his son, descending with him over his shoulder in fireman fashion. When asked how heíd managed the feat, he simply shrugged and gazed back up into the living vessel he instinctively knew had become his best friend.
For all anyone knew, he might as well have levitated himself. But restrict him from climbing; tell an eagle not to soar. At least the tree was well in sight of the house. Had it been one of the hundreds in the woods just a short distance farther back, he might have fallen unseen and, well, letís not think about that, she thought. He never did fall, anyway, and that in itself seemed strange, too. He could weave in and out of the myriad of branches, never seeming to look before leaping onto a different bough. He was seen swinging on branches thinner than a fingerís width; and once his father swore heíd missed a branch, and the tree appeared to sway outward to grab him before he plummeted to the ground. Perhaps, though, his fatherís eyes were just tired.
Her reverie was broken as Maggie, Abeís sixteen-year-old sister, danced into the room humming ĎI Feel Prettyí.
"Oh wow, girl! Who beat on you?" Abe exclaimed. "Mom! Somebody took a bat to Maggieís mug. Humm, not a bad improvement."
"Mother!" Maggie loudly objected.
"But, geeze, all you had to do was call me. Iíd have helped you out... in a year or two... or three... or...."
"Mother!" Maggie repeated even more loudly.
"Enough!" their mother ordered, turning her face to her daughter for the first time. Then burst out laughing. "Maggie, what in the world are you made up for?"
Maggie had greatly overdone her makeup, unsuccessfully trying to add a few years to her youth.
"Sheís one the warpath, Mom, and out to scalp Robert," Abe said.
"Brat! For your information Robert is going to paint my portrait," she said smugly.
"With whitewash, I hope," Abe muttered not caring of he was heard.
"Abe, go outside and cut the grass," their mother answered, trying to stifle the on going feud between siblings. "and you go scrape that putty off your face, young lady!" Then, in exasperation added, "Why canít my children get along at the breakfast table?"
"I mowed the lawn yesterday, Mom; and helium brain is chasing after an artist five years older than she is."
"Abraham, leave your sister alone..., wait. Helium brain?
"Yeah, lighter-than-air-head," he laughed and ducked away from Maggieís swinging arm. He sprinted out, letting the backdoor slam, escaping his sisterís rage.
Beside the two car garage (The family only owned one car, using the remaining half for storage) stood his tree -- tall, proud, and fully adorned with her summer green finery. She had a name, Linden, but Abe neither knew nor cared what type of tree she was. Certainly she was not an oak, elm, maple, or hickory; and she was by no means an evergreen of any sort. She was simply "The Tree" or "Abeís Tree". But she was a she. Everyone knows that ships are shes. She was his ship; he was her captain. Captain Abraham J. Jones of the United Star Ship Linden, whether sailing the seven seas or the cosmos.
Abe entered the garage and, seconds later, exited with his twenty-four inch bike in tow. Behind the garage he mounted his fighter jet, saluted the newly raised ensign now fluttering from the finely branched mast, and pushed off across the paved alleyway. This led to a thin, winding, berry bush lined, path downward sloping which he expertly maneuvered, pedaling and coasting one hundred light-years or at least one quarter of a mile. There he braked dismounted, and braced the bicycle against an old, gnarled oak. He calmly gazed about the area making sure no alien enemy probes were spying his activities and ducked beneath a low barricading limb to enter his secret teleportation chamber. He could instantly rematerialize on another world, but he hadnít quite made up his mind as to which world he should attend this time.
There would be new aliens to befriend or battle, but he missed the important one on the home front this time. He missed seeing his father greet the smiling young woman as she drove up to the front of the house, the car door marked with the logo of a real estate firm.
"Brian," she greeted him with a handshake. "I received your call. Iím happy you made up your mind. The new owners will be in town tomorrow morning to sign the papers, and they are quite willing to extend the moving date until your new home is ready for occupancy." All this was spoken in what seemed to be one breath and run-on-sentence.
Peppy, he thought, returning the handshake and smile with somewhat less exuberance.
"Ah," she sighed, shading her eyes with her free hand while gazing up towards Abeís tree partially hidden by the two-and-a-half-story house. "I see your sonís not up in his tree today."
"Ah, no," Mr. Jones replied while shoving his hands into the pockets of his work pant. "Heís out playing in the woods."
"Yes, the woods. That was a big selling point on my... our side. I suppose heís saying good-bye to his little forest friends."
Brian Jones was beginning to dislike this perky twitís condescending attitude toward his son. "He doesnít know weíre moving, yet and we will tell him when we think the time is right, Miss Faber.
"Thatís Ms.," she corrected him.
"Ms. Faber." He really disliked this perky twit. He was also beginning to dislike himself, but it wasnít his fault. Companies transferred employees all the time all over the world. Teachers moved on when a better opportunity comes around. A teaching position at a prestigious university was not something to pass by. Families moved to new homes in new cities with new schools and new environments. New Environments? Thatís a laugh, he thought as he led the woman towards the porch. New environment -- from just outside a small Midwestern town to the center of a West Coast metropolis. A whole new world, and with that thought his mind envisioned his son scaling a crowded jungle gym in a noisy, gang infested, playground, only being able to imagine it as a quiet country tree.
Mrs. Jones emerged through the front door, looking all the model of a stereotype 1950ís housewife except for her very short hair and jeans. With a smile on her face she thought: Lord, if that twit makes one more comment about my name, Iíll scream. What she said was, "Hello, Miss Faber."
"Wonít you come in, Ms. Faber?" and she held the door as the agent entered, her eyes on her husbandís. Neither was smiling now.
"Thank you, Jessie. Jessie Jones, how I love that cute name! Is there anything wrong, Jessie?"
"Ah, no, Ms. Faber, just a little headache," she replied, trying not to vocalize her headache at the top of her lungs.
"Too bad," the Ms. nonchalantly replied. "I just thought Iíd drive out to tell you that the buyers will be in town tomorrow. Weíll meet at my office around, oh, say ten-ish to sign the papers. I wanted to see this quaint, old place just one more time before they remodel it. Isnít it strange how some people can buy a house sight unseen? Oh, what a lovely view from their..., I mean your front window. Iíll bet itís just beautiful during a snowfall. And did you know the house youíre buying is not far from the...."
This woman is really on a roll now, Jessie thought. Doesnít she stop to breathe? Then she exclaimed, "Maggie!"
"Maggie?" the agent asked as she turned to see the girl midway down the staircase. The parents had thought both children long gone on some summer errand. Neither of the children knew about the move, and they had planned to ease them into the idea that evening. "Oh," she continued, non-pulsed by the shock on the faces of the three family members, "you must be your parentsí lovely daughter."
"Mom? Dad?" the young girl queried as she broke her frozen stance. "Moving? Weíre moving?" Her freshly washed face reflected her shock and pain at the news.
"Moving? Oh, yes," the impersonal agent continued. Youíll be moving very soon to...," This time she was cut off my Mr. Jones.
"Thatís Ms," she corrected again.
"Miss Faber, thank you, but I said we will take care of informing our children in our own way and at our own time!"
"Oh, but just think," she ranted on," "of all the new friends youíll meet, a new school, a new house, far away from the cold...,"
"Miss Faber! Will you please stop?"
"Thatís Ms, Brian. And thatís just the beginning," she aimed again towards Maggie, ignoring the tears now flowing down the girlís cheeks. "The weather in California is just lovely. No more cold or snow or...."
"Thatís Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Miss Twit!" Brian now shouted. "And that will be quite enough!" Taking the insensitive woman by the arm, he turned her back through the front door and slammed it against her possible return.
"But..., but..., but, donít be late tomorrow," she called out. "Around ten-ish?" The door muffled most of her final words and the sound of her carís engine starting up and fading away as she drove off the property. Somehow, she did not understand her abrupt ejection or the familyís strange behavior, nor did she care, really.
Brain turned back to see his Ďtwo best girlsí sitting on the staircase landing, holding each other. "Honey," he began softly, "we were going to break it to you and Abe after supper tonight." He said softly.
"This is all my fault, dear," her mother cooed sympathetically. "I thought you had washed and left already for Robertís studio," she said.
"Itís okay, Mom," Maggie whimpered. "Abeís right. Robert doesnít really know Iím alive. Iím alright; Iím just worried."
ĎAbout what, Honey? Moving to a new city and all? Donít let what that woman said bother you. Sure, itíll be tough at first...," the fatherís speech was cut off.
"No, Dad," the girls answered. "Iím worried about Abe." She knew as did her parents, that for all the sibling bickering and teasing, Maggie and Abe were the best of friends. They held a mutual love and respect for each other that went beyond breakfast table jibing and surfaced whenever one or the other needed support. Of course neither would ever admit this to anyone else. "Mom," Maggie said calmly, unraveling her arms from her motherís waist, "I think I should tell him. Heís probably down in the woods picking up trash." She stood now, her tears abated.
Both parents looked at their daughter aware that maturity rises in stages, and one of these stages had just arisen in Maggie. "Mind if I tag along?" her father asked.
"Sure, Dad. He always goes into the woods by that old oak tree. The little klutz pretends itís a secret, but he never bothers to hide is bike.
"Maggie," her father began, "are you sure you want to do this? Maybe you should go tell your friends. He may take this rather badly."
"Dad, I wouldnít be surprised if he already knows."
"I donít know, but sometimes when he gets out of that tree of his or back from the woods, he seems, well, to know things he shouldnít."
"Yeh, I know what you mean," her mother sighed. "He knew about Dadís little fender bender before I did. He said he saw it from his tree."
"Whoa," Mr. Jones cut in. "That happened in the parking lot at the high school. He canít see into town from there."
"I know, Honey, but he came in for lunch and told me matter-of --factly that youíd backed into someone elseís car. He just knew."
"Ouch," he winced then thought, "He did the same thing when you threw away that text evaluation Iíd worked on for a month," he said to his wife. I know it was an accident, but if he hadnít told me where to look for it, I wouldnít have had time to print out another copy before the meeting. I still wonder how he knew."
"Dad, do you think he already knows about the move?" Maggie asked, worriedly. With that, father and daughter walked through the house, out the back door, and down the berry bush lined path. Mrs. Jones remained sitting on the landing, wondering.
"All right, Mr. Jay," the captain stated. "Report!"
"Aack!" the first officer replied from Captain Jonesís shoulder. His bright blue, white, and black wings fluttered once as his crowned head nodded. The he settled back again. "Aach," he repeated loudly.
"Yes, I see from my portable scanner," the captain thumbed in a new code into his hand computer and recording device, "that the Ecology Looters have been here again." He bent and picked up a broke soda bottle and carefully placed it into the paper grocery bad he carried. "Assign another security detail to the area. We must apprehend these blackhearts before this new planet is ravished. Iíll meet you back on the bridge."
Abraham turned back towards his entry point as the blue jay thrust itself from his captainís shoulder and winged onward, deeper into the woodland.
"Say good-bye," the breeze whispered past his ear, and Abraham froze in shock.
"No! Negative! Never!" he shouted back and hurried his pace to his bicycle. It wasnít the first time heíd heard this omen. It spoke to him through the rustling leaves and creaking, old limbs throughout his forest world. The warning had first imposed itself on a zephyr weeks before; and, for the first time in his illustrious career as a starship captain (He had always been a shipís captain), he ignore a direct order. At least, he tried.
The voice had spoken to him of auto mishaps and high seas pirates, of missing evaluation reports and massive solar flares, of lost earrings on first date nights and kidnapped princesses, but never before of concrete playgrounds and moving vans.
"No," he whispered back at the wind while pedaling on father down the weed-choked path. He took the long way home; the scenic trajectory through the asteroid belt of a country cemetery, behind the green firefalls of the Romulan home world as willow fronds brushed his face, and past the debating Round Table Knights as they cawed at each other with black plumage speckling the telephone lines.
Along the edges of his galaxy, his blue, supra-light speed fighter shot, circling the woodland until the landing zone loomed ahead beside the U.S.S. Linden. The pilot, Captain Abe himself, eased back on the throttle and cease pedaling until the craft slowly came to rest in the large hanger. Abe ascended to the bridge of his tree/ship and sat in his command chair.
"No," he whispered again.
One of the foremost misconceptions of our time, or any time, is that the Galactic Library lies on Celaeno. That, of course, is wrong. Celaeno, as any amateur astronomer with the IQ of a grain of feldspar will tell you, is a star. The superstructure itself consists of an artificially constructed planetoid in the Pleiades cluster. It is an aeon old Ďchunk of computerized rockí which houses every recording media conceived of by a sentient race. Billions of civilizations of billions of worlds could boast that their culturesí philosophies, psychologies, theologies, literatures, histories, arts, and sciences are represented in this multidimensional collection -- if they knew it existed. One of those worlds is called Earth or Terra. Tomes and tapes, holographs and biologically synthesized memory organisms, silicon cultures, and papyrus scrolls all wait to be used by any thinking creature able to attend them. They have been waiting and have been in use since long before Terra first cooled enough to hold atmosphere. Few Terrans, therefore, had ever sought reference here, but one shipís hour after obtaining polar orbit, Capt. A. Jones and his first officer stood waiting assistance of a youngish Denebian scholar interning as a librarian.
"Geeze," Jones whispered to his first officer Mr. Jay, "this guy canít be more than one hundred turns old. Canít they find any mature help around here?"
This time Mr. Jayís Ďaachí translated into, "Iím sure heís competent, sir. There must be some way out of this predicament. You must remain calm and in command.
"Thank you for the vote of confidence, Jay. Weíll see. Here he comes now."
"Ah, gentlemen, what may I do for you?" he lisped, his vacant eyes searching their faces without recognition.
"What? What?" Jones sputtered. "Weíve been standing here for the past two hours while you were supposed to have been looking for legal precedent -- something to help me keep my command! Have you done nothing?"
"Oh, itís you two again." The thin, seven foot tall creature stared with dead-pan eyes. "I thought I told you it would take two hours to research."
Itís been two hours! Jones muttered between clenched teeth.
"Ah, Abe? I have the feeling that he meant two Denebian hours."
"Denebi..., oh rats. I forgot. Two Denebian hours is... one shipís day. My apologies, sir. We will return at the appropriate time."
As they turned to depart, the tall, stick figure stopped them.. "Captain, I believe this will take but take but half that time. If I recall, a similar request was made in the not too distant past -- a century and one score of turns past. The case should still be found in one of the more recent files. I shall precipitate your ship when I locate it.
"Precipitate the ship?"
"I think, Skipper, he means hail."
"Yes, hail your ship. I shall hail your ship when I have uncovered the requested material." With that, the stickman raised one leg, bent backwards at the knee and instantly began to snore.
"Jay," the captain muttered to his first officer, "that guy reminds me of the egret back at home in Willow Pond."
"Sir, that is the egret from back home in Willow Pond."
"Ah, right. Well, letís get back to the ship. Do me a favor and pilot the shuttle; Ií tired and hungry," the captain yawned.
"Sure, Abe, but the android at the door told me that thereís an inn built for travelers here, and the berries are excellent this time of year.
"Is that a Terran year or Denebian year? Okay, Jay. Weíll stay the night and see what tomorrow or the next hour brings."
In the morning, or as close to morning as one can get without a sun, the two officers returned to find the librarian waiting for them.
"Here, sirs, is the material you requested," he said.
"This is it? I mean, I really thought there would be more than a few stone chipped lines," Jones said, disappointed.
"Sir, I have summarized the matter for your convenience. Simply put, ĎForget it, mate. Youíre out."
"Look, son, itís written right here in one of your own languages and in one of your own religious texts."
Abe picked up the old stone tablet, recognized it, scanned to the appropriate line, and read in Hebrew, ĎHonor thy Father and Mother.í
One father and daughter sat upon a yellow, flower print sofa. Their poses resembled two versions of Rodinís Thinker. The mother paced the room wringing her hands as her head and eyes alternately met ceiling and floor. Her thoughts jumped from dust mop to vacuum to her missing son. "My God, itís been...."
Once again, the police detective, sitting near the phone replied, "Mrs. Jones, search teams are scouring the whole area. He will be found. He probably got himself lost in the woods out back."
"And, I keep telling you, officer," Maggie shouted back at him, "my brother couldnít get lost in that woods if he were blindfolded, tied up, and wanted to be lost."
"Miss, he could also have been taken. It is an alternative we have to face. Bad things happen in good places like this," he sadly replied.
"Oh, youíre as discrete as that aerosol head who sold our house," Mr. Jones said without moving.
"Aerosol head?" the detective asked.
"Thatís probably what Abe would call her. Polluting airhead," Maggie explained. "Iím going upstairs." She rose, walked up the staircase, paused at Abeís bedroom door, entered it, and screamed. Three adults immediately materialized behind her as Abe, roused form a light sleep, awoke at the abrupt noise.
"Geeze, Mag, ever think of applying for a job in an Irish castle. Youíd make a great banshee," he said, sitting up in bed, rubbing his eyes. "So, Dad, when are we moving?"
At that moment, the phone rang, and the detective rushed back downstairs. "Mr. Jones," he called. Thereís a Father Denab on the phone for you."
Brian Jones, shaken but relieved, walked back to the lower level to speak with their parish priest and pastor. ĎWhat he hell is going on around here,í he thought but said, "Yes, Father?"
"Brain, is your son at home? I know itís late, but he was just here a little while ago..., in the church. I found him sitting in one of the front pews while I was locking up. He seemed to be talking to himself, or praying. Anyway, when I approached him. He asked me what the fourth commandment really means. I told him to wait while I got a catechism so I could explain it more thoroughly. Actually, I wanted to call you right then, when I turned back to check on him, he was gone. Is he there? Is Abe all right?"
"Yes, Father. Heís in bed. Thank you for calling, Ah, Father, Iíll call in the morning to explain what happened, but everything is fine now. What? He was muttering something about moving?" Brian sighed, tears welling in his eyes. "Iíll talk with you in the morning." With that, he hung up and covered his face with his hands, allowing the tears to burst their dam.
The detective was there and obviously not made of same material as the real estate agent He rested his hand on Brianís shoulder and said, "Thank God, Mr. Jones, I know how you must...,"
Jones turned on him, intending to demand just how he could possible know how he felt at that moment, but stopped. The officer, too, had tears in his eyes. He explained. "Six years ago my son went missing. He didnít turn up in a church or in his bed. We found his beaten body in a ditch. Thatís why we moved to this area. Believe me, Mr. Jones, youíre right. I canít know how you feel."
"Officer, I am so sorry," Brian replied in a quiet voice. "I didnít know."
"Your son is safe. Like I said, Ďthank Godí. Weíll get out of your hair now." He quickly vacated the home. Reports could wait until morning this time. Besides, he decided, he hadnít said a rosary in quite some time. Far too long. Brian barely heard the car door close or its engine as the officer drove away.
One month later, the Jones Family moved to California. Two months after that Abeís tree shed her leaves as she annually did in obedience with her and Abeís commanding officer, everyoneís commanding officer.
She never donned green again.
"Fr. Jones? I hope Iím not bothering you," the petite twenty year old said from the doorway of Fr. Abraham Jonesís university office.
"Bothering me? Come on in Kadin. I have your paper right here. Itís very good, but on page twenty-seven, you didnít mention Thomas Moreís influence on...,"
"Professor, I didnít come for my paper. Is it true that youíre quitting?"
"Oh that. Ah..., no. I am leaving, leaving..., yes..., but I am retiring, not quitting." The ninety year old professor of American literature and theology stammered. "I thought Iíd go back home for a while. I havenít been back to Wisconsin since I was a boy, but Iíve never forgotten how beautiful it was. Iíd like to see it again," he chuckled. "You know, set my feet up, read some novel you or one of your classmates will write."
"Doc, you know damn well...,"
"Watch your mouth in my presence, you lady!" the old man responded to the outburst calmly.
"Sorry, Father, but you must know how all of us think of your leaving the university. We can fight forced retirement. Thatís old hat, anyway. Besides, youíre our friend, too."
"Itís not forced retirement, Kadin. Iím retiring, and thatís it." He never rose from his chair nor turned to face the young woman. After thirty-five years as a school teacher, his students, former students, and their children all had objected in the same manner. He was honored by their objections then and just as honored now after an additional thirty years as a university professor and priest. He loved his students more than anyone in this world. It was time, though, he felt it in his bones and heart, to go home -- to the home heíd never forgotten -- to obey another order commanded by the same commander who had given him a pain filled order years before. "An old friend called me the other day, Kadin. Sheís a very..., old friend, and sheíd like me to come for a visit.
"Look, I know about the going away party you and your cohorts are planning. Thank you." Now he turned to face the young woman, "but all of you know how I feel about good-byes."
"Yeah, we figured you wouldnít be there. Itís going to go on anyway. Hey! You knew about it? Of course, you always know things youíre not supposed to know about."
"I should hope so. Have a good time. By the way, when are you going to marry that knothead?"
The shapely brunet blushed and said, "Heís too afraid to ask, Father."
"Not anymore. We sort of ran into each other earlier today and spoke for a while. No, actually I collared him after a morning class and told him that if he didnít make an honest woman of you, Iíd...," The blushing twenty year old coughed, "I told him Iíd introduce him to a web fingered Venusian who loves to much on unsuspecting chemists. Why in the West Coast world did you enroll in my theology class?" he asked to change the subject and let the blushing calm down some more.
"Father..., Abe," she began, "I sat in on a class when you gave your yearly sermon about giving up your life for a friend. You made it sound more like living for a friend is more important and more precious than dying for a friend. Parents give up their lives for their children by living for them the same as doctors and nurses do for their patients, or police and firefighters for their communities, or the military for their country..., teachers for their students," she added knowing that come September, she herself would be behind the Ďbig deskí in a classroom for the first time. "Anyone can die for somebody else, but it takes guts and love to live for somebody."
"Jehoshaphat! He exclaimed, "Somebody listened to that tired tune!"
"I took your class because when you speak," she squared her shoulders and stared into his eyes, "You teach not simply preach or lecture. You teach with authority. You didnít really collar him in the concourse, did you?"
"In reverse order? Yes, I did, and thank you for your kind words." He rose from his chair and hugged his student. She knew it was good-bye. She would complete the farewell to the rest of their friends at the party, and somehow she knew the party would double as a wake, the kind he would really appreciate.
After eighty-eight years, the neighborhood had changed more than a bit. The fourth through ninth holes of a golf course took up much of the area of the woods he loved so much. The various owners of the old house over the years had chosen to remodel laterally, making it look from the front more as a poorly designed and poorly kept up small strip mall than a home. But, the autumns were still rainbow-chilled and scented with dried leaves, pine, and pumpkins. Winters still brought out insulated clothing and cordwood, Christmas, February boredom, snow, and a childís bright eyes. With spring still came more Wisconsin snow storms, chocolate rabbits, and budding trees. All trees but one.
The newest owners had finally decided that they had had it with the old eye sore whether it was over a hundred years old or not. So, as the story is told, one morning an appropriately inept group of cousins parked their pick up behind the two car garage (the family owned only one car, using the remaining half as storage) and brought out a hardware storeís worth of axes and chain saws; but, midway through the first swing by the first axe, the first cousin in charge burped out, "Hey wait a minute! Look!" He pointed to the middle of the tree.
In fireman fashion, they lowered Abrahamís body from the tree. In the distance, a blue jay cried, "Aack!", and a small flag fluttered from the crowís nest.
© 2006 by Jeffrey Swencki
Bio: Jeffrey Swencki says only that he is "an unemployed school teacher". His affectionate and accurate portrayal of children in this story suggests that this is a terrible waste... but then, if he was teaching, would he have time to write?
E-mail: Jeffrey Swencki
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