Harvey Fogg’s Sequester—George Davis R 3/10/21
Harvey Fogg’s a small man with a winsome smile, a chiseled chin accentuated by a rather large proboscis.
One morning in May last year, he sat in his black leather recliner and immediately fell into the arms of Morpheus.
Normally when Harvey rested in his recliner, he woke in an hour or two; got up, and went upstairs to bed. Not this time. He did not wake in an hour or a day for that matter. He was dead to the world.
Harvey lived in the country suburb of Bickford in Cumberland Falls, Maine. It was so rural. His nearest neighbor was three miles away.
Since Harvey was never one to mingle with folks; the fact is, he was a complete loner. Most of his neighbors had never met him, and from the rumors they had heard, weren’t anxious to meet their farmer friend.
Yesterday, Jimmy Hanson was delivering farm produce to Fogg’s neighbor Millard Grant, having to pass the Fogg Farm.
He asked his pet duck and traveling companion, “What do you think, Henrietta?”
“Quack, quack,” she retorted.
“Yeah, me too.” He observed Fogg’s overgrown vegetable garden. The grass was proverbially as tall as an elephant’s eye.
“He hasn’t taken care of his property, Henrietta. He’s let the weeds, and crabgrass take over.”
“Yeah, I too, wonder if he is all right. Maybe he died. No one would know if he did. He isn’t neighborly at all.”
Two weeks later, at Hanson’s request. The sheriff went out to Fogg’s farm to check on Harvey. He knocked several times. There was no response. The sheriff said to his deputy, Mel Kronk, “break down the door.” The officer did as he was told.
Entering Fogg’s house nothing seemed out of place. There were no dirty dishes, no messes. Nevertheless, there were spider webs everywhere. All, except those linen strings, was normal until they entered the living room.
“Fogg,” the sheriff said. “Are you all right?” Harvey, waking from his sleep shook his head to loosen the cobwebs. “Huh? Sure I’m all right. I just had a little nap. That's all.”
“Well, Fogg, Jimmy Hanson said your field is overgrown with weeds, and he thought, maybe you were ill, or—dead.”
“Why don’t that airhead stop gossiping. It is like that’s all he has to do?”
“He was concerned for you, Fogg.”
“Well, as you can see. I am fine. Now if you don’t mind. I’d like to get on with my work.”
“Sorry, Fogg, just doing my duty.”
After the sheriff left the house, Fogg walked into the kitchen. What is with the cobwebs filling my kitchen? There were cobwebs everywhere. Could a spider spin so many webs overnight? He thought. This is ridiculous I was only asleep about an hour or so.
It was when Harvey went for his mail that he got a shock. His mailbox was filled to overflowing and there were letters strewn halfway across his porch. There must have been twenty of thirty newspapers, still folded laying all over his front lawn.
“Brother, the U S Mail waited six months and then delivered my mail all at once,” he said to no one.
Bending down and reading the headlines on one of the newspapers, he couldn’t believe what he read. The pandemic was over. Most of the people had received their vaccines. The curfews have been lifted, and companies were fully reopened.
He shook his head. Last night, the news report on TV said the virus was increasing. More people were getting sick, and the death rate was up. Now, the next morning, everything is all right. What’s up with that?
Harvey, trying to prove he wasn’t a year older, but the image in the mirror belied his story. Harvey’s beard was down to his waist.
Harvey picked up the paper, unfolded it, and saw the date was one year-ago today. That can’t be right. I haven’t been asleep for a year. Someone is playing a trick on me, and I’m gonna find out who. And when I do, I shall make them sorry they were ever born.
Sadie Bothel, the sheriff’s department’s secretary asked, “How’d it go out at the Fogg place, Sheriff?”
“Something strange is going on out there, Sadie.”
“What do you mean?” The Sheriff told her what he, and his deputy had found at the farm.
“I’m not surprised, Sheriff. That Fogg is a stranger one. Never associates with any of his neighbors. Has a sign stating NO TRESPASSING on his front lawn.”
“The signs are gone, but the atmosphere hasn’t changed any. Fogg is still a loner.”
Harvey cleaned up the spiderwebs throughout his entire house. How could a spider spin so many webs in so short a time? Must be a whole family of those arachnids. I’ll call an exterminator in the morning.
It’s funny, Harvey thought, I have only seen one spider since I moved in here, and I killed that one, mashed him against the wall.
Harvey did make one contact in the town, Winnie Rideout, owner of the Wayfarer Diner on Main Street.
“Morning, Harvey,” Winnie said. “I’ve been wondering where you’ve been this last year. I missed you.”
“Winnie, I was in here yesterday for breakfast. Don’t you remember?”
“No, Harvey. The last time I laid eyes on you was the Fourth of July last year.”
“Come on, Winnie. Stop kidding around,” Harvey said.
“Trust me. I haven’t seen you for one year, Harvey. I wouldn’t lie to you.”
“Then I’m going crazy, because I went home last night and fell asleep in my recliner as I do most nights, and I woke up this morning confused.”
“Do you notice anything new in here, Harvey?”
“Yeah, looks like you have added more chrome and laid new tiles. That’s a new jukebox over there.”
Winnie asked, “So, how did we change all of this overnight, Harvey?”
“I don’t know, but something very funny is going on here. Yesterday when I was here, you hadn’t remodeled. Now, today, the diner has taken on a new look.”
“I tell you the truth, Harvey,” Winnie said. “I have not laid eyes on you in a year.”
Harvey drove home, entered through his garage into the kitchen. Just a few short hours ago this place was covered with spider webs, and now since I took a broom to those linen strands. The kitchen is once more livable.
The more he thought about this confusing dilemma. He was determined to find out what happened to make everything seem like a dream.
Upstairs too was a conglomeration of dust and spider webs. He vacuumed the rooms and stripped the bed, washing the linen and coverlet. They appeared dirty, musty, and unattractive.
About mid-afternoon, the doorbell rang. Harvey went downstairs to answer the door. It was Brady Smith the morning paperboy. Actually, Brady was not a boy. He had taken the job after he retired from the paper mill in Cumberland Falls.
“What’s up, Brady?”
“Er—Mr. Fox, my boss, the owner of the newspaper would like money for the last six months I delivered papers to you.”
“What do you mean, Brady? I’ve always paid on time.”
“I know, Harvey. However, Mr. Fox asked me to collect for all those papers, I delivered to you these last few months."
“Okay,” Harvey said not wanting to argue with Brady. “How much do I owe you?”
“Let me see.” He wet his finger and turned several pages in a small black book he held. “It comes to $180. However, Mr. Fox said, if you pay now it will only cost you $100.
“I don’t have a hundred dollars, Brady. I don’t keep that much money on hand.”
“Mr. Fox also said, if you didn’t pay up by the first of next month. He would take you to small claims court, Harvey.”
“I’ll see what I can do, Brady.” There was no way he could come up with that kind of money by the first of the month.
To make matters even worse, Harvey wasn’t even sure he had his job at the paper mill. He thought he left there yesterday at four. However, today, he wasn’t sure of anything. He called his foreman at the mill.
“Hello, Shorty? Harvey Fogg.”
“What do you want, Harvey? I'm busy.”
“What shift am I on this week?”
“What? You ask what shift you are on? You haven’t been to work in over a year, and you want to know what shift you are working this week? You don’t have a job here anymore. I replaced you ten months ago when you didn’t have the common decency to call me and quit.”
“I didn’t quit, Shorty. I mean, I’m confused.”
“You’re confused? What do you think about me? I held your job open, as long as I could because you are a good worker, Harvey. However, there is a limit to how long I could hold your job. Anyway, if you want your job back. You will have to start fresh with a new application.”
“Yeah, okay Shorty. See ya.”
Harvey thought. If it is true, and I did sleep for twelve months. What can I do about it? I lost my job, and some of the people I knew have passed away. We had an election, and I don’t even know who won.
Is it possible for one to sleep for a year and wake to believe he had just dozed off? Harvey didn’t think so. However, all the evidence points to this exact thing he finds hard to believe.
In Portland, Harvey’s Aunt Louise reading the Bickford Gazette, a newspaper she subscribes to since leaving that town twenty years ago, shakes her head. “That darn fool nephew of mine,” she said, looking at a picture of her sister’s son. He never was too bright, you know. He hasn’t got the brains the good Lord gave him. He says, he only napped, and didn’t sleep for three-hundred and sixty-five days. That boy has been asleep a whole lot longer than a year. He flunked out of high school and went to work in the paper mill. An entry-level job at best.
“I hope my aunt didn’t see the paper this morning,” he told Winnie the waitress. “She’ll have a hay day. She never liked me, jealous of my mother who was twice as pretty as she, and smarter.
Tired of listening to Harvey’s old tale of woe said, “Well, Harvey. What’ll you have this morning?”
The usual, Winnie.” His usual consists of, two over medium, home fries, crisp bacon, and one slice of sourdough toast.
“Here you go, Harvey. Enjoy.” Winnie walked away before Harvey had a chance to retell the same-old story he’d bored her with since his episode.
Dexter Wyndham, the Police Chief of Bickford sat in a booth watching Harvey and Winnie talk. He knew what it was all about. He didn’t have to ask, and he wasn’t about to join in that lengthy diatribe. He left the money and a tip and sneaked out the rear door to avoid Harvey.
In the sleepy town of Bickford, all rumors fell upon the ears of Edith Tripp, the town’s gossip conduit. “Mabel, what do you think of that Harvey Fogg? He isn’t right in the head, you know. His father wasn’t all that bright either. I don’t believe that fool slept for a year. He just wants attention.” Mabel wasn’t able to get a word in edgewise. She just kept saying, ayah, Maine’s answer to every question. Ayah is used as an answer to an inquiry. It is also a solution to a debate one doesn’t know the solution.
Ned Blake, the town’s barber, talking to Ben Wright, said, “Did you hear about Harvey Fogg’s latest?”
“Yes, Mabel called my wife first thing this morning. The ink on the newspaper didn’t have time to dry before old Mabel put into motion her rumor mill.”
Ned said, “I wonder if old Harvey isn’t doing this for attention.
“Nope,” Ben said. “That’s the last thing Harvey wants is anyone to take notice of him.”
Harvey, afraid to give in to sleep, sat in his recliner and pondered this dilemma. How is this even possible? No man can sleep for a year; get up and carry on as if it had only been a dream.
That’s where Harvey was wrong. It can happen, and it did happen.
Finally, Harvey Fogg accepted the fact he’d slept for one year. How it happened. He did not know. He only knew that nothing of importance had changed one iota. The donkeys were still fighting the elephants. The COVid was still on a rampage, and our country was still over-spending; sending our money overseas and denying our indigent any relief at all. However, do-gooders in Congress are still taking care of others before our own.
Harvey said, ‘I do not know everything, but I do know that very little changes in a year.’
Harvey resigned himself to the fact. He was now, if not last week, more accepting of his long sleep. It was a weird happening, and hard to accept. However, with all the evidence weighed in the balances. He missed one whole year of life.
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