The Truth About One-Eyed Uncle George Part 5

The Truth About One-Eyed Uncle George

Serial Story # 5

Harold Frakes and Patti Stutzman

As Lila and George approached the mansion, George began to remember. Looking at the large front door, the shutters by the windows, the patterned brickwork, his childhood days came flooding back to him. He heard his parents' voices, and his sister, the whinny of a horse, and he saw the beautiful garden and Clark the gardener. George put his arm out to stop Lila.

"The drumming has stopped," he said looking off to the right. "Before we look inside, we need to check on the carriage house." Lila was confused, but quietly followed George.

Across a gravel drive they could see and hear the bees surrounding the barn, and the swarm was beckoning them towards the barn door. George quietly whispered, "Lila, that is where I lost my eye. The accident happened in the barn." Lila caught her breath, gasped slightly, but said nothing.

George sat down on a tree stump and told Lila the true story of how he lost his left eye. His father was "The Amazing Nevil Withers, Magician Extraordinaire", and George at 14 years of age, was his assistant. The Withers family employed several local people to help with the duties of caring for the mansion. A cook, a driver, a housekeeper and a gardener. George was especially fond of Clark, the gardener, spending his free time learning about the flowers, vegetables, and herbs. Clark taught him to make "potions" and poultices to heal ailments, as well as help people dream and see things that aren't really there. One night after George's lesson, he stayed to practice on his own. George was in the carriage house at the end of the barn where all the herbs were strung and vials of medicinal tinctures and ointments were kept. It was an evening in late winter, a full moon high in the sky when George's life took a disastrous turn.

"Lila, you need to hear the whole story, not just about the accident that took my eye, but the domino effect that followed," George said to her as they sat looking at the aged building that used to be filled with animals, wagons, carts and the magician's workshop. George continued, "Losing my eye was actually the least of the terrible things that happened that night. You see, I was just a kid, learning the tricks of the trade of the magic world. My father taught me the basic sleight of hand tricks and how to engage the audience with a flourish that is the secret to hiding the truth. He was working on creating a new rabbit trick, one that would truly astound the audience. I came up with an idea to use a potion that would make the rabbit squeal, as though he is talking. This would be a one of a kind trick that no audience before had witnessed. It would make the Amazing Nevil the top magician and bring in more ticket money than one could imagine. Father had been worried about the waning magic business, and how to keep the banker from knocking on his door. I wanted to save the business for him."

Lila interrupted him, "Whoa, wait a minute. You're saying you were going to use a potion to make the rabbit talk? This town has always had an old legend about a talking rabbit. Did it work? Was that a talking rabbit we spotted in the garden?" Lila asked, pointing behind them. "Tell me George, I need to know."

"In time my dear. Now let me see, where was I? Oh yes, I was mixing up a potion for the rabbit. Once the potion was mixed, I filled a syringe and went to Jack's cage to inject him. All seemed fine for a minute, then Jack's eyes began to twitch and he jumped. Mind you he was still in the cage, so he jumped up against the top making the entire cage nearly fall off the bench. I wanted to witness the full effect the potion had on Jack, so I let him out of the cage. That rabbit took off like a kangaroo! He jumped all over the place, onto the carriage top, under the workbench, around in circles and then he jumped onto a shelf near the ceiling and then down onto the bench with the box of vials. An enormous crash took place, which brought Father running. As he entered the carriage house, Jack took one strong leap towards him and with a loud squeal was out the door in a flash. In all the excitement, I failed to put down the syringe, and accidentally raised my arm and shot my left eye with the remaining potion."

"George, that must have been painful!" Lila said sympathetically.

"More than you know. My eyeball became a fireball. Father tried to rub ointment on it, which made matters worse. He pulled me along to the milkhouse and poured fresh milk over my face. He then called for Clark to take me to Dr. Porter's house. After telling Doc the whole story, he insisted I be taken to the hospital for treatment. Here's where the dominoes start to fall," George said.

George shared the rest of the story with Lila. Word quickly spread through town about the incident with Jack the Rabbit and young George being hospitalized. It was the time of year magicians began to book their shows for the upcoming season. Mr. Withers did not receive any responses from the usual fairs and theaters where he had previously played. Mr. Huber from the bank made a few visits to inquire about Mr. Withers' ability to repay his loans. Mrs. Withers fell into a deep depression and was unable to manage the help. The help found other employment. Mrs. Withers purchased a train ticket and left the mansion and her family. Mr. Withers put the mansion up for sale, as well as his Magic show paraphernalia, and the artistically painted wagon with "Amazing Nevil, Magician Extraordinaire" scripted in metallic gold paint on the side. The show was over. Mr. Withers arranged for George and his sister to live with relatives. Jack the Rabbit became feral and fathered many unique little bunnies.

Lila and George sat in silence allowing the story to gently come to its end. George was about to tell Lila the last detail about Jack the Rabbit. He raised his hands in a flourish as his father had taught him, and it was then that the dragons appeared in the weedy mess of a garden.