Harold was a small curious boy who loved to look around. In some ways he was normal. Although an only child, he enjoyed the privacy. He was friendly to people and most animals. From a distance he did not look smaller. Harold did like to paint. But he loved to look at his paintings. He liked to look at them about twice as much as doing them.
He liked to think about them three times as much as looking at them. His favorite colors were blue, yellow, green, black, orange, forest green, red, white, off white, and extremely off white. He did not like aqua because the spelling irritated him. When Harold realized there were way more numbers than there were colors he was very disturbed and became disoriented. He would have fainted if he had not already been laying down. Then he thought you could still faint even if you were laying down. Then he wondered if that had ever been studied. Of all the paintings Harold had ever seen, his favorite was the one he saw on a school field trip to a museum. He had stood in front of it for 25 minutes. He’d never seen anything like it. On the grounds of the old farm was a 50 ft. clothes pin, the size of a silo. He didn’t understand. It looked real but it couldn’t be. But it wasn’t a cartoon either. His teacher Mr. Phillips told him it was what is called surrealism. Harold loved it. The image was burned into his head for the rest of his life. It was a whole new version of the world. He couldn’t wait to leave and remember it. And to try to do it himself. He didn’t blink for two hours. On a tangent he wondered why anyone wanted to know what time it was when you couldn’t do anything about it anyway. Slowly he took his watch off and threw it onto the floor of the bus.
Years later Mr. Phillips would commit suicide in the lobby of The National Opinion Research Center.
He was Harold’s favorite teacher. Apparently being alive was out of his comfort zone.
That night Harold was laying down in his small single used bed looking up at the ceiling. He noticed the pattern up there from the shadow of the tree branches. There was an old street lamp on a telephone pole about 30 ft. away that would cause these shapes to appear on his ceiling. Night after night , year after year. But now because of his trip to the museum Harold thought of them differently.
He pushed his bureau into the middle of the small (size wise) room so he could reach the ceiling when he stood on it. With a thin brush and a bottle of India ink he carefully painted the shadow exactly onto the ceiling.
He loved the smell of the ink. But not as much as the many bottles of nail polish remover that he found in the bird house way in the woods behind Johnson’s farm.
Harold looked forward to the morning when he could see how the painted shadow looked in the light. He knew he could just turn the lamp on and see how it looked right now, but he prefered sun light to Sears light bulb light. Harold made many decisions based on what he saw as solid facts or his emotional opinion. Then he got back into his bed and waited for the earth to revolve further around the sun.
Soon he would fall asleep for 7 hours and 32 minutes.
That night Harold had no dreams.
Again. This was normal for him. Because he hadn’t had a dream in almost two years.
Harold decided he wouldn’t worry about this until it got to be more than 3 years. Then he would ask someone, maybe his mother, and that wasn’t a firm decision because if he asked his mother anything she would talk non-stop for at least 17 minutes straight barely addressing the question.
This was extremely tiring for Harold because his attention wouldn’t drift, for some reason he would try to listen to the abstract speach that his mother was making. Like a toy train his brain would stay firmly on track, weaving turn through previously unconnected subjects.
Harold had the opposite of ADD. He needed to go some to some school somewhere and learn how to space out.
The last dream he had was about the man who invented mirrors. When Harold woke up the next day all he could remember was that he had a dream about a slender tall man working in a workshop trying to invent mirrors. As time went by parts of the dream would come into his head. Out of the blue he would remember the man sitting in his work shop smoking a cigar with a piece of glass on an easel. He’d be staring blankly up at small bird standing on the ledge near the roof inside the work shop. The man was focused on how glass was made and how it could be altered to reach his goal.
Then Harold would come back to counting how many chinese restauarants he’d ever been in that was the subject he had decided to write about in one of his classes. It was a choice he made to see if he could do it without the teacher confronting him on how insane the subject matter was.
He was going to describe it in such detail that it would make the teacher nervous the more she read.
The reason he was doing this was because the teacher amused him in a way that amused him. She was Asian, kind of average looking other than she looked like two sisters combined. In a way that two photos of the same subject printed on top of each other would look.
Her name was Yuka.
Harold would remember her name on and off the rest of his life. She wore square black rimmed glasses that made Harold find her even more attractive. He did not know why. He didn’t know it then but it was the beginning of him not understanding why some women would drive him crazy even more than others that were seen in society as way more beautiful.
Her quiet way of speaking sounded as if she had been recorded yelling and then played back at a very low volume. Like a whisper played with electronically.
Everyday when in Yuka’s class Harold would space out for a few minutes planning his reincarnation. His goal was to come within an hour of his death so he could attend his own funeral as someone else. He wondered what shoes he would wear for his reincanation. Actually Harold didn’t really believe in reincarnation, sometimes he just thought like he did for his own amusement. He once did a charcoal sketch of a guy who was partially reincarnated.
In the row to his right and 3 seats up sat Elizabeth Henderson. She was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen. He did not like that he felt that way about her. It made him feel like she was controlling him.
Harold wanted his opinion of how she looked to have nothing to do with her appearance, otherwise he was her marionette. Sometimes he would wake up in the middle of the night shaking and sweating thinking he’d become a marionette. He considered dreams thoughts you had when you were sleeping. Harold began to imagine that he was shipwrecked on an island with Elizabeth for 45 minutes before they were rescued.
They would never tell what happened while they were there. They promised each other. He thought Elizabeth’s shadow should be in color. Maybe a very light blue. Very carefully the small boy wrote on a small piece of paper that he ripped off from his last math test a short note to her. It said ‘Dear Elizabeth I think your shadow should be in color.’ He thought of handing it to other students to hand to her but instead he folded into a small paper airplane and ate it.
Now it was time for him to look at the clock up near the top of the wall to the right and once again see if he could hold his breath for two minutes. He’d been able to do it for a few months now and wanted to keep in shape. The process would begin when the red second hand reached the 12. Now off and running. At a minute and a half his head started to feel like a pressure in it but he continued on. Ten more seconds, five, two and once again a success. An important part of the attempt was once reaching two minutes to take that long awaited deep breath without making much noise so no one in the class would know what he was doing. The reason Harold did this is so when he was swimming in a pool or in the ocean he could go under water and travel a pretty good distance before coming up for air. He wanted people to think that maybe he had drowned but no one ever did because no one was ever paying attention.
Harold wondered who the guy was who thought of putting the flag at have mast and if when he died they put the flag even lower having to dig a ten foot deep hole around the pole so that the flag could actually be flown below ground level.
The sun shown on Elizabeth’s blonde hair. Whenever Harold was in a department store and he was walking up or down a broken escalator he would imagine that time had stopped and he was the only one left and all the other people moving around we’re really robots and then he thought wouldn’t it be great if time stopped in the store and he was with Elizabeth and they could hold hands and run through the store laughing and run outside and look up into to the sky to see if the clouds and the birds were moving. Every morning for breakfast Harold would eat a bowl of raisin bran and put extra sugar on it.
The boy wondered why police helicopters didn’t have sirens and if there were such things as bullet proof negligees. He raised his hand when the teacher had her back to the class pretending that he was going to ask her if there were such things as bullet proof negligees but the teacher turned around and saw Harold’s hand on the way down and said ‘Yes Harold?’ he knew he shouldn’t ask that so instead he said ‘I just realized that you can only weigh fish after they’re out of the water and if there were fish floating around over the moon you probably couldn’t weigh them until they were brought back to earth.’ The teacher MS Yuka said ‘I know you’re a big fan of the Apollo Space program but right now we’re doing math.’ Harold thought what a narrow minded bitch she is.
Two days earlier the class watched a 20 minute movie of turtles coming out of eggs. The guy from the av department rolled the projector into the class on a high metal stand. Then MS Yuka told Bernard Wilson to close the blinds. He tried very hard but the way blinds are there was always some light coming through anyway which made it a little difficult to make out the picture. Harold thought that there should be a special light bulb that gave of darkness so that the room would be good for watching the movie. It could a bulb that if you turned the switch once it gave off light and if you turned the switch twice it gave off darkness.
As Harold watched the movie he thought it would be better if they played the movie backwards so the turtles were going back into the shells and the shells were sealing up on there own and if it was played backwards at a fast speed it would look like reverse time lapse photography. Harold had an IQ of 260. When he brought the result of his I Q testing home to his mother she wasn’t impressed because she didn’t know what IQ meant.
Then Harold thought to himself ‘Im in a book, it’s a book about me but I’m not reading it in a normal way with words, I’m reading it by watching what happens and doing things and thinking about it. I’m not sure where I am in the book. I know I’m not in the very beginning but I don’t know if I’m near the end or not.
So far it’s been a pretty good book. It’s had everything. No it hasn’t had everything but it’s had a lot. Elizabeth is in the book. He thought of saying to Elizabeth. ‘Hello Elizabeth welcome to chapter 16’.
It’s not like s regular book in many ways- you can’t read it faster. You just can’t.
Harold smiled to himself when he thought that his book had the best pictures of any book in the world.
And he thought to himself what a crazy funny world this is.
Harold began to think about the time that his grandfather pointed out some horses to him and told him they were wingless Pegasuses. And he asked him how you could tell those horses from regular horses? And his grandfather said ‘You can tell by their attitude. The wingless Pegasus looks disappointed because he doesn’t have what he used to have.’ Then his grandfather asked him if he knew the moral of the story and Harold remembered saying ‘Be happy with what you have’ and his grandfather said ‘No, be thankful you never had wings.’
From then on Harold felt bad for birds.
To be continued probably.