TIN MAN

a short story by

R.K. Gandhi

Intellectual property of R.K. Gandhi

A man with a tweed blazer and fedora steps out of his flat one morning, takes a deep breath of fresh air as if it were his first, or last, in a very long time.  He begins walking down the street of his old neighbourhood with a newspaper he has clutched in his hands. This man’s name is Michael, and his lean body walks with a sense of purpose and direction.  Michael is your average height, with dark brown hair, with greys on the side and front.  He does however, have above average bags below his eyes, which are under his round framed spectacles.  He walks for miles, unfazed by his surroundings and others around him.  He stops off at the local floral shop and purchases a potted flower. It’s a daisy this particular time.  He tips his hat to the florist and continues walking to his destination.

Finally Michael arrives at a bench at the local train station.  It’s fairly busy this morning, with commuters bustling around him.  He dusts off the bench with the newspaper, and sits down.  He places the potted flower right next to him.  With a sigh, he checks his watch, and it’s 7am. Right on time he thinks to himself. He unfolds his paper, and begins to read.

This story begins where most stories leave off, true heartfelt happiness between the main character, in this case Michael, and everyone else who is fashionably and fastenably tied to him. In case you are wondering, fastenably is not a word, but do please look it up in the dictionary when you get a chance, for it will make the idea of me creating the word much more notable and boost by battered ego significantly. Quite sad I know. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes! Fastenably tied!

Michael and his typewriter were inseparable. In fact, he had a typewriter in every room of the house. His mother, for the life of her, could never pin point his location; the sound of keystrokes echoed and bounced off walls. She would peek into every room in the house, sometimes twice over without finding him. Until finally she gave up being the detective, using such contraptions as the stethoscope and telescope to locate him. This after realizing that even the attic, tree, and roof were considered writing rooms for Michael. The best way to find that little mouse she said, was by luring him with food of course. Supper!

Year after year he’d pitter patter away on his typewriters, whenever he had a chance. In every room, each piece of paper with new ideas and a different storyline. He felt that the wide array of wallpapers in each particular room represented a specific mood. His parents room, a room with withered wallpaper, yellow and brown, quite antiquity, was a somber room. 2 years being the last time Michael’s parents made love, they would feel much of the same sadness. Next was the sister’s room. Neat, tidy, vibrant, picturesque in that French maroon warm type of way. This made Michael feel secure, strong, European. His sister, Hanna, didn’t mind the old fashioned typewriter being in her room since it added to the allure. It was right beside a record player and a stack of records. Aesthetically pleasing, the record player was operationally and occupationally deemed unfit for work. It filed a grievance, so Hannah provided it with a place to stay for a lifetime. The record player and its representatives were very pleased with the settlement.

Quite the writer Michael had become by 6. Writing novels and winning a Pulitzer (it was actually Twizzlers but it rhymed and tasted better than any award) for his political short work ‘Assassination Monkey’. Assassination Monkey was a masterful story of a much heralded monkey who was chosen as leader of his people. Once chosen though, things went terribly wrong. He became a dictator of the Stuffed Animal world. Foolish and arrogant, monkey made the monetary system solely based on bananas. Teddy bear, Froggy, and Dog were some of his loyal servants but had grown weary of such an economic system. It was they who rumbled about overthrowing the government, but who was responsible for the kidnapping? Quite a thriller. When asked by the Pulitzer committee (mom and dad) why Michael had written this piece, Michael unbearably started crying, replying ‘I can’t find my monkey, I lost my monkey’.

Shortly after, he wrote yet another piece, a classic heist story entitled ‘Breaking the Bank’. Fascinating tale of suspense about a young man out on his luck, pushed into a get rich quick scheme with the wrong people. Big crime, but an even bigger score. A very emotional piece about the depths of how low a man will go to get what he wants. Again when asked about his ideas by the committee, Michael broke down crying, admitting it was he who broke the piggy bank in an attempt to purchase, above all, more Twizzlers.

By age 10, Michael received every major newspaper in the country at his doorstep, informing each of all the mechanical errors, even correcting them with a black marker and delivering the papers back to them. They were not impressed. Michael had grown distaste for fiction, he found it to emotionally draining, what with ‘Monkey’ never found, and his criminal history of theft. No, Michael grew fond of the news and daily events. He became editor for the school newspaper, reporting on all the school’s happenings, and often adding his own political satire. Not of U.S. or World politics, but school politics of course. Never really gifted in school, Michael succumbed to less than average grades; except for English, in which he failed repeatedly. And by 16, Michael had quit school to work on his freelance writing. The financial equivalence of volunteering, he did find it just as rewarding.

Then the war came, and this changed everything. Michael was peaceful for the most part. However, he did have a temper when the ink ran out on his typewriter, or when ideas ran out of his head. Michael decided that in order to report the most accurate and decisive news from the war, he’d enlist as a translator. That way, he’d only have shoot off his mouth once and a while as opposed to his gun. The problem was, he didn’t know how to speak any other languages except English, and of course his unique brand of verbatim sometimes used in his writing; if you recall ‘fastenably’. Michael, using is divine skills in writing, forged an immaculate resume and application thereby making him completely fluent in Russian, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, and Polish, along with two languages from the Hobbit, Elvish and Aramic. He couldn’t resist drawing parallels from the book to World War II.

This is a short excerpt from his journal…

Once we heard the storming of the beach was going to happen, I decided that I needed to be there, writing it as I saw it. I waited 3 days on that cliff and nothing. Until finally, I saw the first few boats in the horizon. A German officer suddenly appeared behind me, climbing up the cliff. I drew my gun, it was backwards, so I turned it around. It was upside down. I flipped it upright. Fortunately, he had his hands up before I even drew it. He showed me his typewriter hanging from his shoulder. He slowly walked up to me with his walking stick, sat down and pulled out paper. He was older, a white beard, and deep voice. I gave him a funny look, a look that was kind of a mixture of a guy from a Western movie and a shit scared clown at a rodeo. I was a clown of a cowboy. What I did notice in between my hard squint, was a patch of a hobbit on the pocket of his military jacket. ‘Gandolf?’ I asked. He replied ‘Bilbo?’ So, I decided to do what any other man in that situation would do. Speak Aramic. He acknowledged. Unfortunately, we could only recite quotes from the book, so the conversation was constantly off topic, with lots of awkward laughs. So we sat together, typing the histories of our nations together. I tried to take a peak at what he was writing, but he kept covering it up like I was trying to cheat on a test. Sucker, I can’t even read German, I just wanted to see the date.  He had no idea what I was writing either. Looks like we both forged our translations skills, looks like we’re both creative.

Michael decided not to go back home right away, and explore France after the war.  Not an ideal getaway, but seeing the human spirit lift up through the chaos and madness of war intrigued him.  It’s like a near death experience, the very next moment, the one you realize you’re still alive, is probably the best moment in your life.  Well, that was his logic. He wanted to see that moment in everyone.  Yes, there was aching pain, loss, suffering.  But when the war ended, there was a realization among the French that life was more precious than that final cigarette in the carton.

More to follow…