Saturday, December 28, 2013
The Ghost Of Fasler Cove
Walter Pedington was not the sort of fellow to rock the boat. How many people, if you gave them the gift to travel forward and backwards through time, would stay in the same small town doing the same small things that could have been done anyway?
Some people will tell you that they would go back to stop Lee Harvey Oswald, John Wilkes Booth, or Adolf Hitler. Others would want to go back and see a dinosaur. Most would be bent on increasing their own wealth; perhaps collecting antiquities to sell in a future where they are valuable or bringing a handy gadget from the future into a past where it can be passed off as their own invention for profit, or even playing the stock market or betting on ponies. Some would try to rule the world, others save it, which might amount to the same thing.
But when Walter Pedington received his gift, none of these things apparently interested him or crossed his mind. This perhaps, was the very reason he was trusted with the gift, for that we know of, he never abused it for profit or to change the course of history.
It was common to see Walter at age 54 sitting on the porch swing of his parents' house on Behemoth Lane conversing with Walter at age 7. He very much enjoyed talking to himself. Indeed, you might run into him at Morey Point watching himself painting a picture of the sea, or catch him at the Fallout Cafe playing a game of chess with himself while a younger Walter shared a cigarette with a pretty girl outside and a fourth sat brooding by the window, remembering that same girl's death. Walking your dog along the path from Pelican Landing to Frost's Wood you might be passed by Walter at the age of 10 zipping by on his bike only to then pass Walter at age 64 sitting on the bench before finding Walter at 18 laying on a blanket in the grass with a sweetheart.
There is a possibility that Walter is guilty of that sin for which I acquitted him, for if he had already altered the course of history and ruled the world before I was born, I would have no way of knowing it. I have often compared the face of 19 year old Walter to a photograph of a bust of Alexander the Great. It is possible that after 12 years of conquest he was prepared to live a quiet life again in a world shaped by his own youthful ambitions. But how would I ever know? And further, Walter has always seemed more interested in introspection than in governing others.
His funeral was a mind bending affair. Walters of various ages were in attendance and out numbered other funeral goers. He outlived his friends and lovers and left no survivors. Once he was married to a young poetess but she left with a younger version of himself before filing for a divorce later that year. Likewise he never had children, for he had himself all those years and always kept a ball and mitts, bicycle, and snacks on hand for when he visited and even drove himself to his own sixth grade piano recital. There were days when his yard was filled with a chorus of his own youthful laughter while six or seven young Walters played capture the flag or kickball.
Even after his death we continue to see Walter, in line buying tickets at the new Cineplex, hiking the trails in Frost's Wood, eating a banana split at the ice cream parlor. It is impossible to imagine Fasler Cove without him, though as time passes, we see less of him and he is more often alone. I imagine that in another 20 years, there will be no one left here who remembers who he is, no more grandmothers who can point him out and say that their mother went to school with that boy, or kissed that young man at a barbeque 100 years ago.
He is like a ghost from a time that has slipped into the realm of fantasy, but soon he will be such a ghost that his presence will go unnoticed and seem utterly ordinary.