*…Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the throbbing of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells —
To the sobbing of the bells;
Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
To the rolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells —
To the tolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells —
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.
I spent my lunch hour at the Goodwill store today. Slowly, I meandered up and down the aisles looking for treasures.
A china deviled-egg plate caught my eye in the housewares department. My daughter Liz has a new apartment and, while she doesn’t yet cook, she is a devotee of the deviled-egg. I picked it up, then put it back down. I thought about it as I wandered and finally committed to bringing it home. Don’t tell Liz.
There were a couple of cute outfits I felt compelled to try on.
While in the dressing room, I heard a mom calling: “Justin…Justin?”. Her tone was increasingly desperate. As a mom of old, I knew that icy feeling of dread when your little bit of quicksilver is suddenly gone. Hiding? Playing? Or worse?
When I got out of the dressing room, I stood still, trying to identify the calling woman; to offer my help. I caught a glimpse of a little foot disappearing under a long rack of jeans as a voice came over the loudspeaker: “Justin; will a little boy named Justin please come to the service desk?”
Hunkering down beside the jeans I spied a dimpled hand and softly asked “Justin? Is that you? You have to come out now, honey. Mommy’s worried about you.”
An adorable 3-year-old redhead peeped, then creeped reluctantly out from under the rack of long pants which had totally hidden him from view. As I turned, my eye caught the frantic gaze of his young mother hurrying down the aisle. I smiled reassuringly, then stepped aside so she could see her grinning imp. With a brief, but heartfelt “thank you” she rushed by to snatch him up, to let the tears fall as she reassured herself he was alright, before starting in with the scolding that is always born of such worry.
There was an older man in the store while I was there. He walked up and down the aisles with the aimless shuffle of the person who is killing time. He rarely stood still, but kept moving – walking, shuffling. How, you ask, do I know he kept moving?
He carried with him his intended purchase – a set of wind chimes. The chimes rang freely.
Ring, ring, tinkle, chime.
At first I couldn’t place the sound. It took 10 minutes in the store before it pierced my consciousness. Then I couldn’t NOT hear it. It filled my head.
Clink, clank, the pealing chimes.
They chimed for 45 minutes straight, without pause; the entire time I was in the store.
Now growing louder, now growing fainter as our paths converged and parted. Underscoring my dressing room deliberations, through the drama of the missing child, serving as backdrop for the egg plate dilemma – the shuffler provided a chiming soundtrack.
Endlessly he trudged through the store; endlessly, the wind-chime Sisyphus of the Goodwill.
This post is dedicated to that unknown man, who will never know how close he came to having the merrily tinkling, winkling bells of his chimes shoved up his….nose.
*This is part of the poem “The Bells” from the brilliant, tortured mind of Edgar Allen Poe.