My aunt Edna and uncle George and two cousins, Alan
and Norma, lived in Nuneaton, England, close by Sherwood
Forest. My parents and I visited frequently. I spent a couple
of weeks there in the summers. I can remember us, as toddlers,
all three in the kitchen sink being bathed by my aunt.
When we got older we would be taken to Sherwood
Forest where, naturally, we played at Robin Hood. Alan
and I swapped off being Robin or one of the Merry Men.. Norma,
of course, was Maid Marian. An early feminist, she insisted that
her Maid Marian had a bow and arrow like ours.

We’d go to “The Pictures” on Saturdays. Each given
two sixpences. One sixpence got us in and the
other paid for the usual stuff (though I don’t remember
popcorn until coming over here). We’d stay in the
theater all afternoon.

Alan and I spent a lot of time together until I moved to Ameria.
He joined the army and was killed on his motorcyle while stationed
on Cyprus. I liked to think it was a martyrdom Lawrence of Arabia sort
of thing, swerving to save the lives of two children, but the
circumstances lead more to the guess that he was on his
way back to camp from a pub.

Spooky thing about that. He and I were about 19 at
the time. I lived at home in an 18th century house in a small
town in New England. One evening, I was on the phone with
my girlfriend when I heard the big oak front door open and
footsteps cross the old creaky boards toward the room where
I sat (no mistaking the familiar sound of each board). I said to
my girlfriend, “Hang on. Someone’s just come in.” I went out
to the living room where the footsteps had stopped and I
expected to see a parent of some close friend of the family.
No one there. The following day we learned of Alan’s death.

Now, talk about cynical. Was that Alan? I have to doubt it.
But I knew the sound of that door and of those floorboards.
I’d heard them a thousand times. I knew exactly where “it”
was standing. And, what makes it more curious is that I was
neither dreaming nor daydreaming. My mind was engaged
on the phone. So, if not him–what? Who ya gonna call?