By J.J. Macke

I met a young kid the other day, impressed me. Not sure why, or how, he just did, and that’s a big deal ‘cuz I ain’t easily impressed, ya know’m sayin’? There was nothin’ extra-ordinary about this kid, either. He looked in his late teens, early twenties, blondish hair neatly trimmed, almost military, and a freckle here an’ there on a not-bad Anglo face. He stood medium build, ’round 6 foot, wearing  blue jeans, a white T, and black sandles, south o’ the border style and…I know, I know, you’re thinkin’ it all sounds a lot like a police report, right? Fuhgive me, I know, but I cain’t help it, ya know’m sayin’? I was a cop for a lotta years, long time ago and, followin’ that, everythin’ reads and sounds like a dispatch or log entry. I’ve learned to live with it, you should too, ya know’m sayin’?

Any who, I’m takin’ time out to tell you ’bout this kid cuz he impressed me — did I already say that? — no matter. I don’t really know why he grabbed me like he did. He didn’t say much. In fact, I don’t remember he said anything, really. I just remember the way he made me feel. Good. He made me feel good, and that’s rare after seventy-plus years on this blue rock and my health in the toilet, ya know’m sayin’? Rare.

Thinkin’ back, I was standin’ down by the docks at the ocean ’round sunrise, tossin’ stale, moldy bread at the birds just like always, just like I done every mornin’ ’round the same time for at least 5 years now, when this guy shows up standin’ right next to me, this kid I told you ’bout. He rattled me, ya know’m sayin’? I let out a gasp I think, hell, maybe it was a bit of a scream, I can’t remember for sure — some tough cop your thinkin’, eh? — and I’m just about to give him a piece of my mind fur it when I find my tongue all tied up.  I can’t talk at all, and that surprises me, ya know’m sayin’? See, I’m a talker, in case you hadn’t noticed and, as if losin’ my voice ain’t enough, a dead calm passes over me too. You know what I mean, a dead calm? Like I felt so calm that I thought I was dead.

Now, I ain’t positive, but I’m pretty dang sure I ain’t never felt nothin’ quite like that before. I was peaceful, ya know’m sayin’? Like most cops I know, I got a temper and I like a good fight when I can find one, so not being able to yell at that kid was kinda like havin’ a rug yanked when you’re tryin’ to swing on a guy. Not a real secure feelin’. Y’ever been there? Ya know’m sayin?’ The closest I can come to describin’ that peace is if you ever been to the ocean early in the morn’ with the mist hangin’ over it. The top is flat and invitin’, right? A little bit a steam waftin’ up, the water feelin’ warmer than the air your breathin’ and all you can think is how ya wanna go swimmin’ in it. If you close your eyes and sniff, the salty air fills up your nostrils, and all the while, you can hear the buoy horns and bells soundin’ off in the distance on schedule. The only real disturbance at that time in the mornin’ is the every so often ripples left by birds doin’ their business or divin’ in to feed on somethin’. It’s calm, know’m sayin? And if you look real good, you might even see the patterns fish make when they’re stirrin’ it up below the surface but you can’t see ’em. Its absolutely gorgeous when it’s like that. Peaceful, calm, and that’s just how that kid made me feel.

So instead o’ goin’ off on him like I wanted to, like I normally would, somethin’ I ain’t shy or embarrassed about neither, I surprised myself, and him too I think, by smilin’ at ‘im instead. Me. I smiled. At some strange kid! Not my usual response, ya know’m sayin’? I smiled at that kid, and even stuck my hand out to him. Jeeze! There’s somethin’ wrong wit’ me, ya know’m sayin’?

Oh, wait, now I remember, he did talk. That’s right! When I smiled, I said, “Mornin.” to him, and he responded with “Good morning.” back to me. It wasn’t much, I know, but it was enough to get my attention’. Damn, I can’t believe I forgot that he talked to me. Son of a gun! You’re slippin’, old buddy. Ya know’m sayin’? Slippin’.

Where was I? Oh yeah, then I asked him his name, which is how I found out what it was.

“Noble,” he said. “Noble Wonder.”

And that sounded curious to me, does it you? Sounds like a rock star or somethin’, dudn’t it? Maybe he is, I don’t know. That’s right when we shook hands and I got another surprise. It was electricity, kinda like you get at the chiropractor, only it didn’t hurt me like that does. Hell, my back is so screwed up from chasing down bad guys all those years… I don’t know why but, when we shook, I felt frozen in time. His grip filled me up with somethin’, life energy, I think. Crazy, right? I don’t know. But whatever it was, I was feeling good, just like I had regained some of my years, like that could ever happen, and I wanted to say somethin’ to him about it, but instead I said,”Nice to meet you, Noble Wonder.” Now, how stupid is that? The guy’s fillin’ me up with wattage and all I can say is nice to meet ya? Too much, ya know’m sayin’? Too much.

“Nice to meet you, John Gordon.” he said.

His smile was kind, like nothin’ I’d ever seen before, and when he let go my hand, instead of sayin’ somethin’ ’bout the ‘lectricity, I turned back to my birds and my crumbs with a happy feelin’ and purpose I ain’t never felt before neither. It was like my feeding the birds was important all of a sudden, like it mattered somehow, and that made me feel good. At my age, I thought for sure I was done makin’ a difference, if ever I did that I don’t know, and service I gave in the grand scheme was limited, if that makes any sense at all. Heck, it’s all gibberish, ain’t it? But feedin’ the birds is somethin’ that gets me outta bed everyday. I like doin’ it, and if that’s important too, well…

I also had a sense that this guy, this Noble Wonder, was somebody special, and he dropped by just to let me know I’m doin’ an important job here and to keep doin’ it. Nice, huh? Rare someone takes time out to let somebody they don’t even know, know that they’re doin’ somethin’ good, ya know’m sayin’? It was nice what he did, real nice, and I wanted to say somethin’ to him ’bout it but, when I turned back to him, he was gone. He ditched out, ya know’m sayin’? I couldn’t thank him cuz he was gone.

Ya know somethin’ else? I only just realized in talkin’ and tellin’ you this stuff that the guy knew my name somehow without me ever tellin’ him what it was. That’s weird, right? Weird, ya know’m sayin’? I mean, how did he know it? Phone book? Computer? Google or some other crud like that? I sure didn’t tell him, and I certainly don’t have it printed on my shorts. Make a guy crazy tryin’ to figure that one.

Anyways, like I said, when I looked back to tell him what I was thinkin’ ’bout  he was gone, and I don’t know where he went. I asked all day about him, and no one  knew nothin’. Not so strange in a small tourist town like this one, but still, I wanna know who that guy is and what the hell kind a magic it is he’s carryin’. Can”t say I wouldn’t like more of it, ya know’m sayin’? Too bad I have a feeling I ain’t ever gonna find him, though. Like so many perps I chased over the years, the guy’s up in smoke!

Noble Wonder. What a freakin’ weird and wonderful name, ya know’m sayin’? Noble, like a good guy, and Wonder, like I wonder where the hell he came from or disappeared to.

Well, here’s some truth for ya. I don’t know who he is, where he came from, or where he’s gone to, but whether I ever see him again or not, and I ain’t gonna hold my breath, I’m pretty doggone sure  I’m better for having met the guy, ya know’m sayin’? I’m better.

So, if you bump into him or hear about him from somebody or you just happen to know who he is and how I might find him, let me know so I can thank the guy for one of the screwiest days of my life, alright? Ya know’m sayin’? Screwy. All cuz a some guy named Noble Wonder.

Copyright 2011 by J. J. Macke.   All Rights Reserved.