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The Thaddeus Gazette

A Likely Story


The literature of the paranormal is rife with anecdotes. Naturally, the legitimacy of such stories is primally impacted by the verifiable veracity of their sources. Credible professionals such as doctors, lawyers, police officers and public officials are frequently cited as eyewitnesses to various supernatural events such as ghosts, flying saucers and alien abduction. Their accounts frequently take the form, "I couldn't believe my eyes but there it was."

Should we then take these testimonies as convincing evidence that there is a hard case for ghosts, flying saucers and alien abduction? Not really. Given the paucity of physical evidence for any of these phenomena (especially in this digital age of a camera on every phone), these testimonies might rather be used in support of the assertion that doctors, lawyers, police officers, public officials, and, in fact, human beings in general, are really really lousy witnesses.

It's not our fault, impoverished defense though that may be. The real culprit is Mother Nature. I know, I know, if at first you don't succeed, blame your parents. No, really — and let this be a lesson to all those shouty militant atheists out there: evolution doesn't care if you perceive reality or not. In fact, the ability to forget or subsume unpleasant details of your last eleventy nine screwups can help you jump right up in the morning, strap on your rocket pack and get back into action. Sure, remembering important details of the spoor of the sabertooth cat has its survival value, true enough. But the size of the teeth? The grasp of the claws? The bristlesome contours of the whiskers? Hey, who cares? Make something up! Something impressive! Maybe you'll get laid!

As usual, the natural way of systems design leaves a lot to be desired, even when compared with, say, the dev team for Windows Me. Trying any old variation that will grow a specimen, however gross and unwieldy, and hanging onto the ones with a preponderance of coping skills is a slow, clumsy process by our standards — we who are the nth-generation offspring of that very same Rube-Goldbergesque phylogenic contraption. Its true beauty lies in its independence of any external guidance. Just wind up a universe, let it go and poof! life comes out. Life with really really lousy witnesses.

Anyway, the story I'm about to tell you is true. Only the hearsay has been changed to enhance the narrative.

Sometime in the early 70's, a beautiful, passionate, slightly nuts and more than slightly wild young woman had a big yen to go to a B.B. King concert. Got friends, got the ticket, got all dolled up, got on the bus. It was a snowy night and slush had accumulated in the stairwell. Rushing off the bus right in front of the venue, trying not to be late meeting her friends, she slipped, tripped, fell and snapped an ankle like a dry stick. Just like that.

Her companions raced to her aid. One of them helped her to a car for a trip to the ER, another took charge of vending her valuable ticket to the sold out show. Through the early evening traffic they raced to the hospital, which apparently was experiencing a slow night: she was in, x-rayed, set, cast and out the door in an hour. The doctors tried to talk her into a few days off her feet, but she was all "Nuh UH" and made them put on a walking cast. There was still time to get to the concert.

Ferried back to the theater, she arrived right before showtime. Packed house, standing room only, sold out show. This is B.B. King we're talking about here. Not a ticket to be had for love, money or illicit drugs. The wild young woman with the cast on her leg despaired.

And then two of King's tour guys who'd watched the whole thing go down from the sliptrip bus accident on came over and said, "Hey. Sister. Come with us."

They brought her in a back door and planted her stage left. She watched the whole show, leg elevated, was tenderly attended by her rescuers, and afterwards the entire crew lined up to sign the cast. Her friends were duly informed and helped her back to the car to go home. On the way, one of them was reading the inscriptions and said "Hey, you didn't tell me you'd got to meet him."

"Meet who?"

"B.B. King."

"I never saw him."

"Well, he must have seen you. There's his signature."

Sure enough, there it was. "Love you madly, B.B. King." in bright blue ink. Snuck thru the line, made his mark, scooted. Good trick.

As soon as the break partially healed, against her doctor's orders the young woman cut off and discarded the cast. Her mother, wiser than her in the ways of memorabilia, saved the chunk with the telltale autograph and triumphantly presented it to her as a Christmas present, a present she preserved faithfully as a treasured relic in her collection of indubitably magical objects down through the years.

And how, you ask, do I happen to know this story? Old foggy white guy? Hmm? Read it somewhere? Overheard a conversation in a bar?

Far from it.

The beautiful, passionate, slightly nuts and more than slightly wild young woman in question was my first wife Sandahbeth, passed now these seven years. She told me and others this story repeatedly over the 30 years of our marriage, and upon her departure I inherited the venerable object, now faded by years and viscitudes of travel.

I wouldn't go so far as to imagine the two of them jamming in the Big WhaAfter, but I'd like to think that they nod amiably at one another on one or another of the multitudinous corners of those many mansions, passing in the streets of gold on their way to whatever diversions they have picked out at that moment from the innumerable rewards they both so richly deserve.

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