Letters From Smitty: The Child



Dearest Reader,


It appears yet again that I am in great need of your assistance.  During the last few days I have been miserable.  My life more closely resembles the worst type of Hell, typically reserved for murderers, thieves, and deli clerks.  I feel as though I am descending into madness.  Allow me to discuss my situation with you and see if you can make heads or tails or pancakes out of it.

This all began when my roommate “Smitty” received a telegraph message from his sister, “Patty” who lives on the outskirts of Rapids City, SD.  Their family is originally from Boston but at some point they decided as a group that they no longer wanted to live under the oppressive rule of the British Crown and decided to move West.  This was probably around 1982.  They loaded up their truck and settled in the mountainous prairie land that was South Dakota.  (Of course, “Smitty” and I met at a Steampunk Arts Festival several years later, bringing him to Sheridan, WY.)  Patty stayed in South Dakota, eventually meeting a retired firefighter who impregnated her within 4 hours of conversation, and has remained there ever since.

In her message, “Patty” requested a favor from Smitty (and myself obviously).  She had been invited to trek deep into Big Horn National Forest on some sort of survivalist expedition.  She also mentioned something about “human prey” but I’m sure she was just joking.  “Patty” told her brother that he would need to watch her solitary child, “Kyle”, for the six-day period where she would dissipate into the woods, either to be hunted by or to hunt, humans.  “Smitty” to my shock and disgust agreed without giving even the slightest shred of thought to how I might be affected by it.

I am notoriously bad around children, you see.  At one point during my thirteen year stretch of unemployment, I volunteered to read to a local children’s library.  I selected a portion of my favorite children’s book, Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West.  I felt that its brutal violence and nihilistic world-view would teach the children a lesson about the harsh and uncaring nature of existence.  I started with my favorite passage:

Riding down the unhorsed Saxons and spearing and clubbing them and leaping from their mounts with knives and running about on the ground with a peculiar bandylegged trot like creatures driven to alien forms of locomotion and stripping the clothes from the dead and seizing them up by the hair and passing their blades about the skulls of the living and the dead alike and snatching aloft the bloody wigs and hacking and chopping at the naked bodies, ripping off limbs, heads, gutting the strange white torsos and holding up great handfuls of viscera, genitals, some of the savages so slathered up with gore they might have rolled in it like dogs and some who fell upon the dying and sodomized them with loud cries to their fellows.

It’s a classic.  But in the end, the Sheridan PTA Board discovered that my literary choices were not suitable for children.  Also, they got a hold of my criminal background check.  I was summarily stripped of my post.  The embarrassment was great and I felt as though I could never face another child again.  Those bulging, teary, almond-shaped eyes, casting doubt upon me at every turn was certainly more than I cared to bear again.  I swore from that moment on I would never look upon another child, lest my bones turn into dust and my face turn into another slightly uglier face.

Yet there I stood as “Smitty” sat at our telegraph, relaying his sister’s message to me and acquiescing to her demands.

“You fool!”  I cried.  “You damn, damn fool damn!”  “Smitty” grasped my shoulder tightly and told me I needed to overcome my fears by immersing myself in them, like I did with that stationary tub.  Only after I realize that the threat is in my mind alone could I carry onward.  This was sound advice.  However, I decided to bite him anyways.  We grappled for a bit and “Smitty” applied pressure to carotid artery and I fell fast asleep.

The next day I awoke to the shrill laughter of a pre-adult.  “Kyle” had arrived.  A note from “Smitty” was posted on our full-sized Malt Shop jukebox in the corner of our studio apartment.  It read: “I have ascended into the Spirit Realm to sittith on the Right Hand of God, the Father Almighty.  Be back around supper.”  I was left alone to fend for myself.

Although he had already spent 5 seasons on this Earth, “Kyle” was still very dim-witted in my estimation.  For example, I had been warned that he had not yet grasped the social intricacies of bowel movement and bladder evacuation.  This was a shocking revelation. My parents had me attuned to the ins and outs of the commode by the time I was 2 years old.  A heavy regimen of screaming and Chinese water torture helped me gain intestinal independence.

I have the utmost difficulties speaking to children.  I have no capacity to discuss topics that they might find interesting.  I find it demeaning and disrespectful.  “Kyle” and I had a rather dull conversation about the recent NSA scandal (which he knew practically nothing about).  I then decided that physical exertion was a better option than just discussing secret United States Spy Agencies.  I challenged “Kyle” to a push up contest, which I won handily.  However, the child still seemed listless and discontent.

I made the mistake of asking him what he wanted to do, wistfully thinking that it might involve some sort of transcendental meditation or binge eating perhaps.  “Kyle” instructed me that he wished to watch Sesame Street on television.  I regrettably informed him that “Smitty” and I did not keep a television in the house.  Quite frankly, there is no need.  I find it to be a waste of money, especially since “Smitty” and I get most of our news stories from a few select crows that fly by our window at dusk.  Speaking of which, did you hear about the hawk roosting on 31st street?  What’s this world coming to?

“Kyle” did not like this explanation and began to weep.  It was a deep sobbing, whine that reminded me of “Smitty’s” sleep apnea.  I knew that Sesame Street involved puppets of some type.  Little did “Kyle” know that I had myself dabbled in puppetry in my college years.  I leapt to the bedroom, cracked open a hermetically sealed glass case and removed my puppet Dobey from his crystalline coffin.

Within minutes of slipping Dobey over my hand, I was reminded why he was encased in triple-paned glass.  He was haunted.  “Smitty” had found this puppet at a local Sioux reservation yard sale.  In order to increase the value of the doll, “Smitty” asked its Native American owner if he could curse it.  The Sioux man obliged and wouldn’t you know it, it worked.

This brings me to my problem, Dear Reader.  It seems as though both my hand and Dobey the puppet have begun to operate completely independent of my body.  Their actions up to this point could only be described as dubious and malevolent.  “Kyle” has locked himself in the bathroom and I think I hear a hair dryer running.  I don’t want to lop my hand off with a kitchen knife, but at this point, I don’t see how this situation will resolve itself otherwise.

Please Dear Reader, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

– Alan Gibbons