Clockwork 5


Jim Lantern


Clockwork Series (Category) – See list of this new series on Science Fiction Stories Page

Clockwork 1Clockwork 2, Clockwork 3, Clockwork 4

Clockwork 5

Planet Earth, United States of America, Kansas, Kansas City.

Hawthorn Hills, Harrow house.

6:00am CT, “Mother’s Day” Sunday, 12 May 1963 CE.

Dreams, barely remembered upon awakening.

Nightmares, never to be forgotten.

As usual, I awakened on a Sunday without the aid of an alarm clock, before any other members of my family.

I looked at the poster-size calendar hanging on the wall near my bed. Each month included an artist’s concept of one of the planets of the solar system, including the sun and the moon, as well as the asteroids belt.

That was the second Sunday in May of 1963, Mother’s Day.

I realized then that I’d only have to attend the first grade of public elementary school for only about three more weeks. I had not enjoyed my first year of school at all, and so I very much looked forward to enjoying my freedom during the summer of ’63. My best friends lived in the Hawthorn Hills neighborhood, and all of them went to private schools – Catholic. I had a few good friends at public school, but I was not well treated by the majority of students and teachers. Sunday school was worse. I had no friends at the church my family attended. I liked the pastor. But the Sunday school teacher, who taught the class for kids my age – I believed her to be insane, and she was passing her insanity on to the other students. I was not as easily hoodwinked as the others were. I did not fit in there. Where I fit in was a question that had been bugging me for some time.

That early on a Sunday, it wasn’t time yet to get dressed for Sunday school and church. I put on my robe over my pajamas, and then stepped into my house slippers. Quietly, I left my private bedroom, and then walked down the hallway toward the kitchen.

In the kitchen, I pulled a chair over to a counter, and climbed up on the chair to reach a large box of cold cereal in a cabinet. While up there, I also reached for a plastic bowl. I obtained a spoon from a drawer on the way down. A glass jug of milk from the refrigerator was next. Then I sat on a bar stool over at the breakfast bar. There, I added just a few large spoonfuls of real sugar to the milk and cereal in the bowl. My sister – four years older than me at age 11 – I was age 7 then – would sometimes ask me about how many truckloads of sugar I put on my cereal. Well, sometimes, I did have some cold cereal and milk with my sugar. It would be two more years before I’d be diagnosed with fluctuating blood glucose balance disorder – hypoglycemia – opposite of being diabetic. A genetic disorder . . . or a genetic difference in RNA carried by DNA. It tied in with my already diagnosed bronchial asthma and allergies. My sister, claiming me to be an alien, further joked that I’d suffer the same fate as the Martians in the War of the Worlds story ending – original 1953 movie.

My regular routine for Sunday mornings. I had the usual cold breakfast before the usual hot breakfast. My father always fixed the hot breakfast on Sundays, so that my mother could have extra time to sleep. By 7:30am, dad would start fixing the scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes, and orange juice squeezed from fresh oranges. Before having any of those items, my father and sister would split a grapefruit. That was their usual routine. I’d try, without much success, to avoid being squirted in my eyes, each time they would stab their spoons into a section of the grapefruit. My sister, Lucy, was getting much better with improving her aim, I discovered.  I had no other sisters, and I had no brothers.

Getting dressed on Sundays was a bit more complicated than other days of the week. School days were not really too difficult. I was free on Saturdays to dress for my own interests. On Sunday, I was required by my father to wear a three-piece suit, a tie, and very polished shoes.

My father, who was Michael Richard Harrow, was not just a basic Christian, but also a conservative Republican, and sole owner of the Harrow-Wells Oil Company. It was passed down to him from his father, John William Harrow, whose business partner was Robert Paul “Blackstone” Wells. They started the business with just one well back during 1935. John and Bob were killed during 1949 when their small plane crashed. However, the body of Wells was not found at the crash site . . . was never found. A local newspaper reporter remarked about the body of Wells, who was an amateur but very good magician on-the-side, had vanished. He had no wife, no children, so the oil business was legally passed down to my father.

My brown hair was real short at that time, so it was not necessary for me to spend much time getting it to look just right, unlike my mother and sister. My father didn’t have to spend much time fixing his hair.

There was no need for us to hurry to get ready. We would not need to be at the church until a few minutes before 10:00am. My father was the church treasurer that year. He would work on the financial books and relating paperwork while most of the adult members would attend their own bible study classes in the basement of the main building of the church. During that first hour, all of the children and teens would assemble in the basement of a separate neighboring building. There we mainly engaged in singing a variety of religious songs. Then the children and teens would attend Sunday school classes, a different room for each different age, on the ground level of the building. At that same time, 11:00am, the main church service for adults would begin in the huge auditorium on the ground level of the main building. That year, our church had about 300 adult members. I’m not sure how many children and teens. A Christian Church partly associated with the national and worldwide Unity Churches. It was named the Well of the Souls Church. Not surprising, most of the members were in the oil business.

Until it was time to leave for church, my father usually read the newspaper. After getting ready, my sister would read the comics section, and my mother would search for any useful coupons. I would spend that part of the morning pursuing a variety of interests, and thinking about how I’d spend the rest of the day after attending church. We would usually stop and get hamburgers, fries, and malts, on the way home. Then I’d have the afternoon free to play outside, or play in my room, or watch sports on TV with my father. We usually went out for a fried chicken dinner. After that, there would be a couple of good shows on TV. For a long time, nearly every Sunday was like that.

By the way, Lucy Harrow, my sister, was a lot like Lucille “Lucy” van Pelt in the Peanuts comic strip, whose younger brother is Linus van Pelt. I don’t claim to be like Linus. Lucy, my sister, did refer to my best friend neighbor, Dean Charles Kay, same age as me, as being like Charlie Brown.

My father had some drafting tools, and would let me use them to do a lot of drawing in my free time. I liked to draw landscapes and maps, but the end results did not look like anything of this world. That Sunday morning, while dad, mother, and Lucy were dividing up the newspaper, I made a drawing of a small city surrounded by farmlands. While I worked on the map, I thought about the events of the past week at the public elementary school, and how it related to attending Sunday school.

Monday through Friday, I attended the Great Plains Elementary School for students who lived in our area. My father, would leave the house every work day with his briefcase full of papers, and drive to his office. I would leave the house at about the same time as my father, carrying my miniature version of his briefcase, full of homework and schoolbooks. I had to ride a school bus with children who were enthusiastically interested in the total destruction of my homework papers and drawings. At that time, going to school, I believed, was just like going to work.

It was okay to work Monday through Friday, but not on Saturdays, and certainly not on Sundays. However, Saturday mornings, my father would sometimes go to his office for a couple of hours, or go tour some of the nearby well locations of his company. He would often take me with him. Otherwise I was free to do most anything I wanted to do during Saturday afternoons and evenings. Also, I was free to stay up as late as I wanted to on Saturday nights. It was a Saturday night when my sister introduced me to science fiction by talking me into watching with her the 1951 movie The Day The Earth Stood Still. That was 3 March 1962, when it was broadcast on TV. NBC Saturday Night at the Movies premiered in September 1961 when I was 5 years old and began attending kindergarten at the public school. I turned age 6 on 5 March 1962, which was a Monday.

Sunday school was becoming complicated, and more like elementary school work. From my viewpoint, I believed it was becoming a significant contradiction. It was my understanding that we were not to work on Sundays, reserving that day for praying and worshiping, and resting and relaxing. I’d often hear it described as “a day of rest”—but there was nothing restful about it. And I wondered, considering sports on TV, what about athletes in sports?—they certainly don’t get to rest! More and more, I was enjoying Sunday school less and less. I discovered it to be full of what I considered to be contradictions in logic. However, I still liked the sermons at the 11:00am main service. Rarely, children were allowed to attend the adult service with their parents, but because my father was church treasurer that year I got to attend the adult service with him a few times. I liked what the pastor was teaching the adults, because it usually made good sense. I didn’t like what the Sunday school teacher was teaching the students my age, because it usually made no sense at all. I believed something to be wrong with her mind. And soul.

I think perhaps the most outrageous claim ever made by that Sunday school teacher was that all of my friends, who did not attend that same church, even if they attended any other kinds of churches, and were good Christians, were all going to “fry in hell.” She claimed “Only children who attend our church can be saved and go to heaven.” When she made that claim, she clearly crossed a certain line. Her arrogance angered me. I told my girlfriend. Yes, I had a girlfriend at age 7. She lived in the house behind my house. Her father was the pastor at a Baptist church. She told him. He called the pastor of the church I attended. Then the pastor of the church I attended eventually fired the Sunday school teacher who made that false claim.

There was also the teaching about all men created equal. Some years later, it would be changed to all people created equal to include women. Even so, the focus was still on material and physical values, rather than the spiritual. Still, the people remained unequal in material and physical matters. The equality subject was and still is one of the greatest contradictions. No one is equal, unless perhaps they are all equally different. That I could accept. I then recalled an incident at the public elementary school . . . a couple of them actually . . . the week before that Sunday…

At lunch, the cafeteria workers, who were adults, some of them parents of students there, served a smaller portion of food to me. I was told that big boys need bigger portions, because they are bigger. It never occurred to those idiots that the smaller students needed more food so that they could become bigger. Discrimination against size, being one of the oldest forms of discrimination.

Likewise, flowers were being handed out to all students to take home to their mothers for Mother’s Day in 1963. The tallest, not just the oldest students, got first pick for the best flowers. What was left for me to choose from would not survive the bus trip home anyway.

Earlier the past week, I had to go to a new doctor for my allergies, and was told to stay away from flowering plants, anyway. Testing determined me to be highly allergic to certain pollen, grasses, molds, dusts, cat hair, horsehair, hay, and a few other things. New medicine had been prescribed. I noticed that it tended to heighten my senses. I had to take some of it that Sunday morning, just before we left the house to go to church. There might have been some unusual side effects . . . or . . . I really was contacted by an angelic being who referred to himself as the Ambassador to Earth from the Realm of Heaven

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