By Steven Bevell
Copyright 2017 Steven Bevell
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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“You dupe! And you must believe the moon itself is made of green cheese!” Thompson scoffed.
Mr. Lewis was insulted and said, “You always need some basis of fact! Do you believe anything that can’t be proven? I’m sure you don’t. No, no not you Thompson. You need a smoking gun before your eyes!” Lewis waited for Thompson to respond, but the gentleman was silent in thought, so Lewis continued, “Well I have a witness!”
Thompson broke his silence and scoffed again, “A mute witness no doubt.” And Thompson waded back into thought for a moment then said, “What did Pope write before… the fool is happy that he knows no more…?” and Thompson waited for Mr. Lewis to support his sad paraphrase. But, Mr. Lewis disregarded any social standing that would beg him to encourage his confidant’s ridiculous statement.
Mr. Lewis almost laughed, “But I am no fool, that is certain!”
“Set it to rest Mr. Lewis… no one will believe a word you say…” Thomas stretched his face long with sullen looks. “It would pain my heart, but if I must I will revoke our public relations… You’re a brilliant man, Mr. Lewis, do not embarrass yourself…” Thompson thought a moment, “Or me…” and he gave a gentle, courteous smile.
“Ernest Thompson! I considered you to be many things, but never in my life did I see you as a shortsighted individual…” and Mr. Lewis turned to leave Thompson’s study.
But as the oak door opened, Thompson interjected, “So! If you wish to invite ridicule, I can’t stop you, merely keep my name out of the papers!” and Thompson mumbled, “You maniac…”
Mr. Lewis hardly caught any or the words that travelled from Thompsons piping mouth but replied quickly enough cut off Thompson’s mumblings, “Don’t you worry! I will not mention you! You lousy buffoon…” and with that, Mr. Lewis slammed the oak door behind him, leaving Thompson among his books and liquors and small windows.
Outside the estate, Mr. Lewis collected himself and found his servant, Edgar, where he left him. The street cars clattered about the crowded roadway so Mr. Lewis yelled at Edgar’s face.
“Come on Edgar move quickly!” Mr. Lewis told him and his servant, who was ironically mute, acknowledged Mr. Lewis with a stiff nod.
Once they returned to their estate, Mr. Lewis paced upstairs and downstairs, considering the sixty four thousand dollar question before him. Edgar stood by with buttoned lips and aloof.
“Button your lip!” Mr. Lewis cried at Edgar and Edgar stood silent as a post. “Edgar…” Mr. Lewis said, entertaining the thoughts within his mind, “Now is the time to see what one can do… You saw it yourself! Did you not? With your own eyes did you not?” and Edgar nodded at Mr. Lewis. “This is unimaginable! Strange and wondrous, wondrous and strange! This is our matter at hand, and we must give it all we’ve got! We must bring this unknown discovery to light!
“Good heavens! Just imagine… something… someone inhabiting the moon! If only there was a way to get some kind of acknowledgement from whatever helpless creature is stirring about up there.
“Well, Edgar… you wrote of one Pfaal before, did you not?” and Edgar looked at Mr. Lewis, rather confused, and Mr. Lewis laughed aloud and slapped his knee, “Of course you didn’t! You merely share a great name is all…” then Mr. Lewis scratched at his chin and looked all about the room, “Now that’s an idea… certain! But unfortunately, fabricating such a device would not be easy. Hans Pfaal was a genius, nothing I could ever replicate…
“But that is not a bad idea at all… it would be difficult, indeed, but not impossible! Just like Hans Pfaal’s brilliant creation. After all he did record all of his methods within that fabulous letter of his… Surely we could do as he did and get to the moon! Of course! Then upon arrival, we will survey and seek out whatever life form we witnessed the other night, tilling the pale cold sands of the moon. ”
For several weeks Mr. Lewis and his servant, Edgar plied their trades to accumulate sufficient cash to acquire the materials to craft such a vessel, which would secure them safely upon the moon. Such gizmos and instruments were not inexpensive, nor were they located with ease. Mr. Lewis crossed the city, again and again, to find the tweezers and bucksaws, the oilstones and peen hammers, the lug wrenches and pencils, not to mention the computer hardware needed to process Mr. Lewis’ aeronautic and astrophysical calculations.
During the day, Mr. Lewis and Edgar worked fiercely and after sundown with more vigor. But such things do not always last. Mr. Lewis found solace in his journals, while Edgar smoked silk cigars. Most nights they shared a hot meal and a plentiful pipe. They never lacked whiskey to sip from thimble sized glasses and there was always wood to fuel the fireplaces. Every night they were thankful to damn the chill of the dark from creeping into their estate.
On clear days they would take time to breath in the ozone and when it rained they’d listen to the pitter-patter of droplets. On nights when the clouds were nowhere to be seen, they’d take a moment to admire the stars and, most of all, the moon when it was in cycle. How they gazed upon the moon was almost indecent, but nonetheless they’d gaze and draw maps and make measurements. On cloudy nights they’d watch the flashes of lightning blaze through the clouds and wondered how such a storm would look from outer space.
Days of labor turned to weeks and weeks turned to months, and months inevitably turned to years, all within the wink of an eye it seemed. As the years passed, Mr. Lewis, despite all his time and efforts spent on his projects and instruments, never again saw that mystical creature among the craters and mountains of the moon. And soon the memory of that spellbinding night began to fade, like the shadows of a dream, dreamt long ago.
Edgar no longer worked on the vessel that would deliver them to the frosty sands of the moon and Mr. Lewis lost all urge in his calculations and schemes for space travel.
More years pasted filled with idleness. Thompson, who called Mr. Lewis mad the night of his discovery, never spoke about that night again, nor brought up the fever that seemed to grip Mr. Lewis due to his inactivity. And the ideas of Mr. Lewis began to collect dust within his mind much how his instruments and telescopes did after many years of unemployment.
But on a white December night, as Mr. Lewis and Edgar huffed and puffed silky cigars from tropical distant islands in the south, a frosty beam of moonlight fell through the window and onto Mr. Lewis and shook him like a waterfall.
With a gasp Mr. Lewis leaned forward in his chair and addressed no one in particular, “Would you look at that…” and Edgar sat still pluming smoke from his nares.
For a moment Mr. Lewis admired the moon, peeping through the window from behind the clouds of the night. And soon, Mr. Lewis moved with an energy once thought to be gone with his youth and health. But he was seized with a mania that could never be explained and it coursed through his withered veins, so much so that even Edgar was started with Mr. Lewis’ jolting motions.
“Does thou know me!?” Mr. Lewis jumped before Edgar’s wide eyes, “I am not mad! I am not!”
The embers of Mr. Lewis’ heart stirred red again and sent him flying through the rooms to recover his long lost telescopes. As he unpacked the device from storage and set it together, the brass of the device nourished new life within Mr. Lewis and he walked out the front door and into the cold night.
He peered through the lens and up at the moon, searching, quietly whispering nothings to himself. After hours of hunting and going over every deathly pale crater of the moon, Mr. Lewis closed his eyes in despair.
“I must be mad…” he told himself and a cold wind pulled at his coats and scarfs.
Edgar’s footfalls broke fresh snow and startled Mr. Lewis.
“I’m unsure of what I expected to see tonight,” Mr. Lewis finally sighed after a moment.
Edgar’s heavy hand comforted Mr. Lewis’ sullen shoulder with a gentle touch.
“The moon is beautiful, but I will never be able to look upon it without… the thought of what I saw haunting me…” he said to Edgar.
His servant and lifelong friend looked at Mr. Lewis with sorrow soaked eyes, unable to encourage Mr. Lewis not to give up, unable to tell him to never stop searching, instead his stone tongue only cracked and groaned, like a prehistoric castle within his mouth.
“You saw it too… did you not?” Mr. Lewis pleaded his friend to answer him.
But Edgar only stood silent.
“Why must I be so tortured…?” Mr. Lewis cried and almost picked up the telescope to search the surface of the heavenly body above, but a spirit of reminiscence caused him to retrace his steps and he slowly found his way back into the warm embrace of his worldly estate. Certainly a nice chair, a warm fire, a cup of warm heavy wine and a cigar to chew on would ease the gnawing ache of reality for Mr. Lewis, at least he hoped.
But Edgar stayed outside a while and took a gander at the moon, alone in the cold night. And as he turned to go inside, the moonlight pulled at the corner of his eye. With indifference he equipped the lonely telescope and looked through it. Maybe it was the drinks or the silk cigars or the plentiful pipes or the cold flurries of the night, but Edgar’s stone tongue cleaved to the roof of his mouth and he held his breath.
He was rooted to the spot he stood and lost in wonder at whatever he was looking at. Finally he put down the instrument and an air of optimistic pessimism shrouded his frame. And set deep in his hopeless face, were eyes filled with hope.