farm song

"Your song is ending sir. It is returning. It is returning through the dark. And then, Doctor… oh, but then…he will knock four times."

'Your song is ending, sir. Sir? Hey, buddy, your song’s ending.'

He blinked, forcing himself to focus on his freckle-faced, pig-tailed, gum-chewing dance partner. She blew a particularly large bubble, pink and aromatic, and very sticky when it burst on the end of his nose.

'Oh, golly, Doc, I’m sorry,' the girl told him, dabbing it off his skin with the rest of the gooey glob pulled from her mouth. She smiled sweetly and he forgave her instantly. 'Didja want another song?'

'What?' he asked, wiping his nose with the back of his hand.

'Another song?'

'Is it over already?'

'They done played it four times,' she told him, popping her chewing gum back into her mouth before straightening her rumpled frock. He realised he had been holding her rather closely. It was that sort of song.

Love me tender,
Love me dear,
Tell me you are mine.
I'll be yours through all the years,
Till the end of...

'No, no,' he said, looking down at his watch then around the mostly empty dance hall. A lone figure clad in a leather jacket stood in the shadows. The night watchman, he supposed. 'Time I should go, I expect.'

'Yeah. It’s almost 11 o’clock,' the girl told him. 'You know where to find me, though. See you next Friday night?'


'You been comin’ ‘round every Friday since you got here.'

'Have I?' he asked, not entirely remembering when it was he’d first arrived in the area. He was rather sure he had been trying to forget there had ever been a time he hadn’t been here. 'Friday then,' he agreed, turning to leave. 'Good night, Rose.'

'Daisy,' she called after him
'Daisy,' he sang to himself.

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do,
I’m half crazy… 

'Good night Daisy Rose.'

The rickety, old blue Chevy truck coughed and jolted and though he talked sweetly to the old girl she finally puttered to a halt about four miles out of town. He banged his head against the steering wheel. Rubbish recharged battery. This era in Earth’s history did have its drawbacks. He sat back with a sigh, then scooted across the seat to lift the door latch on the passenger side. The driver‘s side had been jammed for weeks but this one… no longer worked either. It clicked and clunked and wouldn’t budge. In the end he slid open the back window and squeezed through the narrow space, dropping into the hay-filled bed of the truck with a thud. He found a torch amid empty sacks of chicken feed and binder twine, then swung his long legs over the duct-taped tailgate. From there it was a short drop to the gravel road. The stars watched him. He whistled while he worked. Then sang: 

I know a ditty nutty as a fruitcake
Goofy as a goon and silly as a loon
Some call it pretty, others call it crazy
But they all sing this tune:

Mairzy doats and dozy doats
and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, wouldn't you?
Yes! Mairzy doats and dozy doats
and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, wouldn't you? 

'You know, if you stand in the dark singing nonsense, people may begin to wonder what you’re about.' He started, banging his head soundly on the rim of the bonnet.

'Oh, I say!' said the little man standing beside him, 'I am sorry. I didn’t mean to frighten you, young man. Though I must say, that was a catchy little ditty you were singing there. Care to hum a bit more so I can play along?'

He watched as the mop-headed hobo pulled a recorder from his pocket and held it to his lips.

'Go on. I’m ready.'

But he could no longer remember the words or the tune.

'I’m sorry. I seem to have lost it.'

'Really?' the little man said, looking terribly dejected as he tucked the recorder back into his pocket. 'That is a shame.'

'It’s been happening a lot lately,' he said, picking the torch up and aiming it at the engine.
'Perhaps you should see a Doctor about that,' the little man advised.

'I am a Doctor,' he replied absently, 'but I’ve given it up. I’m going to grow wheat and raise chickens instead.'

'I see,' said the hobo, nodding his understanding. 'You’re running away from something, aren’t you?'

'Oh yes,' he replied, letting the bonnet down with a clunk. He tightened it down with a length of cord. 'But you mustn’t let them find me. They’ve been calling, you know. But they won’t let me bring my chickens. You’ll keep my secret, won’t you?'

'What? Oh, yes, yes. I suppose I must. Of course, my boy, of course. You realise, I hope, that you can only run so far before you catch up with yourself?'

'So I’ve been told. That’s why I’m walking.'

They stood together under the stars, gazing at the far off light in the peak of the barn in the valley below.

'It’s all down hill from here,' the hobo told him with a sigh. 'What say I give you a little push and we’ll see if we can get you on your way?'

As the truck rolled down hill he jammed the gear lever into first and popped the clutch. Once… twice… he was running out of hill… but on the third try the truck chugged into life and he puttered on down the road toward the farm, leaving the hobo behind. As he drove he heard the recorder softly playing a tune he might once have known.

He climbed the steps into the old house and draped his coat over the hat stand beside the door. He took off his going-into-town hat and put on his going-into-the-barn hat. As he passed through the kitchen, he paused for a biscuit and to survey the checker board on the butcher block table. Not many moves left now. He made a calculated jump, capturing one piece, avoiding the trap his opponent had set up. Satisfied, he went down the back steps, deftly avoiding the wobbly one at the bottom, and crossed the yard to the barn.

'Hello, Bessie,' he told the cow, thankful she was not jumping over the moon. 'Hello Frobisher,' he told the penguin as they skated past one another on a patch of ice.

'Hello, Norman,' he tipped his hat to the llama as he walked by the stall.

'Evenin‘, Doctor.'

A chicken fluttered like a feathered cannonball from the loft above, landing on his head.

'And hello, Boo Boo Bird!' he said, sweeping her under one arm as he made the rest of his evening rounds. He latched the hen house door and gathered eggs, then tossed hay to everyone who needed it.

Cowzy tweet and sowzy tweet
and libble sharksy doisters…

'Great balls of fire, man! I hope there aren’t any sharks in here.'

He spun round, dropping the dozing chicken in his arms. Boo Boo squawked in protest, then regained her composure, ruffled her feathers, and went off to scratch about in the corner of the barn. Quick as a raptor, she slew three mice and ate their eyeballs.

'Sorry, old boy, for barging in at this late hour,' the Eccentric Fellow who lived further up the lane said, 'but I was wondering if you have a spare thermal wave modifier anywhere about. I‘m having difficulty maintaining the proper heat differential in the multi-slotted carbohydrate production module.'

'You mean the toaster doesn’t work?'


He looked around the barn at all manner of farm implements, none of which seemed to fit the bill.

'I have a kettle and some string. Oh, and a full barrel of cracked corn.'

'Yes, I can see that,' the Eccentric Fellow said dryly. 'Perhaps in your workshop?'

'My what?'

'Your workshop, there,' the Eccentric Fellow gestured toward the large blue box in the corner, surrounded on three sides with hay and draped over the top with a tarp.

'Oh, that' he said. 'That’s not a workshop. Not really. It‘s a space ship.'

'You don’t say.'

'Oh, yes. But it’s retired. And… I seem to have lost the key.'

'I see,' his guest replied, taking a seat on a bale of hay next to where a shiny key swung on a long cord.

'Have you gotten your time machine to work?' he asked as he picked up his broom and began to tidy up. A place for everything and everything in its…

'If I had, we’d have already had this conversation.' the Eccentric Fellow replied with a warm, conspiratorial smile.

'But I’d remember that,' he said.

'Not if we haven’t had it yet.'

'I see.'

'Do you?'

He wasn’t entirely sure.

'Have you asked the Tinker?' he asked. 'He has all sorts of bits and bobs.'

'What, old Teeth and Curls? He’s mad as a box of frogs. Do you know he’s built a tin dog in his workshop?'

'Really? I like dogs.'

The Eccentric Fellow checked his watch. 'I say, old chap, it’s time for me to be off. And you as well. By the way, here’s your key.'

Key? He wondered. Key to what?

He lay awake and dreamed of dreaming. And in his dreams-that-weren’t, Cutesy the Talking Thimble regaled him with tales of yesteryear, the beach sand felt warm against his toes, and Good Queen Bess let down her ginger tresses and laughed. Ood Sigma stood in the snow, beckoning him.

'Doctor, you must come.'

'Can’t you see I‘m busy?' He rolled over.

'Doctor, there is little time…'

He pulled a pillow over his head and squeezed his eyes shut. 'I can’t hear you,' he sang stubbornly.

'Doctor, he will knock four times…' 

'And I wont hear him if I stay here.'