This week's Sunday Scribblings theme is not so much a prompt, as it is an assignment. The premise of this assignment (I'm paraphrasing - so this is my interpretation of the assignment here): Go out into the world, armed with your pen and paper; your eyes and ears; and find an interesting character to study. Note all their individual details. Then, based upon your observations, write about that character.
If you're interested in the whole process thing, here are my notes (and my wonky quick sketch) on my character - otherwise, you can skip on down to the full story - which really is only
slightly embellishing* my observations (and drawing a strange possible conclusion from them).
*and fictionalizing (added later to clarify that this is a story that I wrote based on my observations.
TRANSCRIBED NOTES: Tall bald guy, came out of nowhere pulling at clothes (zipping?) in a hurry
or just moves fast-long legs talking to clerk looked at me, knows I'm looking weird sideburns diagonal 20's-30's? pale light eyes khaki pantcuffs turned up new brown shoes "only came in for that one"
Now here's the story that came from that:
For such a tall guy, he certainly seemed to appear out of thin air. One moment I was the only one crossing a parking lot of cars. There wasn't a 6'6' bald man in sight; and yet, the next minute, there he was, in front of me. Straightening his clothes: adjusting his pants, smoothing down his shirt, as though they'd gotten askew as he fell from the sky into the parking lot. He touched his khaki's somewhat awkwardly; almost as if he'd never worn this particular type of clothing before. Like someone wearing a costume from another century.
He continued to stride purposefully across the parking lot towards the bookstore, as he tugged and smoothed his non-descript, light tan khaki's (the khaki was only a shade darker than his pale, smooth and mostly hairless skin). He moved as though time were of the essence - no time to stop and look down to make sure the fly was zipped all the way; just grope as you go, and hope for the best. Never breaking his stride as he made these adjustments; he appeared to be a man on a mission.
His long legs carried him in no time through the doors and on to the back of the store; past browsing shoppers and the ever-present students sitting in the aisles, leaning against bookcases. He moved like a cruise ship sailing alongside dinghies and rowboats. He towered over them; and without ever appearing to really hurry, he glided past them in a blink of an eye.
I followed at a discreet distance; his bald head was like a beacon, seen above the bookcases. Even at the back of the store he was easy to spot all the way from the entrance. He looked down towards the clerk at the information desk from his full height; he didn't bend down or lean over the counter as many tall people are apt to do when addressing shorter people. As the clerk searched for something in a large volume, the bald man glanced around towards the front of the store. He appeared to scan the crowd, as if he was aware he was under scrutiny.
His gaze touched mine lightly, passed on to the next shopper; then swung back - as though some small, subtle clue had suddenly registered in his circuitry, that I was the person overly interested in him. He gave me one more quick, dismissive glance, then turned back to the clerk who was speaking to him.
As I drew closer (feigning I was scanning bookshelves for non-existent titles), I would sneak little furtive peeks at him, and odd details in his appearance became apparent.
Despite the length of his legs, his khaki pants appeared too long even for him - as though they were hand-me-downs from his big brother. Even turned up at the bottom hem, they still draped over his new brown pleather shoes. He didn't wear a watch or carry a cell phone, or even appear to have so much as a pen, or anything in his pockets. His eyebrows were very light - almost non-existent. But the most striking feature of all, was the strange sparse, light brown sideburns on his otherwise-bald head. They weren't mutton chops or straight sideburns - these appeared to grow at an odd angle, too high up for a man's normal beard growth. They were two lightning bolts of hair, growing almost diagonally across his face. Starting an inch or more away from his ears, just below his high cheekbones, then almost alongside his straight nose; on down to just past his mouth, towards his jutting jaw. The rest of his face was smooth and unlined. He could have been almost any age, from twenty to forty.
Perhaps moving so quickly through time slows the aging process.
I finally had arrived within hearing distance, just as he replied to the clerk's question, in flat, unaccented English, "No, thank you. I only came here for that one." As he turned away from the clerk, his small, blue-gray eyes, looking like two steel ball bearings - met mine briefly. He added, "I made a special trip here just for that. Nothing else." I wasn't certain if he was talking to the clerk, or to me.
Then he purposefully strode once again past the browsing shoppers, the leaning students, towards the exit. As though this were just one of many bookstores he would be visiting on his mission for that one book.
I tried to quickly follow him - I wanted to see what kind of car or truck he might get into...but when I looked out through the glass doors at the front, the parking lot appeared empty - no pedestrians in sight, and there were no cars starting or leaving. Apparently he'd left the same way he came. Disappeared into thin air.
I went back to question the clerk, to ask her what he'd been looking for, but other customers had already lined up, taking the bald man's place. I browsed awhile waiting, but by the time I came back to the desk, she'd gone home. Another clerk had taken over the information counter.
Now I'll never know what one book he might have been looking for, and somehow I think it's important. I mean really important. There was a sense of urgency and also a sense of - what can I call it? Timelessness...This sounds a little crazy, even to me; but I'll share it with you anyway. I think -- I think he came here looking for something we'll need someday. But I don't know exactly what - which one...
I know; I know what you're thinking...if a civilization is advanced enough for time travel, what could we possibly know now that they wouldn't know; but who knows what knowledge we've already lost through time? When they burned the library at Alexandria, what knowledge was lost then?
Though there are theories, we don't even know for certain how they built Stonehenge or the pyramids, or why we did those things. We think we might know; but we don't really. We don't have the books anymore, if they ever existed.
What else don't we know now, that we might not even know that we need to know? What might we know now, that someday will be forgotten and needed again...
What one book should I try to ensure gets passed down; preserved through the ages? I wish I knew what one book might save him this trip; going on this mission. Maybe save us...even the planet.
I wish he could pull it out of thin air. I hope he finds it in time.
To read more Sunday Scribblings by other scribblers, click here.