Thursday, August 07, 2008

Peter Pawn and Clara Clucker

I am not a morning person. But for someone who values sleeping in, who has no need to rise before the sun and who rarely goes to bed before 11 p.m., I find myself wide awake at 5 a.m. all too often. In my head will be a story angle, the beginning, middle or end of an as yet unwritten book… an urge to commit something to writing. There is usually no peace until I get it out of my head.

And still, I resist. I am not a morning person.

I own two computers. My MacBook Pro is a little less than two years old. It resides in my home office; it goes to work with me; and very soon it will be my constant companion at school. My other machine, a slightly older 12-inch Apple iBook G4, was my primary computer before the MacBook Pro came along. I don’t have a TV in my bedroom, but my G4 serves a similar purpose. Unlike a TV, however, it can receive as well as transmit. When the urge to write strikes at 5 a.m., the means is a short reach away.

In my experience, some of my clearest thoughts come to me in the wee, pre-dawn hours. Perhaps the hustle and bustle of modern life hasn’t had a chance to pollute them yet. Maybe my freshly rested (or exercised?) brain is more active at 5 a.m. I guess the scientists probably have a theory, but the fact remains that some of my best work comes when I’d much rather be sleeping. I never intentionally wake up this early to write, yet that’s exactly what happens – or would happen if I quit fighting it – all too frequently.

This morning I woke to the memory of Peter Pawn and Clara Clucker. Who's Peter Pawn and Clara Clucker? Well, they’re not real people. In fact, they are not people at all. Peter Pawn is, or was, a pawn. Not a pawn in the metaphoric sense; he was a real pawn – and not a fancy one either. Some pawns come from marble chess sets or are made of some kind of metal or cut glass, but not Peter. He came from a cheap plastic chess set. We don’t know what ever became of the rest of Peter’s family – either side.

Clara Clucker was a chicken. Like Peter, she was not a real chicken and unlike Peter, she was not a pawn. Well maybe a pawn in the metaphoric sense, but we need not make this that complicated. Clara was a little rubber chicken. At about 2 ½ inches tall, she towered over Peter - who was, after all, only a pawn. Peter and Clara lived in a yellow 1974 Mercury Capri that belonged to my dear friend Michelle Jacobson.

Hanging out on the dashboard of a Mercury Capri might sound like an ideal way for two inanimate objects to wile away the hours. For Clara, it probably was. With a larger stature and being made of rubber, she was far more sure-footed than Peter. Every time Michelle took a turn, stepped on the gas or suddenly stopped, Peter fell down to our feet and got lost. Fortunately for Peter, the ’74 Capri came equipped with a dashboard-mounted light that could be swiveled out and aimed so that when Peter got lost, we could find him again. The light had a name – of course. It was the “Peter Pawn Finder Light.”

I haven’t seen Peter or Clara since sometime in late 1981. Michelle and I graduated from our respective and neighboring high schools earlier that year. Although naming a pawn and a rubber chicken might sound somewhat childish, at just 18 years old… we still were children, really. She was a very smart cookie, much smarter than I. She was enrolled at Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo and was studying agriculture – she always wanted to help people. In the spring 0f 1982 she was in the back seat of a car that was hit by a drunk driver. She was the only one in the accident that was even hurt - and she never stood a chance.

In my 18 plus years up to that point in my life, death had never struck so close to home. We were very close – not lovers, but friends. I didn’t know how to deal with it then and perhaps I still don’t. I can only imagine what ever became of Peter and Clara. Peter – and Clara, too, must truly be lost. And I don’t think there is a finder light that bright.

There is no moral to this story.

It has no point; not all stories need one.

6:16 a.m., 7 August 2008


kenju said...

Aw, that's a sad one, Michael.

Michael K. Althouse said...

I know Judy... Life sometimes is.

It's funny, sort of. I haven't thought about Peter Pawn or Clara Clucker in many years - although I think of Michelle quite often.

Anonymous said...

I would have wanted a Peter Pawn Finder light in 1981. Thank you Mike. I will introduce you to Captain Cluck when I see you next. Jody and I already talked about bringing him to your house for very different reasons. Fate? We will see.

Snaggle Tooth said...

From that friend you took a lesson about finding fun n creativity in the very little things with you.
The moral is implied-

Bobkat said...

That's exactly the sort of things that pop into my head last thing at night when I'm trying to get to sleep, or early in the morning. I sometimes wonder why my subconscious has chosen to rifle through my memories and show me this little tidbits.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

A good story there, Mr A

Michele sent me

Teena in Toronto said...

I'm sooooooooooooo not a morning person.

Thanks for visiting.

Anonymous said...

Michele sent me to read about your friend Michelle...sad story, Mr. leaves a bitter taste. And a smile thinking of Peter and Clara.
Have a great week.

Man Named Kim said...

your re-collection, re-membering of this gives beauty to the saddness.

thanks for this.

theaddict said...

"In my experience, some of my clearest thoughts come to me in the wee, pre-dawn hours"

So do mine. At precisely 6:24 every morning lit up like the sky I am high with knowleged and inspiration.

Too bad it evaporates.

WooleyBugger said...

I don't think people fully understand how others touch our lives. Maybe you don't think about it much but your friend was part of the thread that makes up your being. Funny little things you both did, talks you had that only felt comfortable speaking to her about-need I go on? The moral is what her life was to you and memories to keep forever.

In memory of loved ones lost, to help us deal with loss, we send up a ballon to the skies in the same way doves are released to carry spirits to heaven. Ballons are cheaper but the same feelings of being able to say goodbye still works.