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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!

A Honkey On My Back

I had a busy week last week, with another jam-packed dance card looming this week. If I’m really honest, I’m perhaps trying to do too much — at least, for a man of my age.

(Of course for most men my age, sitting upright and breathing at the same time is taxing enough. So by those standards, I’ve gone way overboard. And possibly gotten sucked up into the propellers.

I’m like the witless lost manatee of my generation. An analogy which gets more accurate with every passing day, it seems.)

What I’ve been doing to wear myself out is not important, especially. Suffice it to say that in the wearing-out department, I’ve done a particularly thorough job. I’ve been sitting here on my couch this evening, savoring the next-to-nothing I’ve been doing all night and relishing the thought of an early bedtime and eight (or more) solid hours of dreamland bliss.

Then a funny thing happened on the way to me drooling on my pillow.

“Either this car was being hijacked by a very persistent — but ridiculously inept — thief, or the alarm was set sensitively enough to consider nearby cricket farts as an imminent security threat.”

Not ‘funny, ha-ha’, mind you. More like ‘funny HENH HENH HENH HENH HENH…’

Because that’s the noise some car alarm started making quite loudly about half an hour ago, not far from my sleeproom window. I hadn’t hit the sack yet — not quite — but if that racket continued, peaceful shuteye would definitely be off the table. That racket would wake the dead. And then force the dead to put on their voodoo zombie slippers and robe and claw out of the mausoleum to see what the hell all the ruckus was about.

(Which is basically what I did, come to think of it. Only I’m not a zombie.

I’m the manatee, remember? Coo coo ca choo.)

So this alarm started bleating at around a quarter til eleven. I checked it out — to make sure it wasn’t my car, heavens forbid for a variety of reasons — and it was some compact number parked just around the corner. It had been going off for maybe two minutes when I got out there, continued unabated while I zeroed in on it, and kept hard at it while I moseyed back inside and considered whether shrimp cocktail forks would make effective impromptu earplugs.

A minute or two later, and it stopped. Blessed silence blanketed our fair neighborhood. We could all relax, consider hitting the sack, and save the crustacean cutlery for our next appetizer cocktail.



Thirty seconds later, it started up again. Either this car was being hijacked by a very persistent — but ridiculously inept — thief, or the alarm was set sensitively enough to consider nearby cricket farts as an imminent security threat. I didn’t care which. I just wanted the damned thing to stop yammering before it was time to pass out for the night. I could probably manage to get to sleep through that, but then I’d dream of fire alarms and air raid sirens and long Fran Drescher interviews. Not what I’d call ‘restful’ sleeping.

It was another good two minutes or more before the car piped down. And thirty sweet seconds of peace before it fired up again. Or sort-of fired up again. It became clear that whatever noisemaking honker used to sound the car’s alarm wasn’t intended for such long-term use, and it was starting to feel the strain:


This cycle happened another time or two — couple of minutes on, few seconds off, and then the quack was back, each time a little sadly wheezier. Until the fifth or sixth movement of this automotive symphony, when another funny thing happened:


The horn was getting louder. I wasn’t quite sure how, unless some bastard had gone and fitted the hood with a microphone or something. If it was moving, I hadn’t heard the engine start, nor a tow truck lumber in to save us all. And anyway, has a wrecker ever arrived at the scene of a call in less than three hours? That didn’t seem possible. Yet here was this honking nightmare, steadily rising in volume like an insistent ‘Telltale Honda’ bent on driving me batshit.

As I huddled on the couch, terrified that this car-beast would somehow find its way through our front door and snuggle in next to me in the sack, the pattern changed again. As quickly as it had reached a crescendo, the noise slowly faded into the night:


And just like that, it was gone. I don’t know how or why it closed in, or where it limped off to, or what in the world set it off in the first place. I only know that this was the most commotion caused by one shitbox car since somebody did donuts in a hybrid around the Exxon parking lot.

(Which probably never actually happened. But it’s fun to think about, anyway.)

And now — after the twenty minutes of drama, and another twenty or more to document the beeping for posterity — I’m going to bed. By which I mean, straight to sleep. I’ve had plenty enough horning for one night already, thanks.

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