Becoming a Distinguished Historical Figure

The keyboard is a loose cannon…everything is fair game.

* * *

It begins as one of those days when the air feels electric, and you want to jump out of your skin. You can’t put your finger on it, but you know something’s brewing.

I hear him before I see him, Ace Blackbanks. “You there?” he shouts. “I’m coming up.” He doesn’t wait for answer. So much for an open-door policy.

He pitches a WSJ across my desk. “Look at this headline.” His voice is urgent. I glance at it. “Communist Party Designates Xi as a Historical Figure.”

“You going to China? Have you forgotten you’re on Homeland’s no-fly list since that episode with the TSA agent when his too-friendly fingers frisked you?”

 “He shouldn’t have asked for my phone number. Forget China. I’m wondering what it takes to become a historical person.”

“More than you have, Ace. You have to be qualified. Says here the communist party passed a resolution awarding him this distinction. He’s been ‘credentialled,’ so to speak. This might be a problem for you.”

“That’s why I need your help. You know weird people. Give me some examples to follow. I want become a historical person.”

“You’re already a hysterical person, Ace, ask anybody.”

“Historical, man, historical.”

“Ok, but who’s going to credential you, the Fraternal Order of the Bloated Moose? Will the boys at the Am Vets club issue a proclamation? All night poker games don’t count. What have you done that’s notable?”

“Well, I got baptized once, does that count?”

“Will the preacher vouch for whether or not it worked?”

“Guess not. He’s dead.”

“Looks like you’re out of luck there. How about the NRA, will they issue a resolution? Guns have made many people historical figures.”

“Get serious. Any ideas?”

“Well, there was a fellow who achieved historical figure distinction in my hometown many years ago. They still celebrate his legacy.

“How did he do it?”

“It’s a long story”

“Let’s hear it.”

“They called him Nub. Not his given name, a nickname. Everybody had nicknames. He got his because of an accident. He was working at the sawmill and a buzz saw severed his hand. He chased it down the conveyor belt and it fell into a pile of sawdust. He dug it out, dusted it off, shoved it in his pocket and headed to Dr. Jimmy’s office.

Dr.  Jimmy had just put away the bloody claw hammer used to extract a nail from Roy’s knee. His wife had hammered it in while he was sleeping it off.”

“For real? She hammered a nail into his knee? What kind of person does that?”

“A scorned one. Word was Roy was prone to ramble at night, and she got tired of it, folks whispering and gossiping behind her back, so she took a ten-penny nail and stopped it.”

“That’s extreme.”

“Yes, but efficient. Look, there are nice women everywhere who rub their fingers over the edges of a knife at night and eye their husband’s neck. Remember, ‘uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,’ or runs around.”

“What about Nub?”

“Dr. Jimmy couldn’t save his hand. He sawed Nub’s forearm off at the wrist. That’s why they called him Nub. He kept his hand in a pickle jar filled with white corn brew for preservation. But this is where it gets strange.

One night Nub was at an all-night gospel sing at a tent revival when he heard Jesus blow the heavenly bugle, and he crossed that golden gate to paradise.  When he returned, he was a changed man. And from then on, the fingers on Nub’s severed hand in the pickle jar began to move.

Nub swore it was the healing power from on High sent to manifest itself in his hand. Everywhere he took his hand with the moving fingers in the pickle jar people heard the bugle call and crossed the golden bridge to the promised land. Lives were changed, and so was the town.

When Nub died, his hand with the moving fingers was buried with him. The town passed a resolution designating Nub a distinguished historical person for all the good work his severed hand did for the town.  A marble replica of his hand was erected on the courthouse square. People come to pay homage to it. They all hear the same bugle call. It put the city on the map of historical places.”

“You made this up.”

I laugh. “Maybe. But so what? Whether it’s the idiotic ramblings of an itinerant madman or oracles of sober reality, we come with nothing, but we all leave something behind.”

 * * *

You want to be a historical person? Just buy the ticket, take the ride. Time will credential us all.


Bud Hearn

December 3, 2021