“Daddy?” Elena asked. “I want to know his story.”
“Pardon?” I said. “Who’s story?”
“The three legged man in front of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not,” she said. To her mind, that said it all. “I want to know his story. How did he get there?”
“That’s just a display, Beans,” I said. “He’s not the real guy.”
“I know THAT,” she said. “I want to know his story.”
Mell was already on the computer, checking to see what the man’s story was. As she did that, I told Elena this.
“Halbert’s father was a Human Resources Manager at a nuclear power plant and his mother was an English teacher at a local, all boys catholic high school. Their family doctor recommended an obstetrician who had depth perception problems because of his glass eye. He lost the eye as a teenager, fighting in a turf war in The Big City. Because of his depth perception problems, he read the images on the ultrasound wrong and pronounced that the couple were having twin boys. The overjoyed couple decorated the baby room so it would be fit for two gregarious and rambunctious boys. The husband was one of three boys and his wife had heard story after story of what they three of them could be like, and wanted to be prepared for twins who shared that DNA. They picked the names, too – Harry and Elbert. Names they chose from their respective paternal grandfathers.
“Once the child was born, after a long and arduous labour, they realized they only needed one name, and christened him Halbert. The father went back to work but the mother never did, electing to raise Halbert at home rather than to subject him to the torments of schoolchildren. Schoolchildren can be cruel.”
Before I could finish, Mell told Elena the real story of Frank Lentini, also known as “The King” in carnival circles. By the time Elena learned that, she was already disinterested and had moved on and had no interest in learning the rest of the story of Halbert.
Too bad. I think Halbert was starting to sound pretty cool.