Hail and (Never) Farewell

Have you ever wondered, “What if?”  What if you could fly–not with the aid of an eighty-ton aerodynamic metal ship, but simply with the rising and falling of your arms?  What if you could travel to Mars, or Jupiter, or Venus, and, once there, discover that other forms of life, non-earthly forms of life, exist elsewhere in our solar system?  What if you could go backward in time, millions and millions of years, to a green, jungled past inhabited by monstrous flying reptiles and larger-than-life thunder lizards that we of today can scarcely imagine?



Have you ever asked?

Of course you have.  We all have.  “What if?” it can be argued, is the great creative expression, the launch pad to unforgettable stories and adventures.

One of my favorite authors, Ray Bradbury, frequently asked, “What if?”  And, in fact, he asked the very questions presented above.



The stories that resulted, masterpieces such as “Here There Be Tygers,” “The Long Rain,” and “A Sound of Thunder,” among many others, are gems of the highest order.



But there was another “What if?” question the prolific author asked . . . What if you never had to grow old?  What if you could stay forever twelve, forever young, regardless of the date printed on your birth certificate?

The resulting story, “Hail and Farewell,” is not as well known perhaps as some of Bradbury’s more recognizable tales.  But that takes nothing away from the story’s impact, power, and poignancy.



“Hail and Farewell” is about a twelve-year-old boy named Willie.  When we first meet Willie, and indeed, when anybody first meets Willie, he seems like any other twelve-year-old.  He looks twelve; he’s not inordinately big for his age–in fact, he is quite small.  If you were to walk by Willie on a street corner, you probably wouldn’t look twice–just an ordinary boy, perhaps returning home from school or strolling to a Saturday matinee or walking over to a friend’s.



But Willie is not your average, normal twelve-year-old boy–not by a long shot.  Willie is not, in actuality, twelve at all.  He is forty-three.  That’s what his records show, those are the facts.  But Willie discovered, long ago, that, in terms of outward appearance, he is forever twelve.  He cannot grow old.  He’ll never wrinkle, lose his hair, acquire the maladies and infirmities of old age.  A blessing of the highest order?  Perhaps.  But Willie also has a price to pay . . . a repeating cycle with no end.

He can never settle in, never remain.  He is a drifter, moving from town to town, school to school, state to state.  He learns of couples with no children, patiently, thoroughly researching his opportunities, trying to discover the people in whose lives he can inject some love and laughter, if only for a little while.  And then–Willie just appears.  He knocks on a door, rings a bell, and when the door opens, he introduces himself, and, if the stars are aligned, he will have found a new home, a new temporary set of parents.  He will stay with them, love them, bond with them.  But then he will need to leave.  After all, how can a boy remain twelve forever?  Classmates will mature, graduate, go on to college and careers.  Parents will gray and grow old, all while Willie stays a boy, always on the threshold of adolescence, but never quite reaching it.  So he can stay for two years, maybe three, and then he is gone . . .



Bradbury’s story essentially asks the question, “Would it be a blessing to remain forever young?  Or a curse?  Or maybe a little of both?”

Those are questions each reader must answer for him- or herself.



But there is another way each of us can remain forever twelve.  In our own way, we all have a little bit of Willie in us . . .


In The Eye-Dancers, main characters Mitchell Brant, Joe Marma, Ryan Swinton, and Marc Kuslanski are all twelve years old.  They are all also inspired by friends I knew growing up; and so, as I wrote the novel, I was, in many ways, twelve years old again.  I spent the better part of three years continually entering the minds and consciousness of my pre-teen characters, seeing the world through their eyes, hearing it, feeling it, experiencing it as a twelve-year-old might.  (Some might argue I operate that way anyway, all the time, as my default mode!  But that is a post for another day.)



It is also my hope that readers of The Eye-Dancers are able to share in that experience, too, hopping on, as it were, a literary time machine traveling back, back . . . to younger days–days that seem, sometimes, almost forgotten, like yellowed pages in a time-worn scroll.  But then, when you rediscover them, when the aroma and memories and sights and sounds and experiences flood back in, you realize–they were there the whole while, stacked in a neat pile just outside the door.

The door just needed to be opened.




“But of course he was going away,” Bradbury writes in “Hail and Farewell,” as Willie must leave another couple, and begin anew. . . . “His suitcase was packed, his shoes were shined, his hair was brushed, he had expressly washed behind his ears, and it remained only for him to go down the stairs, out the front door, and up the street to the small-town station where the train would make a stop for him alone.  Then Fox Hill, Illinois, would be left far off in his past.  And he would go on, perhaps to Iowa, perhaps to Kansas, perhaps even to California; a small boy twelve years old with a birth certificate in his valise to show he had been born forty-three years ago. . . .

“In his bureau mirror he saw a face made of June dandelions and July apples and warm summer-morning  milk.  There, as always, was his look of the angel and the innocent, which might never, in the years of his life, change.”



We are all like Willie, I think, each in our own way.  But where Willie lives in a perpetual state of comings and goings, hellos and good-byes, bonding and heartbreak, we need not have to experience his gift in such a transitory manner.

As writers, readers, dreamers, we can all say “Hail,” without the need of ever having to say, “Farewell.”



Thanks so much for reading!


“Nick of Time”–Or, a Three-Month Holiday Promotion!

In a second-season Twilight Zone episode titled “Nick of Time,” newlyweds Don and Pat Carter, on a honeymoon trip cross country to New York City, are temporarily stranded in the small town of Ridgeview, Ohio, while their car is repaired.  With several hours to kill, they enter a nondescript diner.

As they sit down at a booth, they notice a “mystic seer”–a penny fortune-telling machine.  “Ask me a Yes/No question,” the machine reads.  “One cent per question.”



Don, up for a promotion at his place of employment and obsessing over the outcome, honeymoon or no, inserts a penny and asks the machine about it.  Has he been promoted at work?  He presses down on the lever, causing the machine to jingle, and a slip of paper spits out.

“It has been decided in your favor,” the slip reads.



Don decides to make a long-distance call back home, to the office, to find out if this is really true.  It is.  He’s made it.

“And he knew,” Don says, sitting back down at the booth, pointing at the mystic seer.

Amused, he decides to ask the fortune-teller another question.  Would they really have to wait four hours for their car to be fixed?

“You may never know,” the machine responds.

Taken aback, Don asks more questions.  The answers are cryptic, threatening even, but they always fit, always make sense.  He grows more frantic, while his wife becomes concerned.  Why is he taking this thing so seriously?



The seer suggests they should remain in the diner until three o’clock.  Looking at his watch, Don sees it’s only quarter after two.

“If we don’t stay here till three, something bad will happen to us?” he asks the seer.

The machine answers, “Do you dare to find out?”



With each answer, Don’s wife grows more upset.  “Let’s go,” she says.  But Don stalls, says he hasn’t finished eating, hasn’t ordered ice cream yet.  Finally, at five minutes before three, Pat coaxes him to leave the diner.

As they walk outside and cross the street, a car nearly runs into them.  They escape unscathed, but it was a close call.  Don looks at the church tower clock across the street as soon as they reach safety.  Exactly three o’clock–just as the seer warned.

He convinces his wife to go back inside the diner.  Why is the machine so accurate?  He is determined to find out.

“You don’t really think that gizmo can foretell the future, do you?” Pat asks him once they’re back inside.

“Well, it foretold ours,” he says.



She refutes this, saying it was Don himself who provided the machine with the details.  All the seer did was churn out vague generalities.

Don asks the machine if it knows about the car that almost hit them.

“What do you think?” the ejected card reads, in response.

He then asks if it will still take four hours for their car to be fixed.

“It has already been taken care of,” the seer responds.  Not a minute later the mechanic from across the street steps inside and tell them, by a stroke of luck, the part he needed turned up, and their car is all set.

Once again, the “mystic seer” is proven to be right.



Pat is still unconvinced.  Don tells her to ask the seer a few questions.  She tries to trick the machine, asking if they’ll reach Columbus by tomorrow, even though they don’t plan on driving through Columbus at all.

In response, the seer answers, “If that’s what you really want.”

Question by question, Pat becomes more agitated, more unglued.

“It’s not possible to foretell the future, is it?” she asks.

“That’s up to you to find out,” the machine replies.

“You’re just a stupid piece of junk, aren’t you?” Pat shouts.

The seer answers, “It all depends on your point of view.”

That does it.  Pat has had it.  She tells Don they need to leave, that he can’t let this machine run his life for him.

He is torn.  The machine is predicting his future!  How can he just walk away?



His wife implores him.  She tells him he can decide his own life.  He doesn’t need some penny fortune-telling machine to decide it for him.  “I don’t want to know what’s gonna happen,” she says.  “I want us to make it happen.”  It is up to them to make the most of their lives, to determine the roads and byways they travel along.

Don understands.  He gets up, tells the seer they will go where they want to go, whenever they please.  He has been freed from the grip of fear and superstition . . .  in the “nick of time.”




If there were in fact a “mystic seer” available to me, I might even now know who will win The Eye-Dancers promotion that runs today straight through the holiday season, and into 2015.  As it is, it will have to remain a mystery until the promotion ends.

The details of the promotion are simple.  Between today’s date and January 4, 2015, if fifty copies of The Eye-Dancers are sold, a winner will be chosen to win a $125 gift card to a retailer of their choosing.  Amazon?  B & N?  A favorite restaurant or department store?  The choice is yours.

Beginning today (October 12) and ending January 4, 2015, if you buy The Eye-Dancers, wherever it is sold, in either paperback or ebook format, please notify me–either with a comment on this website, or via email at michaelf424@gmail.com.  I will keep track of  each person who buys the book during this time frame and then, on Monday, January 5, 2015 , the day after the promotion ends, I will randomly select the winner of the $125 gift card–provided, of course, that fifty copies of the book have sold during the promotional period.



The Eye-Dancers, the ebook, is available for purchase at the following online retail locations . . .

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Eye-Dancers-ebook/dp/B00A8TUS8M

B & N:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-eye-dancers-michael-s-fedison/1113839272?ean=2940015770261

Smashwords:  http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/255348

Kobo:  http://store.kobobooks.com/books/The-Eye-Dancers/nKFZETbWWkyzV2QkaJWOjg

And The Eye-Dancers, the paperback is sold at . . .

Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/The-Eye-Dancers-Michael-S-Fedison/dp/0692262784/ref=tmm_pap_title_0/190-9007348-1553839

and CreateSpace, https://www.createspace.com/4920627




Even without the aid of the Twilight Zone‘s “mystic seer,” I hope you’ll take part in this promo!



Thanks so much for reading!



%d bloggers like this: