The epiphany came to me slowly over the course of weeks the same way one becomes not too quickly aware that the rest of the world despises one. No one goes up to the hated and says, "You know, we've all been thinking, and by all I mean, well, all, that you are of no worth whatsoever." That would save a lot of time, but I am of the opinion that folks are just not very interested in saving time anymore. Instead, the ill regarded go about thinking they are fine and dandy until bit by bit, hints build up to a sort of grand solution like in those Sherlock Holmes stories by the great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that ultimately spells out what everyone thinks of them. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, the ugly things keep running about making life difficult for the rest of us, quieter, gentler types. Especially those of us that are pipe smokers. 

So this epiphany of mine came to a boil in a parking lot. A fellow was walking in front of my car heading into one of these large home stores, where you buy lumber or pesticides or doors or plants or plumbing or just about anything you can think of that you could use in, out or around a hovel, when out loud I said, "Dejá vu." I said this because it seemed, I had seen this man in this spot almost exactly before. He had the same, poofy on top haircut, which was trimmed conservatively in the back, but left fluffy and cottonesque on top. I was even smoking the same Ardor chubby billiard. Very perplexing. He also had some spectacles which I thought were much too heavy and black and had much too much lens to them to be of any use except when worn by a comedian on stage playing the part of a chap like this. All in all, green shorts and yellow shirt included, this chap was a sight for sore eyes. 

Then it hit me, this was no dejá vu. I had seen this fellow before. He may have been wearing some other colored shorts and some other colored shirt, but the hair and the glasses, I have no doubt that those startling two items in tandem, I have seen before, more than once. As a matter of fact, it was in this parking lot, and he was going into the same very store, and I was right here, in this car, awaiting for him to cross. I remember his crossing each time did not take long. The fellow practically sped across the lane and dashed into the home store. He was eager. It just so happens that I drive through this parking lot around the same time each day after work, to, somewhat illegally, avoid an extra lengthy stop light. It seems I've been catching this fellow on his routine of getting into the home store as quickly as possible. More quickly,even, than the time it takes yours truly to be announced first loser of a slow smoking contest. I have reason to believe my inability to do well in this area stems from an over eagerness well established when I was but a child, alas, I digress. 

It all had the feeling of something wrong. Something was rotten in Sweden, or was it Germany? Well, somewhere in some country, something had gone sour and I was going to find out what kind of ill was afoot. I don't care who you are or even if you don't know how to set a dinner table properly or know the correct fork with which to eat your salad, you do not repeatedly go running into the same store on a regular basis unless there is something up. I had my suspicions. These large super selling places were owned by corporations who did their best to keep you coming back. Obviously, they were doing it very well where this chap was concerned. Too well, I thought. Exposure of truth, which is really what I am all about to my very core, was necessary. Very inconspicuously, I parked my car and stowed my Italian chimney. 

You see, what I saw in this man was something that hit home as, not two years earlier, I was in his very position. When I, Karl E. Stanwell, first found the funding to acquire Stanwell House, that is what I call my lovely little shack, I went by one of these massive home stores to see what one might need to be a proper home owner. I've seen fellows on pharmaceuticals rush back to their source less than I was frequenting the joint. I never wanted to stop going back and looking through the aisles to see all of those things that I absolutely needed for the well being of my home. Work, however, picked up considerably and inadvertently saved me. After I had been absent from the home store for a week, the need to return had gone. I was, as it were, cured. I'm afraid this fellow I've seen breaking short distance running records from parking lot to entrance, is in the throes of the glamour and cannot shake the thing. I must assist. 

The paint section. This would be my first stop. It was clear to me that if the air inside the home store was filled with gasses and particles that affected one's mind, that a mask would be in order. I calmly and slowly got out of my car, looked around the parking lot to see if there lurked anyone suspicious, then began for the entrance. Just before entering I feigned a coughing spell in order to cover my mouth and nose with my Harris Tweed coated forearm to keep out any mind altering chemicals until I could reach the paint section. I had to do a good bit of coughing mixed with acting to pull this off as they had moved the paint section to the far end of the store. This I found blatantly curious. 

Once in the paint section I secured a white cloth mask and put it on immediately. I felt somewhat safe until, a few steps more I saw the polycarbonate and rubber device with self sealing gaskets. Here, I thought, was a mask. Quickly, or at least, as quick as anyone without a pocket knife could, I produced the device and changed out my substandard piece of cloth donned with rubber band, for this new, serious, purple and black fortress for the face. Now I was ready to observe. 

I paced the ends of the aisles looking first up at the ceilings for signs of gas putter-outers and then down each lane for the poor soul I had seen running in earlier. It seems they conceal these fume makers incredibly well, but then again, they probably have a team of professionals working on these things around the grandfather, if you get my drift. It was not until I happened across the drywall and bagged concrete section that I found him. He was still, and staring like an audience victim looking into the eyes of a great mesmerizer, and by mesmerizer I mean those fellows that could put one into a trance, rather than The Great Mesmer himself. Franz Anton Mesmer (born May 23, 1734) was a unique kind of physician with a background in the medical field. His branching off and use of new techniques for curing the ills of many with magnetism caused great speculation. As time is want to do, the memory of this incredible man was contorted not unlike a good many circus performers I saw when I was a child, to the point that his name became synonymous with putting a fellow in a trance like state, off handedly nowadays put, Mesmerizing. 

I must have stood at the end of the aisle for a good three minutes, watching this poor tortured man staring up at the sheets of drywall. It was like some sort of western cowboy standoff shootout, only without guns and a bit more awkward as one fellow was overly occupied with drywall than his opponent's deadly stare. When I realized that all of this contemplation of western standoffs had, to my surprise, separated my feet into a shootout kind of stance and lifted my hands up and out until they were floating a good 20 centimeters away from my corduroy pockets, I quickly went back to a sort of regular shopper kind of look, at least, as regular as one can look in a home store with a purple and black chemical mask clinched to his noggin while wearing his Harris Tweed and corduroys. 

Just then, I did the daring thing. I walked straight up to fellow. It did wonders too. My approach somehow snapped him out of it, and I was ecstatic. I imagined I would have to do some real work to bring him down to a regular state prior to explaining to him what a mess he was up against. But here the fellow turned to me and widened his eyes significantly. All this walking about with a mask on had gotten the face to sweat and the front see through shield of my mask had begun to fog considerably. I began to speak to him and as I did, it fogged even more. I had gotten out, "Sir, I know you are probably not completely with us at the moment, but there is something you must know," before my vision was completely impaired. I could not see the man in front of me, nor the drywall, nor the bags of concrete, nor anything! 

I had to come up with something, and fast. As I am known in many circles for being quick on my feet, I did what came natural, I changed course to a similarly ingenious path. "Sir, follow me please." I said. I then grasped for the fellow's arm knowing how sometimes folks in his state of being are not always completely aware of what is going on around them. Finding the arm, I called upon my far above average memory to lead us out of this den of iniquity. I felt some considerable resistance, and even a few swats from the chap, but in the end, it would be for his own good. His voice sounded with high pitched, almost womanly protestation as we rounded a corner that I recalled from earlier and slammed into some sort of display. From the sound of the items falling, I discerned that it was a battery display that had gotten the better of us. I am incredibly adept at hearing a thing and figuring out what the deuce it is, even without the help of my keen vision. 

I knew that there was no stopping now. As blind as I was, I had to go on. I knew that certainly soon, some sort of security would be upon us, and goodness knows what lengths they would go to in order to keep fellows as cunning as me, away from their home necessity junkies. Thanks to my quick feet and incredible intuition, we were finally out of doors. I started in with, "Like I was saying old friend..." when I pulled the blinding, not to mention now steaming, hot mask off of my drenched face to see that what else but some woman, standing there in front of me. No poofy topped hair, no green shorts, no yellow shirt, and certainly no overwhelmingly large black framed glasses! 

Not only was she standing in front of me with a raised fist and audible accusations, but she also had her arm firmly within my grip. These home store fellows were keener than I thought. She was a very handsome looking woman with the kind of outfit that accentuates as it reveals if you follow. This was their way. A smoke and mirrors kind of trick. The jig was up and they replaced my fellow with no doubt one of their own security 
specialists. Immediately, seeing her for what she was, only in plain clothes, I said, "You! I know what you are, and to be frank about it, you madam, disgust me!" This was apparently the cue she was waiting for to give me a sock in the right eye. 

About a half hour later, I came to. I was not so elegantly propped up in a hard wooden chair in the corner of an old police house. Only one of my eyes had complete function, the other would take its time coming back around to its previous size and color. I still had the purple and black chemical mask around my neck, which was now fashionably matching my abused peeper, and when the attendant saw that I was awake to the world, he began to ask me a series of questions. 

Well, only the weak in the head would not know to cover the truth in this situation. Who knew where the home store conglomerate's power began and ended? It was best to play the fool, spend a spell in the hoosegow and resume my investigations at a later date. This, my friend, is exactly what I did. And while I have not completely cracked the case to date. Things are surfacing , and a silly little notion like a restraining order will hamper further investigations not at all. 

—Olie Sylvester 
Baron, International Oom Paul Society of Non-Typicals

AuthorOlie Sylvester