Close your eyes. No really, close them and don’t open them until I tell you. I’m blowing the dust off my blog and I’d hate for an errant speck to tickle your cornea.
Okay, you can open them.
I’m sitting in my office (I had an office built! No more working in the dark, laundry-filled corner of my bedroom!) feeling the stare of Herschel pressing down on my shoulders like a set of football pads. Like my blog, he too is dusty but he wears it well. Herschel is beautiful yet not (currently) functional save for the energy he brings and the ghostly faint tap-tap-tap-clunk-zip! sounds I can hear when I listen hard.
In the late 1920’s, someone gave Herschel a regular beating, a thing he rather enjoyed until an indeterminate moment in time when he was orphaned and bounced from place to place before finally landing in a warehouse filled with other orphans. This warehouse is where I found him, forgotten and timid, hiding behind a rusty tractor wheel of similar age.
I paid my fee and heaved him out to my car, gently placing him snug in the corner of my SUV. I stood triumphant, catching my breath from the exertion of carrying my nearly-forty pound friend and I said aloud, “I’ll call you Herschel.”
Herschel’s placed high on a shelf in my new creative space, watching over me. He once was common and utilitarian, but to me he is grand. His tape sags and his register doesn’t move properly. His long arms are attached to ball bearings making his strike easy and swift. Although he holds no paper, I sometimes press his round keys to see the beauty of his mechanics.
“PND-4” is carved into the metal on his black plate, next to a dried, faded label bearing the same inscription in Hershel’s own type, no doubt.
Did his previous owner write love letters to his betrothed or unemployment notices to desperate men with hungry families during the Great Depression? Does the sticky dust clinging to his inner folds hold the dead skin cells of passionate writers or feverish journalists? Are the dried flowers buried in his recesses remains of a desktop bouquet, revealing clues about the previous owner or the travels of my metal mentor?
Does Hershel carry a ghost writer with him? A ghost who’s story has yet to be finished who somehow found its way to me to carry on the legacy? Is the weight of Hershel’s presence a celestial push to write the thing I do not yet know, but that lives in me the way Herschel’s stories live in him?
I’m not sure but I like to think that perhaps in a past life I was the writer pressing my fingers into Herschel’s keys. Perhaps I’m the ghost who’s found its way home through this old typewriter, waiting for my story to be told.