The boy who would

From a story I started back in 2011 called “Hank Patrick is Dead, Long Live Hank Patrick” – more on that here.

Books had captivated Marcus since he was a young boy, though his fascination was not so much with reading them as it was with collecting them.  This is not to say that he didn’t enjoy the fantastical worlds that were conjured up between some covers or that he didn’t respect the tomes that held the compiled knowledge wrought by centuries of study, because he most certainly did.  However, it was the act of collecting varying types and organizing them that he loved most.  

His collection began as an assortment of comic books and manga in various languages that he had picked up when he had travelled with his parents through Europe.  The collection was dog-eared from the many train journeys and evenings in hotel common rooms that they had endured, but that only made him love the collection even more.  To this day that original collection was still his favourite and as such had a place of honour in his library. 

The library consisted of several IKEA Billy bookcases arranged along the walls, an oak wood table, a leather desk chair and a comfortable reading chair in a corner. The odd part was that it was situated where there should have been a garage.  He had built it himself after years of lobbying his wife to allow it.  One half of the garage was for storage and the other half was his.  He spent most of his time at home in the library, organizing or reading his books or working at his desk.

He sat there now flipping through one of those comics he had dragged across half of Europe with him and wondered if he could truly give up his entire life.  It was petty to be thinking about his collection when he should have been wondering about how his family would fare without him, but this collection was no less a part of him than they were.  The love he felt for his family was far stronger than any sentimental tie he had to these material possessions, but still each book had a story.  Memories of old love affairs and half baked ideas were littered on post it notes, ticket stubs and letters that still had the lingering scent of their authors.

As he was thumbing through the comic one such memory fell out of its resting place onto his lap.  It was a small, faded post it note that he had folded three times and then written ‘to Marcus’ on the front.  When he saw it the moment he wrote it came back to him.

It was a cold day and he and his parents were sitting on a train bound towards a town up in the Swiss Alps and as had become the norm on such trips Marcus sat flipping through a comic while his parents planned out the weeks activities.  He couldn’t remember the content of the story itself but he remembered that it followed the typical typecast of the perfect hero.  As they were nearing the end of the train ride he finished the story and was mesmerized.  Right then and there he vowed that some day he would be as valiant as the hero in his comic.  His father had always taught him that if you want a promise to be kept you have to write it down and sign it, so heeding his father’s words he dutifully wrote, ‘I solemnly vow to grow up and someday save the world,’ signed it, folded it and stuffed it between the pages of the comic.

Now those words stared back at him and made him wonder.  His initial reaction was to laugh at his youthful naivety.  Children believe in a world that can be saved but not adults.  Travelling up beyond the low hanging clouds to mountain villages and experiencing nothing but breathtaking vistas filled his youthful head with the notion that the world was truly as magical as the stories he read.  That boy existed many years ago and resided now only within the pages of those old comics.  Still he pocketed the note instead of returning it to those pages, because a part of him believed he now had the choice to try and save the world.

Before he had time to sift through more of the comics looking for buried notes of encouragement from his younger self his wife came out and beckoned him to come to bed.  In truth he didn’t want to follow her, but he left his collection and joined her.

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