Making Believe

Making Believe

©  J. Freels, 2008

     Jink the Scribner saw a sight in his young and youthful days that forever after tinted the world he saw around him.  He knew what he saw, for he had been raised responsibly by a matr and Tad who knew the worth and the value of the most classic of classic stories of bygone –but unforgotten, days and times.  He had been out leaving tidbits for toadstool sprites as any youngster is wont to do, and he happened to toddle himself over the Old Fourth Avenue Bridge.  For an instant, the briefest fleeting moment of moments, he saw a bit of scaly tail slip into the swirling churning water beneath the bridge.  Not a Selkie, nor any nymph, not any other such a one, but he knew this being to be none other than a dragon.

     He waited there as if frozen in place, hoping for another glimpse of the elusive watery wonder.  Of course he was not to see another glimpse nor peek, not even sidelong glance of the creature, but he stayed there expectantly hoping for the rest of the day.  As he stared into the murky water below him he began to think thoughts on the subject of what he had seen.  He had seen people work to create carefully crafted hallucinations, for he was living in a modern city  afferall.  He felt his eyes to be sure they weren’t glassy, and finding that they were indeed not fogged in any way he was certain that his sight had provided him with a true and accurate sight.

     When it finally was too dark to see that thing he was so busily not seeing, he reluctantly went home.  He was seized by an idea, shaken violently by it , and his course was set.  He began to run and ran home from the bridge as fast as his inspired legs could carry him.  Soon he was pounding up the narrow stairs and bursting through the door to his attic room.  Shuffling through scrolls and tomes of scrawly text older than the very old oak out front, he began to study all he could about dragons and their kind.  All night long, burning the tallow, Jink learned and reacquainted himself with dragon habits, their lairs and cares, foods they like, and broods they visit when good manners called for it.

     Jink the Scribner took to scribbling little dragonish sketches and dragonish stories.  He began quoting dragon rhymes and looking, always looking, for another sight of a stray dragon tail slipping along after the rest of its dragonly owner.  In school his social commentaries were for dragon rights, his reports were about dragon types, he counted, multiplied, and subtracted dragon concepts.  Most importantly, Jink the Scribner believed.

     In and around town the people came to recognize Jink the Scribner as a fixture as permanently a part of the Fourth Avenue Bridge as the lampposts he came to resemble standing there for so many long hours at a time.  The years passed and Jink outgrew and grew into new clothes, mostly not far from the stylish styles styled by stylish folks, but he never outgrew his belief in dragons, especially the one he knew he had witnessed so many years ago.  He grew older still, and as happens, found himself one day to be some shade of ancient.  Looking in his looking glass he wondered when exactly he had traded his hair for his prolific collection of wrinkles.  He sighed and decided that this must have occurred about the time that he had stopped running, leaping, and climbing, and that he’d taken to walking with the shakes.  Jink had believed in politicians, and classic colas, and things we know we’re supposed to know in our hearts, but time and time again he had found the truths didn’t agree with his heart’s beliefs.  Whenever the harsh lessons of life had caught up to him he had consoled himself by going to his spot on the bridge.  There he would spend hours hoping to see another hint of clue that his belief in this one simple thing had been worth all his believing.

     It was such a day that found him, all out of breath, for he’d spent the better part of the day trekking his old man’s body to his bridge, staring at waves he was sure he’d somehow seen before, looking for a glimps he’d glimpsed once before.  Jink the Scribner began to wonder, and he began to doubt.  His breath came in heavy rasping puffs, and his heart beat, but it didn’t feel so alive anymore.  Alone on his bridge, more alone than he had ever before been, Old Jink said a few words he never before had said.  He hefted these heavy words off the bridge out into the empty air.  Speaking to no one, he said in a whisper, “I used to believe in you.”  The water rippled the way it had always rippled.  It lapped the rocks and the bridge with caresses that seemed somehow emptier that before.  Jink the Scribner coughed a hollow cough, and said in a louder voice, the sound of a breaking heart, “I used to believe in you!”  Drained and emptier than anyone was ever meant to be, not even a single tear escaped the old man’s eye to comfort him as he stood there shaking in raging bereaved loneliness.

     Finally he turned his back to the empty water.  He stood there like that, for he had nowhere he could imagine going to.  He couldn’t stand the thought of returning to his home, his shrine-museum of artifacts dedicated to what he now knew to be the empty fantasy that had driven his misspent life.  In a quiet voice like wingtips stroking water, he whispered once again, for the last time, “I believed in you.”

     A voice smooth like velvet, or the tiniest trickle down a glass pane, deep yet soft, sounded quietly behind him, “I thought you knew. I still believe in you, Jink Scribner.”



Dragon time is not human time. A beautiful tale from Jeff Freels about the power of belief.  Would you spend your life believing in elusive dragons, or vampires, or elves?  Seems to me that it’s as good a way as any to spend a life.  Still, we mortals are weak.  The Objects of our Belief should give us a sign more than once in a lifetime, don’t you think?




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