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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA



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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

The Parcel of the Beast

(Hey, science fans. All Pluto’d out yet?

Well, over at Secondhand SCIENCE, this week’s science talk is all about the retrovirus. It ain’t space science. But it won’t take sixteen months to download, either. Give it a spin.)

Some people believe in omens.

I’m not one of those people. Sure, I believe in The Omen, insofar as I’m pretty sure a movie with that name exists. Maybe even a sequel — which I would assume is named The Omen II: Electric Omenloo. But as for actual omens, portending doom or luck or plagues of Elvis impersonators — nah. I don’t see it.

Which is a good thing. Because sometimes things happen that I could interpret as omens, were I so inclined. And they’re never good. Like the one last week.

I do a fair bit of collaborative writing with my friend Jenn.

(That’s not the “omen” part. That’s just the “background” bit. Keep going.)

Most of this collaboration comes in the form of an activity we call “drinkstorming”, a key and integral part of the process of getting a script together. Any process that comes in a pint glass, I can get behind.

Anyway, we finished a script a few days ago, which happened to be for a one-act play contest. This particular contest doesn’t accept online submissions — because it’s located in 1994, apparently — so I licked a copy of the script (the “GOLD, JERRY, GOLD! script) into an envelope and hoofed it down the block to my local post office.

Or Pony Express outpost, or Morse code relay station or carrier turtle holding pen. Whatever archaic technology the Luddites are using to snail information around the world these days. Maybe the place just puts lanterns in the window; one if by Amazon, two if the new Restoration Hardware catalog is in. I don’t know.

“After a short wait in line, I reached the counter and the Deskjobmaster General, or whatever it is he’s called.”

After a short wait in line, I reached the counter and the Deskjobmaster General, or whatever it is he’s called. He was a friendly older guy in absolutely no hurry — which was great, because if he was, his USPS-issued Apple Lisa-era personal computumotronic device would have sucked the “hurry” right out of him.

He didn’t seem to mind. And I was just happy not to get the “postal” flavor of postal worker. So we were cool.

When his computer’s hamsters finally ran through the numbers, he told me the price for the package — a little over three bucks — and I pulled out a tenner and paid him. He opened his drawer to make change — no, not his drawers, you pervert, jesus — and then he turned pale. Very pale. Like, as pale as I’d have turned if he’d pulled my change out of his drawers. Then he turned to me, all ashen-faced and crinkly-browed and said:

“Your change… is six sixty-six.”

This number concerns me not at all. I know what it’s associated with, yes. The horns and the forked tail and the violin-playing robot guy — all the stuff from the pamphlets the crazy “END IS NIGH” guys pass out on the sidewalk. I know. I don’t care.

Also, I know if it were an omen, it would just be the universe razzing me about my writing talent, or lack thereof.

(And considering the script in that envelope centered around a frustrated doofus romantically involved with his fitness tracker, I’m not sure I could adequately refute the universe’s mockery.

Well. Not in writing, apparently, anyway.)

So I smiled at mortified mailman guy, held out my hand and said, “Great, thanks!

He wasn’t quite done looking horrified, but he dug out the money and handed over the Spare Change of the Beast, regardless. And he looked at my package with a new sense of “just what the hell is in that thing, anyway, mister?

I thought about joking with my new Beelzebuddy over the situation. Maybe a “hey, keep that away from any flammable letters” or “don’t take any wooden brimstones, pal“. But I didn’t. He didn’t really seem in the mood.

And also, “postal” worker. There’s always the chance, right?

So I took my cursed cash, and wandered down the street for lunch where I combined it with a couple of presumably less-unholy dollars to buy a burrito that was only mostly damned. Mostly damned tasty.

And I have no doubt that our script — unholy as it definitely is — made its way uneventfully to its destination, without causing any gnashing of teeth or self-flagellation or plagues of carrier turtles poxing anyone’s doorstep.

Which is not to say that script will necessarily get into the contest. Oh my word, no. But that’s solely at the feet of our ability to tell an entertaining dick joke involving a wristband computer in five pages or less. As opposed to some sort of demonic literary critiquing force bedeviling the manuscript.

I can do that all by myself.

Just ask the universe.

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