PRESENT TENSE (So very late at half-past eight)

Late in the day, Edward King remembered rhymes from old childhood times:

One potato, two potato, three potato, four,
five potato, six potato, seven potato more.
One potato, two potato, three potato, four,
five potato, six potato, seven potato more.
Icha bacha, soda cracker,
Icha bacha boo.
Icha bacha, soda cracker,
Out goes YOU!

But he could never really understand why the other children often called him – Edward King – a potato, why they ever called him such a thing. Although in his heart, he somehow knew why his name invited such an insult, but he never knew why he himself as a person and as a child invited such an insult. Edward King could never understand such a thing. Edward King had never forgiven such a thing, this thing from among the things that children sing.

Or sung.

If he ever owned a time travel machine, like Doctor Who owned such a thing, Edward King vowed to take that thing back to those old childhood days, and he would not only give them a piece of his mind, but one or two other things that might help make their future perfect and his present less tense.

But no sense was halfway to full sense, Edward King somehow knew. Nonsense, perhaps, to believe that nonsense could create sense by some means of make-believe or a brainstorming leap from one era to another. A time machine would arrive in time. Why not today? And with his walking stick, Edward King tried just such a thing. He tried to leap from one paving-slab to another, without touching the crack between, although he hadn’t managed to leap between minutes let alone years for at least the length of a breath. And today’s breath, he knew, was short and he managed to land backside down not upon the crack so much, as IN the crack, his stick wheeling down the road into another century when the Kings of England were still beheld with some interest by future history books.

He was there. No, he wasn’t. He IS there, when singing is sung, potatoes are outstretched fists, and children play in the streets till late. Still playing now, if one has the ability to hear them. With numbers chalked between the cracks and hopping and skipping and jumping between. Who could credit such a thing? Edward King.

He had a double crown, one for then, one for now. Who else could boast such a thing? Edward King.

The moon shares the sky with the sun. One day neither of them will rise or fall. Who can live to see such a thing? Edward King.

But maybe even Edward King sleeps a sleep by forsaking waking.

So, who is who in the Land of Nod? Just you, me and someone’s God? And no such thing as Edward King?

Nothing is nonsense, and so are we.

Potato, potato, eight oh, eight oh,
Potato, potato, hate yo, hate yo.
Icha bacha, soda cracker,
Icha bacha boo,
Icha bacha, p’tato snacker,
Icha bacha, who are YOU?

No more mime, no more rhyme without reason. No more time without treason.

A small child picks up a walking-stick from the side of the road and hands it to a friend. Too dark to see who was who, even if one was you.

They hear their mothers calling ‘Come!’ – grown too late now for childish fun. But hopefully time to find another walking-stick to rattle up one last game for Kings in historic battle. Who’s heard of such a thing? So very very late, leapt well past half past eight.

The only sense to make amends. Present tense, so it ends.


Please see #DFLewisThingie on Twitter for other old unpublished short fictions

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