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The Cameron Column # 93

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>From the, " World Going to Hell in a Handbasket Department"

We've received survey responses indicating we're now read in 56 countries,
nearly all the USA states, and two of the moons of Jupiter.  Our highly
trained Cameron Technical Team is busily tabulating the results of our
"Where Are You" survey.  Well okay, it's being done by my daughter, who
somehow regards the project as punishment.  I have no idea when it will be
finished, but when it is, I will post it to the web site.  Meanwhile, if
you'd still like to be included, please send your city, state or province,
and country of residence as the first line of a message to

Directly to the Mailbox
Copyright 1999 W. Bruce Cameron http://www.wbrucecameron.com/

=====>  Please do not remove the copyright from this essay! <====

Someone once asked me, "if you could be any person in the world, who would
it be?"  To which I responded without hesitation, "my eleven-year-old son." 

My boy's life is one where the less pleasant elements of reality rarely
intrude.  His eyes unfocused, his mouth emitting sound effects, he drifts
around in serene oblivion, almost never concerned about anything.

Last Saturday I interrupted his reverie and asked him to check to see if
the mail had arrived.  He responded agreeably enough, though it took
several reminders before he actually was out the door.  I went to the
window to observe his progress.  He made a strong start, striding
purposefully toward the mailbox at the end of our driveway.  Then something
caught his eye and he stopped, frowning.  He bent over and picked it up:  a
stick.  It fit into his hand like a Colt pistol, and he swiveled, eyeing
the trees for enemies.  He spotted a couple and dove for cover, firing as
he rolled.  Airplanes swooped down and he switched to ground-to-air mode,
jubilating when the missiles hit their targets.  He spoke into his radio
and did something to his forehead, probably putting on his night vision
goggles.  I lost sight of him as he snaked around the corner of the house.

Half an hour later he tromped in, exuberant over his military victory.  I
stopped him in the hallway.  "Did you get the mail?"

He stared at me blankly, and I wondered whether he even knew who I was.
"You were going out to get the mail," I reminded him.

His focus cleared.  "Oh, yeah."  

"Did you get it?"

His expression indicated he wasn't sure.

"Why don't you try again," I suggested.

Back out the door.  I winced as he glanced at a tree branch, but he didn't
appear tempted.  His eyes acquired radar lock on the mailbox, and I sighed
in relief.

Lying next to the mailbox was a football which had drifted there at the end
of a neighborhood game a few weeks ago.  He scooped the ball up in his arms
and swerved, dodging tackles.  Touchdown!  I put my hands on my hips and
watched him toss the ball into the air, calling for a fair catch.  First
down.  He took the ball, fading back, out of the pocket and in trouble.  I
shook my head as I was treated to the spectacle of my son sacking himself
for an eight-yard loss.  He jumped up and shook his finger, urging his
blockers to stop the blitz.  They seemed to heed his admonitions>on the
next play he rolled left and threw right, a fantastic pass which found him
wide open thirty yards downfield.  He trotted into the end zone and gave
the crowd a mile-high salute.  

When I checked back at half-time to see who was winning, mankind was on the
brink.  The football was jammed up inside his shirt, and he was struggling
forward on his knees, looking like a soldier crawling through the desert.
He had pulled the lawn mower out of the garage, and as he fell toward it,
gasping, he pulled the sacred pigskin from his shirt and, with the last
reserves of his strength, touched it to the engine.  He died, but
civilization was saved by his heroic efforts.  

No word on whether, with this triumph, mail would be delivered.

I met him at the door, pierced through his fog, and asked him to get the
mail.  He agreed in such as fashion as to indicate this was the first he'd
heard of the subject.  There was a skip in his step as he headed down he
driveway, and he was making so much progress so quickly I felt my hopes
growing, particularly when he reached out and actually touched the mailbox.

Alas, he was only stopping to talk to it.  Conferring in low tones, he
nodded, squinting into the distance.  He raised the mail flag, igniting the
retrorockets strapped to his back.  He throttled to full power and then
dropped the flag, firing off into space with his arms outstretched like

He was nowhere in sight when, half an hour later, I went out to get the mail.

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