The Curse of Gary (Part 103)

As Victor stared in wonder at the grey-haired gentlemen before him (who had appeared to him the previous night as a child), a smile stretched out across his face. He leaned back in his chair. “What the… I mean… look at you. What happened?”

Gary shrugged. “I just thought I’d make myself older.”

“Wait. You did this yourself?”

Gary nodded, and let slip the hint of a smile. Victor shook his head. “That’s amazing,” he said. “But why?”

Wrinkles squirmed on Gary’s aged forehead as he looked down in thought. He looked back up. “Well,” he said in a voice deep and distinguished, yet as straightforward and untainted as an eleven-year-old’s, “you said the year is two thousand and nineteen. I added it up—that means I would be sixty years old.”

Victor tore off a sliver of pink bacon and nibbled on it as he thought. “Yeah. I suppose so. Sixty years old. Huh.”

“My dad used to wear suits like this,” said Gary.

Victor raised his eyebrows and nodded. “It looks good.”

Gary ran the fingertips of one hand through the wild growth hedging the side of his face. “A lot of men had sideburns when… before I died.” He looked hopefully at Victor. “Do they still wear sideburns?”

“Um… yeah, sure,” said Victor. “Yeah, sideburns are always in style. The bigger the better.” He rubbed his stubbly cheeks. “I don’t wear them myself—I can’t grow bushy chops like yours. I wish I could.”

Gary smiled shyly.

Victor put down the sliver of bacon and watched Gary, who was running his fingers over the brass buttons on his jacket. Victor sat up straight and cleared his throat. “Listen, Gary, I was thinking… Since you know all about this curse—”

Gary suddenly raised his head; there was a curious look on his face. “I remember,” he said, “they talked about going to the moon.”

“Pardon?”

“It was in all the papers. Did they ever do it?”

“You mean… did they send a man to the moon?”

“Yeah.”

Victor smiled. “Yeah, they did. Nineteen sixty-nine. First man on the moon.”

Gary’s eyes bulged and his jaw dropped. “Whoa.” His stare followed some wondrous thought into the distance and remained there a minute. His gaze returned and settled with immense gravity on Victor. “Was it the Russians?” he whispered.

Victor laughed. “No, it was two Americans.”

“Phew,” sighed Gary. “…Have you been?”

“Have I been?”

Gary nodded. “To the moon.”

“Oh. No, I haven’t been to the moon.”

Gary seemed disappointed.

“Not many people have,” said Victor. “Yeah, they sent a few missions up there, and then they kind of gave up on it. I don’t know why. I never really thought about it.”

A minute passed, with each man caught up in his thoughts. Gary wiped a tear from his eye.

“Are you all right?” asked Victor. He pushed his plate across the table. “You want some food?”

Gary shook his head. A tear rolled down his rubbery nose and dived onto his pant leg. A tiny dark spot formed on the retro powder blue as the tear sunk in. He sniffed. “I want to go home.”

©️ 2019 MILES VENISON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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