Published 10:07 am Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Navigating toward his destination, Dan brushed precariously close to such creatures that make men tremble.

He sensed their tusks and arms and tentacles as he passed. He heard their cries. Hisses and roars and bellows and screeches. Chirps and clicks and clashing of antlers.

Quickening his pace, he rounded the corner, and to his left, overheard conversations that confounded the average man. They were discussing such topics as the nature of man, the concept of beauty and the existence of goodness.

Philosophers they were, so lost in the activity of the moment they scarcely noticed his presence. With gnarled foreheads, they contemplated the great ideas of the day.

No less intense were their companions, abiding close by, lecturing on the intricacies of the scientific world. One was passionately defending his theory as to a five billion-year-old earth, while another refuted such notions as disregarding the evidences readily observed by the most elementary of scientific minds.

Weighing in with interest were the astronomers and physicists, wondering what the implications of the conclusions would be in their field of study.

His thoughts being elsewhere, Dan took little notice as he plowed on. His interest was somewhat aroused as he overheard the discussion on the human anatomy, and he wanted to tarry if for no other reason than his own body was encountering problems.

The subject matter varied from hands and hearts to spleens and splinters. From influenza to inoculations, from arthritis to aneurisms.

As he rubbed his wrists, wondering the cause of their stiffness, he considered a pause, but decided not. Perhaps another time.

Over his head and to the right, he overheard what seemed to be a storyteller. He was very good. So good, in fact, that Dan stopped.

As the storyteller weaved his tale, Dan realized this was a story from a far off land. Seemingly against his will, he found himself in the midst of a grand battle, storming a castle through a hail of arrows.

Dan himself was leading the charge as an army 10,000 strong followed on his heels.

Just as abruptly, the story ended, not because of the storyteller, but rather someone else had captured Dan’s interest. For straight ahead and to the left was her soft seductive voice.

She was enchanting and spoke of love in such ways that Dan had never heard. His heart seemed to swell, and he yearned to know her, to experience her, to surround himself with her.

How could her words be so powerful? How did she know his heart so intimately?

Glancing at his watch, Dan tore himself away and ran past the remaining company. Past the artists and mathematicians and musicians. Around the beauticians and craftsmen and electricians. Through a thousand beckoning voices issuing invitation.

For Dan had realized he was late for his appointment. As he rushed outside to his car, the double glass doors of Jenkins Memorial Library swung behind him.

REX ALPHIN of Walters is a farmer, businessman, author, county supervisor and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is