Summary: A wee Irish offering about Time and how it works

The 4th Wise Guy (A story of Time at Christmas)

Gentle Reader,

With the season so close and with me not a place to preach, nor a home to call my own. I find I have a lot of time on my hands (so to speak) It's starting to get cold here and Marti wants me to purchase a new winter coat [I really wanted to get a train set] What I want money can't buy.... but that's another time. What I wanted to say is that with all this time I get to read a bit more ( just for the sheer enjoyment which I intend to share). I know, I know its the last few hours of prime time shopping and you haven't gotten Uncle Shamus and Aunt Tody anything. My advice re-gift! How about that 12 year old fruitcake that your using as a doorstop in the winter and as third base in the summer?

Well come in and sit, I'll wet some tea and we'll share a story that will entertain you and perhaps give you some last minute ideas . Ready? Ok. hold on here she blows....

“The 4th Wise Guy”

I was miles from anywhere when I first saw him. He was walking at the side of the road, gas can in hand, and I assumed that he'd run out of fuel somewhere. I didn't remember passing any stranded cars on the road but figured he could have broken down on a side road. Anyone would have stopped to give him a ride.

Because I had one of those mental debates while deciding whether or not to stop, the car was quite a distance ahead of him when I brought it to a halt. I watched in the mirror as he approached. He was in no hurry, it seemed, just ambling along as though out for a stroll. When he came level with the passenger window, I leaned over and called out to him.

"D'you need a ride to the next gas station, pal?"

He stopped and leaned over so that he could see my face.

"Actually, Denis, I was hoping you'd take me all the way to Akron."

I swear I'd never set eyes on the guy in my life before. How could he know my name? And the fact that I was driving to Akron? I was too dumbfounded to say anything in reply and just watched while he opened the door to get into the car. As he sat down, he threw the gas can into the bushes.

"Aren't you gonna need that?" I asked.

"Oh no, I was only carrying it so you'd take pity on me and stop," he replied. "Bought it at that gas station where you're going to drop me off. But you wouldn't have seen that, of course. You were gone by then."

This was becoming confusing. Was he claiming to have met me before or was he some kind of lunatic with wild delusions?

"Pardon?" I said. "Have we met before or something?"

"Yes and no, Denis. Look, it's complicated. Why don't you get this thing moving and I'll explain as we go, okay?"

I realized then that he was right. If he was a madman, the sooner I got him to where he wanted to go, the better. He didn't look dangerous or anything, in his early twenties but slightly built and pale, as if he'd been locked away out of the sunlight. I could easily win any tussle with him, I figured. So he wanted to talk in riddles? That was fine; it might be amusing and help the journey to go that much faster. I eased the stick into Drive and let the car move off.

"How d'you know my name?" I asked as we reached the speed limit and I hit the cruise control.

"You told me," he replied. When I said nothing but raised one eyebrow a little, he continued, "I'd better explain from the beginning. As I said before... Oh, you won't remember that, of course. Fact is, Denis, I'm living backwards."

A dim memory sparked in my brain. "You mean like Merlin? I read a book once by T.H. White about him. Called The Once and future King, I think. Anyway, it was about King Arthur and all that but I remember Merlin was supposed to be living backwards in it. Is that what you mean?"

"Exactly," he said.

I waited for him to go on but he said no more; just sat there watching my reaction to his ridiculous statement. So I gave him none.

"Am I supposed to believe that?" I asked. "It's a pretty freaky thing to say, you know."

He laughed. "Yup, it's weird alright. Most people would be driving me to the loony bin by now. But that's why I chose you. You're going to believe me by the time we get to Akron."

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