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COLUMN: Dearest Duck is wondering if Harold Walters is getting too creepy to live with

“Harry, my disconcerting love,” said Dearest Duck, “you’ll soon be too creepy to live with.”

Harold N. Walters

B’ys, can you imagine Dearest Duck, the favourite volume in my bookshelf, saying such a thing to me?

“Why, my Duck?” said I, “Just because in nineteen-eighty-nine I finished reading a book in Petley?”

“Not so much that you finished a book in Petley, but why you remember it today.”

There’s a tale to tell, eh b’ys?

Yet, said tale requires backpedalling.

With more frequency than is comfortable, since this new century has begun inexplicable singularities have been happening to me.

For instance: All alone in the house I was playing ‘puter, plugging away at the keyboard, deliriously happy that the words were flowing, when … for no explicable reason a penny fell from thin air and conked me on the noggin.


Later that same day, I heard for the first time that The Government, in its infinite wisdom, intended to curtail coppers.

“That’s creepy,” said Dearest Duck when I told her.

Another time: It was August. I was taking a constitutional dodge on a back road near our house, wondering about what I might scribble as a Christmas story for Downhome magazine.

I rounded a turn and spotted a patch of red something-or-other tangled in some shrubbery a dozen dicky-straddles up the road.

When I reached the spot my heart seized, my knees buckled, and only the booga-stick I was using as a cane prevented me from falling face first in the gravel.

Santa Claus was snarled up in the bushes.

Lies for me.

It wasn’t really Santa Claus, but a stuffed toy Santa all decked out for Christmas in a blood red Santa suit, soot-black boots, a buckled black belt the width of a girdle, and a pull-chord inviting me to give a tug for a Christmas greeting.

“That’s creepy,” said Dearest Duck when I told her.

And so on, and so on…

On March 29, 1989 — 1989 for frig sake! — a Saturday when I was 41 years old, I finished reading a book at Mammy’s house in Petley, Random Island, the site of king-granted Walters’ homeland.

An aside: You might think me weird, but ever since Noah built his boat when I finish reading a book I initial the page corresponding to my age at the time — kinda like those folk who spray graffiti on cliffs, I s’pose. Sometimes I note the time of day, the date, the setting, even the colour of the sky.

No doubt that’s what I did one Saturday morning in March, 1989.

“That’s bizarre,” said Dearest Duck when she’d first learned about my — in her endearing terms — idiot-syncrasy.

Often when I’m done with books, I release them into the wild via used book stores, rummage sales and such. Although I don’t set free every book, fancy the number I have released since loaning out the copy of Huckleberry Finn I once found in a barrel among abandoned pairs of leather boots in 19 … nevermind.

More than a hundred, I ‘low, eh b’ys?

Books and boots aside, I’m still on track.

Recently, I was with Dearest Duck and two of our granddaughters, at the Trinity-Conception Square in the land where buffalo roam. Dearest Duck was returning a couple of dresses she’d decided weren’t suitable for summer weddings.

“It would help,” said Dearest Duck, “if you’d take the girls for a Slurpee.”

Ten minutes later, trailing a pair of slurping little girls, I spotted the tables of a Used Books sale.

While the youngsters slurped some green concoction resembling motor coolant, I picked over the books and ended up with half-a-dozen jammed in a Dominion bag, and girls in tow, went in search of Dearest Duck.

Back at home, I selected a hard-covered novel from the Dominion shopping bag and commenced reading — The Dancing Chicken, by Susan Musgrave.

When I reached page 41 my heart seized exactly as it had some years ago when I encountered Santa Claus snarled up in a spider web of alders.

This is what I read along with my initials on page 41 of The Dancing Chicken:




7:32 AM



“Harry,” said Dearest Duck when I told her, “you’ll soon be too creepy to live with.”

Postscript: By the way, I brought stuffed Santa home, but I’ve not yet pulled his chord for fear he’ll say, “Ho-Ho-Ho, Merry Christmas, Harry.”

Thank you for reading.

— Harold Walters lives Happily Ever After in Dunville, in the only Canadian province with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at


TUESDAY, JULY 1st, 2014

7:40 AM


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