…comes the fourth installment of the story of the little boy without a gift in the world.
The little boy could not run or throw or hit balls he pitched to himself in the air. When he tried pitching to himself, he always struck himself out, unless he was trying to miss the ball. When he tried to miss the ball, he always hit it a mile. When he hit it a mile, he always hit it in something: a bush, a ditch, high weeds or something else and he always lost the ball that way.
He had absolutely no physical trait to inspire enthusiasm in others. No one would ever look at him and say, "There is a comer for you."
No one ever said of him, "He has lots of potential. He is first-string."
He did not even have friends.
Wilbur the Wizard of the Woods was not his friend. This was not terribly surprising because, of all the things Wilbur was, the most important things about him were the things Wilbur was not.
For instance, Wilbur was not a Wizard. He found an old wide-brim fedora felt hat one day. He found it beside the road where he was walking. The crushed black hat had blown off the head of a man who really loved the hat and wanted it back, if someone found it.
However, the hat blew off the head of a man called "Wormy" and so no one ever went looking for his hat, not to help him, for they suspected the hat was not clean. Wormy went without a hat for some time. It was not a good look for him. He really needed a hat to cover his head.
"I am going to get Wormy a new hat," John, the policeman told others. "He needs a hat. That head of his needs covering. I will buy him a new hat."
"Then, I won't have to go looking for that old hat of Wormy's," he added.
So, John the policeman asked Wormy the size of his head.
"How big is your head, Wormy?" John asked him.
Wormy looked puzzled. John stood three feet from him. Surely he could see Wormy's head was not very big.
"Wormy," John asked him again, "what size is your head?"
Wormy, startled, bent over toward John to show John his head.
"Wormy," John was shouting now. "What is your hat size?"
"I don't know," Wormy said.
"I lost my hat," he concluded.
"Wormy," John moaned.
"It blew off my head one night when I was making the three in the morning run from Venus," Wormy said.
"I thought you knew," he added.
So, Wormy and John the Policeman went down to the hat store and bought Wormy a new hat. John wanted it to be a surprise and, lo, behold, Wormy seemed just as surprised as if John the policeman had bought the hat and sent it to him from St. Louis.
"Thanks, John," Wormy told him.
"Don't mention it," John told him.
For days, Wormy worried about not mentioning it because he had already mentioned it when John told him not to mention it. When John died two years later, Wormy cried harder than anyone. Before he left the graveyard, he tamped the ground down good over John's coffin and laid his new hat on the hard packed dirt, pushing a stick down through the hat to make sure it did not blow off the grave, as his old hat had blown off his head one night when he was making the three in the morning run from Venus.
"I didn't mention it to nobody but you, John," he said.
"I hope that's alright now," Wormy finished.
Wormy's hat, the old one that blew off in the night run from Venus at three in the morning was the one Wilbur found. Wilbur did not know it was Wormy's hat. He did not much know Wormy. Wilbur had heard about Wormy but did not want to meet him, because Wilbur feared he might catch worms.
Wilbur did find the hat one or two days after it blew off Wormy's head. Wilbur took it home, to his hovel, dusted it off and tried it on his own head. The hat was too big for him, so it fell down over his forehead, where it stopped at the eyebrows, for Wilbur had prominent ridges over his eyes, like Neandrathal man, which made boys scared of him and girls repulsed at him.
The hat had a wide, wide brim, all around and came to kind of a point on top. It looked like the hat a Wizard might wear if a Wizard wore a hat he found by the roadside one morning when he was scrounging for tin cans, or valuables or just to get out of the delapidated little shack where he lived.
Wilbur kept the hat.
Wilbur was not a Wizard and he did not live in the woods. He walked around the woods a lot for the woods were cooler, more moist and people did not bother Wilbur much in the woods.
"I like the quiet here," Wilbur told a tree one day.
The tree, being a tree, did not answer. Wilbur was upset at himself, for, when he told the tree he liked the quiet, he broke the quiet.
If a man speaks to a tree in the woods, and the tree does not respond, does anyone actually hear?
"I heard," Wilbur told the tree and then swore, because he broke the silence again.
So, Wilbur was not the friend of the little boy who had no gifts. He was not a Wizard, just a high-browed man who found a hat. He did not live in the woods, he just liked the quiet in the woods.
Oh, Wilbur's name was Wilbur.
Who would lie about a thing like that?
To Be Continued…