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My Favorite Pen Memory
A short story
from the fountain pen of William Stevens
The Pygmies made scarcely a sound as they led me at spearpoint to their village of tiny mud huts. If I hadnąt been trembling with fear I would have had to laugh at the scene since the big black pot boiling noisily over a fire pit was such a cliché from the jungle movies I watched at the Center Theater every Saturday afternoon as a boy. But there was one noteworthy difference: while the natives in the movies always displayed wild-eyed hostility, these Pygmies were intensely inquisitive. They pointed tiny fingers toward my belt buckle, my shirt buttons, my shoe laces, but above all at my shirt pocket and the clip of my Sheaffer, a gift from my sainted grandmother who told me when I departed, "write twice a week and stay away from Pygmies."

I uncapped the pen and wrote in my notebook in shaky block letters, "I REALLY HOPE THESE LITTLE GUYS DONąT EAT ME." The Pygmies were marginally interested in the fact that the thing from my pocket could make marks, but more engrossed by the glint of the tropical sun off the stub nib.

Suddenly, a particularly large Pygmy of about 4'2" burst out of the most elaborate of the huts and approached me, thumping a dangerous looking spear on the ground as he rattled the skull of some small animal. The last shreds of my hope evaporated when I recognized that the spear was decorated with a daisy-chain of desiccated human ears. The menacing miniature approached, an inhuman growl building in his throat, and put his spear tip to my ear as he shook the skull in the direction of the boiling cauldron. Who was he? Medicine man? Chief Executioner? Someone with a preference for Italian pens? It didnąt make any difference, because I knew my ears were about to join the chain.

In desperation I held my Sheaffer high over my head and began singing the only tune that I could retrieve from my near-paralyzed mind: the theme song from "Petticoat Junction". The Pygmies (including the big one with the threatening spear) fell suddenly silent and all eyes focused on my pen. I sang louder, modulating to a minor key and "Gilligan's Island", and slowly and ceremoniously I extended the penąs snorkel. The Pygmies made a guttural sound like like a clogged drain opening and fell to their knees, their hands covering their privates.

The next few hours are not clear in my memory as a result of copious amounts of some bitter liquid served from a gourd; but to make a very long story short, I ended up with a sweet little wife (literally little), twin Pyglets with names which cannot be rendered in English, and authority over an entire village of Pygmies who know me as Gambasa Sheafoo Ba-Snorkel. And now I get to carry the skull rattle.

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