• Writings From a Past Life: Hobart the … Something

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    This week’s “Writings From a Past Life” comes from the baseball-obsessed mind of a David Duhr of indeterminate age. Friends have asked why baseball crops up in so much of my writing. I don’t have an answer for that (outside of “Because I like baseball”), but this story is representative of most of my writings from youth. I’m sure there’s a clue in here somewhere.

    The original title was “Hobart the Robotfly,” but the third word is crossed out in black ink, and “Horsefly” is written above it in my own hand. Note that in the story, Hobart is referred to as a robotfly, and his friend Howard is a housefly. At no point does a horsefly appear in the narrative. A little authorial misdirection never hurt anyone.

    First the story (which contains a brief prologue and plenty of [sic]), then the explication.

    Hobart theĀ Robotfly Horsefly

    His name is Hobart. He lives in anything he finds. He eats smaller bugs and plants. He’s is a baseball superstar in very LITTLE LEAGUE.

    There was once a talented bug named Hobart. In Very Little League this year he hit 26 homers, his longest one being 13 inches. That’s a record in his league.

    Hobart had problems, though. He only had 1 friend because he bragged too much.

    His friends name was Howard. Howard was a housefly, but Hobart was a robotfly. That was a new kind of bug.

    At the V.L.L. World Series he was batting 4th as usual.

    In the first inning he belted a three-run homer. “I’m great! I’m awesome! I’ll be the MVP!” said Hobart.

    In the 3rd inning (wich was the last), he came up with the bases loaded, 2 out, 3-2 count, losing by 3 runs. If it was a homer his team would win.

    The pitch came in. Foul ball. Hobart breathed a sigh of relief. He dug in. The pitch! Strike three!! They lost the World Series!

    You may be wondering why the third strike merits two exclamation points, while the loss of the (Very Little League) World Series deserves only one. Falling action, my friends. The third strike is clearly the climax of the piece, and the loss of the World Series is the consequence of that climax. It’s a rather quick, but still classic, denouement.

    This fatalistic fable comes with a drawing of protagonist Hobart the Robotfly. Hobart has a square, antennaed head, a thorax that appears to be a perfect circle, the abdomen of a bumblebee (although young Duhr couldn’t bring himself to draw a scary stinger), and what appear to be four dragonfly-like wings. There is nothing–repeat, nothing–about Hobart to indicate any sort of robotics at work. And the narrative itself never addresses the protagonist’s species, outside of a casual mention of Hobart being a “new kind of bug” that “lives in anything he finds.”

    Young Duhr seems to be saying, “Hobart is a robotfly, dear reader, because I say he is. Come to terms with it on your own.”

    As writers, we’re allowed to do that.

    There’s a moral at work here. Hobart is proud of his greatness and awesomeness. He eats smaller bugs, seems to live where he pleases, and no doubt bullies his one and only friend, Howard. The author gives no indication of how long the Very Little League season runs, but his 26 homers appear to be noteworthy (not to mention the 13″ blast, which I sincerely hope is still the record). But when the game is on the line, mighty Hobart–after a rather strange and inexplicable moment of relief–lets the team down.

    The moral? Technology cannot save us. The brightest minds of the insect world came together to build a perfect beast, a genetically-engineered superspecies that should have been able to dominate all other insects in all arenas. Even the name Hobart plays a role, as it means “brightest spirit, inspiration, or intellect” (there are no accidents). But Hobart, this Terminator of the insect world, couldn’t even win a simple baseball game. When his team needed him the most, he whiffed. Just like science and technology will whiff when we need them the most.

    Heavy stuff for an 8-year-old (+/-).

    There is one (more) thing the writer leaves to the imagination, and it’s a biggie: does Hobart swing and miss, or does he take a called third strike? I can’t even wrap my head around the implications of a called third strike. Injustice, impotence, bug’s inhumanity to bug. It’s too much.

    So until I can figure it all out, I’d like to express my most sincere apologies to Ernest Thayer and his family. And if there’s any left over, it can go out to Kafka.

    Stay tuned for future “Writings From a Past Life.” We’re taking submissions, so feel free to pass along your own youthful fumblings. Submissions can go by email to David@WriteByNight.net. Send as Word attachments, or copy/paste into the body of your email. And provide a brief bio so we can let readers know where to find more of your work.

    (And don’t think there won’t be a “robotfly” tag in this post, because I’ve already added it.)

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