Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hall-ing Ian around

Mrs. H. likes to watch something lighthearted while she works on the treadmill to keep from brooding, but a random thought caused her brow to furrow, and she sought solace in a question.
“Dear, what about Ian? What do you see in his future?” she said above the din.
“The Marines are calling him,” was Mr. H’s reply.
“I suppose you’re right. He seems hell-bent on that. Studying war heroes here, memorizing weaponry stats there; it does fill his hours….”
“No, I mean right now. Sergeant Bull is on the phone. The Marines are calling for Ian.”
“Oh!” She pressed the stop button and slid into the back wall.
“He’ll be there,” said Mr. H. and hung up. “The sergeant is giving Ian a chance to work out with the new recruits this evening. This should be quite informative for him.” And so it was decided they would take Ian out that evening.

At five-twenty, the big black car scooped up the young lad and headed west. Master Ian had been unusually quiet the ride out to Auburn, and viewed the entire event with dark suspicion. When they arrived, Mrs. H. steered him into a waiting room with several other youths and a burly man in athletic clothes and a buzz cut. Ian’s reluctance was tangible, but the buzz cut grabbed his arm and said, “You can have him back at 7:30!” Mrs. H. knew a cue when she heard one, beat a hasty retreat, exited stage left, and hopped into the waiting vehicle.
“What could we possibly do for an hour and a half in Auburn?” She had no sooner gotten the words out of his mouth, when they chimed out in tandem: “Swaby’s!”

On the days that Tony, the burial vault salesman, came in, after the business talk was over, the conversation would turn to lighter subjects; and it was at such a time that Tony had let drop that not only was he a salesman, but he was also an entrepreneur, and the proud owner of a little establishment known as Swaby’s Kangaroo Court. The name of SWABY had been chiseled deeply into the stone edifice more than a hundred long years before Tony came on the scene, but he had purchased the building and the museum of relics and oddities that came with it, and made it his own. Tony, it seems, had taken to heart the principle of hometown boosterism; a fine principle in theory, except that the only thing Auburn is noted for is the nearby penitentiary. Swaby’s is a veritable treasure trove of Auburn’s prison memorabilia, from the countless mug shots of feckless felons (some who were captured and many who flew the coop) to an actual electric chair that was used at the prison. A fair amount of celebrities graced the area back in the theatre district’s heyday, and there are plenty of letters from show people and politicians as well. Mrs. Hall’s favorite perch is located directly under the signed portrait of Ronald Colman, and she has often remarked should the picture come up missing, the first place they should suspect is her handbag. An hour and a half was just enough time to eat, drink and read some of the walls.

At 7:30 promptly, the big black car rolled around the corner, and Master Ian hopped in. “We had a great time! We ran to cadences, but I can’t tell you most of them, Mom. Then the sergeant ripped on this guy who had gotten some tattoos, but I can’t really tell you what he said, or what the tattoo was…but, after that, we all worked out some more and then, it was time to go home!” Master Ian fell into the back seat of the car exhausted and happy, while Mr. H. just shook his head, set her on auto-pilot and headed home.

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