…comes the ninth and next to last installment of the story of the Little Boy who had no gifts. Mark him well. He is here for this post and one more, then gone forever.
The Little Boy put down his book, rubbed his eyes and sighed. He had read, or tried to read, for several hours. He could sound the words but he could never, for any reason, derive anything from the reading, regardless of metier. He had tried everything from Marvel Comics to Zane Grey. No matter.
At age thirteen he had finally settled on Calvin's Institutes of Christianity, because, though they were very long, each tome settled carefully atop the previous one and the mad Frenchman's arguments cohered logically, if unmercifully.
Or something like that, he thought.
In fact, if one started with the Total Depravity of Man, as Jean seemed to do, the next stop had to be an election unconditional, for man was the proverbial snake, slithering in the grass in search more of victim that prey. Prey is something a predator wrests life from for the purpose of nutrition.
A victim is something quite other, the Little Boy knew, and a race for whom victimization came naturally could only be said to be depraved, totally depraved, not soul less but soul sick and thus salvageable only to a divine being who could love out of an eternal nature of love, regardless of the estate in which this divine being beholds unconstrained, free choosing man.
Or something like that, the Little Boy thought, when the shudders came and he could think of something more than his middle name or the hope of a hot supper.
"Man's conscience is too easy," the Little Boy told Wilbur, the Wizard of the Woods, upon taking leave of him for the last time. Neither of them knew it was the last time they would see each other but it was the absolute last time. Wilbur stopped going to the woods not long after their final talk, because he got the poison ivy, and the Little Boy could not remember the way to Wilbur's house.
He thought he remembered one day when he saw a man with a hat like Wilbur's, wide brimmed, crushed felt and high pointed but it was not Wilbur. The man was Wormy, who had gotten a new hat like his old one, not the new old one but the older old one. He had left his new old one on John the Policeman's grave the night they buried John and it had finally blown away during the big storm that came up from the South and blew down the hay barn where Wormy usually slept.
Wormy slept there because it was free and warm in the winter. The mice did not bother him but he was a bit fretful of the bullsnakes that came in after the mice and rats. He did not like the little squeals the mice made when the bullsnakes grabbed them.
He did not like the big barn spiders, either, though they had never done him any harm, not really, unless you counted the day he slammed the barn door on his little finger and left a scar running down his pinkie he would see for the rest of his life. He slammed the door when he was just closing it at the end of the day. He did not need to slam the door but a huge barn spider bobbed down in front of his face, a foul appearing arachnid on one thin string of silk, caught in the fading light of a November sun for the barn faced due west into the sun settting over toward Godley from Joshua.
Wormy never blamed the spiders but he did not like them, either before or after he wounded himself being startled by the sudden appearance of a creepy, crawly ectomorph, all thick torso and long, thin extremities.
So, it was Wormy who got the Little Boy lost that time, though he scarcely knew the Little Boy and certainly did not mean to get him lost. Wormy would have told the Little Boy not to follow him around, since he was often lost himself and did not care to be responsible for anyone else, anyway, if asked.
"Man's conscience is too easy," the Little Boy told Wilbur, at their last talk.
"Whut?" Wilbur asked.
"Since the Renaissance," the Little Boy said, "man has rejected his own culpability for the degradation of nature and of his own poor species. Man seems to think all will work out in the end because the world has not ended yet."
"All religious literature, no matter how obscure," he added, "agrees with the eco-madness systems. Species come and go, the environment degrades and the only constant is change."
"It seems certain that this one thing is true: all things end as we know them and the knowing dies with us, if we are left to ourselves," he finished and rose to leave.
"I don't think I understand you," Wilbur told the Little Boy who did not ever fit.
"Think of it in the irony of the Christ Child, then," the Little Boy told him. "He comes into the world with no birth defects of his own but, through inestimable sacrifice, He takes to Himself the giant birth defect of us all."
"We remember Him as the Ultimate Victim," he added, "instead of what the Scriptures Christians reverence but do not keep seem to say. For the ancients He was the Sacrifice, not the Victim. A Victim is pretty much a careless fool. A Sacrifice has salvific timbre."
"I guess you are not my friend," the Little Boy told Wilbur. "But you are the one fellow who did not run away from me when all the others beat me and left."
"Well, you are on odd duck," Wilbur told him, watching him all the way to the door this time, though he usually had grown very weary of the Little Boy by the time he got ready to leave.
"And you, my good Wizard," the Little Boy said as he reached the door, "are my finest hour. Everyone needs a finest hour or a memorable day. You are my finest hour."
"Then," Wilbur told him, "I hope you live long enough to have a better day or a finer hour. I am not much for making history."
The Little Boy with no gifts pushed through the door, suddenly lazy and alone. He could feel the madness start on him again, thick and dreamy, an unholy anxiety sure to claim his lonely mind.
"Ah'll see yo agin, Wilbur," he told his only un-friend.
But, then, as we know, he never did.