Auld Lang Zone

Kathie Gibboney

As I write this, the Twilight Zone marathon is on and the remaining hours of the year 2018 are running down. Old Man Old Year is limping along on his last legs, sputtering and coughing, moaning and groaning. And most of the people I know are ready to raise their foot and profoundly help boot him on his way, while yelling, “Good riddance!”   

I myself am no fan of the year, having lost two dear friends whom I will never see on this plane again, so I look forward to welcoming Baby New Year with all the hope and gleaming possibilities that come with her. If I can stay up to midnight, which would be a lot of Twilight Zones, I will bellow out into the Topanga night, along with the other revelers, “Happy New Year!”  

But it does occur to me that even if the year was far from stellar, all time is precious and has its own opportunities to offer and experiences from which we can learn.  Besides the cat is sleeping peacefully in his little bed, so to a certain extent, for this brief moment, here in 2018, all’s right with the world. I wonder if I can, for these hours that remain to me of this year, look at life as the gift it is, to view even the mundane as something to be cherished.  

Like Emily in Our Town I look around our living room and try to see it all.  Look, over there are the wonderful Christmas stockings that held such surprises; and in this dish is the beloved old hard candy that my father used to love. There are my daughter’s shoes and a cup of coffee and here is the jury duty notice.  Now I admit it might be a challenge to embrace jury duty but if one can look at it as a noble attempt to provide fair trial by one’s peers it can be looked at as a gallant thing. The Frontier bill is another matter, but than without the service, I wouldn’t have The Twilight Zone, would I?

Here at the end of the year, I take a moment to smile fondly at all those old “Zone” episodes with the amazing combination of syfy spooky edginess, humor, and moral message brought to us by some truly great writers, directors, and actors.

They gave us the fantastic episode where Art Carney gets to become Santa, or the well-known terrifying airplane flight with William Shatner, the camera that takes photos of the future, Agnes Moorhead fighting off little robots, Cliff Robertson as the ventriloquist with the horrible dummy, and, of course, the Mardi Gras mask episode and the wonderful talents of the amazing Burgess Meredith and Orson Bean.   Then there’s the man himself, Rod Serling, with his cigarette in hand, making acerbic, side comments, appearing as a familiar reminder that magic is real and anything is possible because it’s all just a big Twilight Zone isn’t it?

I wish I had Serling to narrate my life, to stand aside remarking on my activities.  “Presented for your consideration, here’s one, Kathie Gibboney, leaving her house on a sunny day to return some library books, never suspecting that she is about to check out a story that will change her life, because at this library blue horses come alive and there’s a secret shelf in the back room and Kathie may not know it but she’s about to cross over into the Twilight Zone.”

How I would love it, my personal episode!

Upon entering the Topanga Library, Kathie found it strangely quiet even for a library.  At first Kathie didn’t notice, as she dropped the return books into the slot, that no one manned the desk and that the isles she wandered were deserted.  Now and then she fingered different books. Stopping in the Classics section she scanned the titles, then mumbled softly, “I’ve read it, read it, read it.”  Running her hand down the spine of Dickens’ “Christmas Carol,” she whispered, “Wish I’d written it.”

Although no one was in the library, someone was watching her.  He turned his head slowly, his mane shaking softly. The slight movement caught Kathie’s attention and she looked over.  The blue horse remained still, a statue once again, or was it? Had there been a flick of the tail? No, it was just the light falling across the statue’s flanks.  Moving to the Children’s section she paused with admiration in front of J. M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan.” Wonderful Peter who was young and heartless and brave enough to say, “To die would be an awfully big adventure.”   Kathie smiled at the book and spoke aloud to Peter’s own personal fairy, “Hi Tink,” she said, then moved on.

In Poetry she turned her head sideways to read the name, Yeats, and recited silently, ‘Come away, oh human child.’

There was suddenly a neigh heard across the room that startled Kathie, who then recalled this was Topanga and someone was probably riding by on their horse.  Memoir and Theater were close to each other and Kathie stood in appreciation in front of Issac Dineson’s “Out Of Africa” and sighed over the beauty of Thornton Wilder’s  “Our Town.”

From behind her a voice spoke, “You too could do it.”

Turning suddenly she found herself face to face with a blue horse.  A blue horse who spoke. “We’ve been waiting for you.”

Kathie could have been startled or frightened but somehow it seemed perfectly normal to encounter a talking blue horse.  “Follow me,” he said and turned and passed straight through a wall. Kathie followed him. They entered a room that was filled with trees and birds that flew overhead.  From here and there behind the trees there was a twittering sound like a running brook or the laughter of fairies. The room was surrounded with shelves stacked with books.  On the highest one perched an owl. “Here she is,” said the horse.

“Welcome,” spoke the owl but not in English.  Nonetheless the woman understood him.

“There are times,” the bird continued, “when the world needs a story.  Horse and I have selected you. Others have come before, some of the writers you admire. You see there are, at different times, only a certain number of really good and true stories that are given into the hearts and minds of humans to tell.  This is a time when the world needs that kind of story. We have one to give you.”

“Thank-you,” said Kathie, “Oh, thank-you.  “But why me?”

“You were once kind to a young girl who was crying on her cell phone here in the library.  Horse saw you. Oh, and your work could use all the help it can get.”

“Thank-you,” Kathie said again.

Owl added, “You will write the story we will tell you but you will not remember where it came from or us.  Horse will just seem a statue when you see him next. And you will never write anything as good as this story again. I’m sorry but that’s the way it works.”

Kathie reached out to pet the horse, “So the story will just come through me?”    

“Yes,” answered Owl.  “Oh, there will be a little bit of you in it, some part of you, can’t help it.  But try not to mess it up.”

“I promise,” she said, then sat down while they told her the story.  

Just then Rod Serling appeared to wrap things up. “Now, unfortunately, Kathie Gibboney’s memory is not what it used to be and she’s known to be somewhat lazy.  Whether or not she remembers the story and writes it remains to be seen. In the meantime,e the world waits, as do we here in the Twilight Zone.”

Suddenly it’s 2019! Yes, with the help of a little nap I made it to midnight and yelled into the Topanga night, “May your year be filled with laughter and love, and moments when you just know magic is real, because it is.”

Happy New Year!


Kathie Gibboney

It has been said that Kathie Gibboney invented the Unicorn, which she neither admits nor denies, as it might reveal her true age. Kathie is an essayist, reporter, and poet for MMN with her column, "My Corner of The Canyon." She lives happily in a now-empty nest in Topanga, CA with The Beleaguered Husband and a marmalade cat.

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