Bewildering Stories

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Statements of Fact

by Bill Turner

Blurting it out was a problem he overcame long ago. Tapping a foot on the floor and grinding the teeth would not relieve his irritation at the blunder. “A truck is out of control on Third Avenue” is a statement of fact. That is, unless the truck has not yet gone out of control.

It began as a parlor trick. As a child, statements of soon to be fact were dismissed by his parents as coincidence. Once, he proudly announced that the Giants won the title after watching a football game in November. His uncle took him to the off track betting establishment sometime after the season, only to spend a few hundred bucks discovering that the “facts” arrived spontaneously and could not be summoned or contrived.

“Please, mister, open the gate,” she said. She had been there for three hours. “I know you can help me find him.”

“I don’t know where your son is, lady,” he shouted through the living room window. He was standing and watching her every move. “Go away. I can’t help you.”

“Please help me, please.” She was yelling in between sobs.

She would not go away. John knew that she would not go away until she had fulfilled her reason for being there. “She was wearing a black tee shirt and faded blue jeans, officer. I think it was a knife, but she was behind me when she stabbed me so I’m not sure.” He was repeating his pronouncement to himself, trying to decide if his mind was playing a trick.

He wanted the seclusion that his home afforded. He was a three-quarters of a mile removed from his nearest neighbor. The thunderstorm had knocked out his phone line and electricity, so he figured the crews would be on hand for repairs any time now. The black thought that the connections were damaged on his end and that they would need to be reported was circling in his mind.

“I knew I should have charged the cell phone last night,” he whispered. He was angry with himself.

“Don’t make me beg.” She went down to her knees and placed her hands together. “I’m begging, mister, I’ll do anything you ask. Help me find him.”

She had stood behind him in line at Huckleberry’s Quick Stop. He was looking at the young woman adjusting her bra strap in front of him, focused on her long and skeletal looking fingers. He blurted out his latest statement, and the truck careened into a pole on the other side of the street a few moments later. Nobody was seriously hurt, but his special statement produced awe.

The woman who now stood outside of his gate had been keenly interested in how he could have known the truck was coming, given that he could not possibly see it from where he was standing. John noticed that she was short, pudgy and did not wear makeup. He rarely answered questions because he did not want the attention. One entrepreneur had offered him a fortune to open “St. John the Divine’s psychic hotline” two years ago.

“Lady, I’m not a psychic. I have no idea where your son is.” John watched as she returned to her feet and began to pace. Her black tee shirt and faded blue jeans were visible as she walked back and forth down the fence line. He wondered if the tree limb in the driveway as he arrived home last night was fate’s way of making him park outside of the fence on the roadside.

“You have to tell me.” She was staring at him through the living room window. Her tone changed and she looked enraged. “Tell me where he is, you can’t hide him.”

He wondered if he had ever been wrong. He did not follow up on many of his pronouncements. He did not care. That was not precisely true. He had not cared, until now.

“You can’t hide him, mister.” She shook with rage. “I’ll come in there and get him if I have to.”

He was hoping to make another pronouncement about the phone or electricity, soon.

Copyright © 2004 by Bill Turner

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