13 Feb Ray Bradbury
Joe Pipkin was the greatest boy who ever lived. The grandest boy who ever fell out of a tree and then laughed at the joke. The finest boy who ever raced around the track, winning, seeing his friends a mile back somewhere, stumbled and fell, waited form the to catch up, and joined, breast and breast, breaking the winner’s tape. The jolliest boy who ever hunted out all the haunted houses in town, which are hard to find, and came back to report on them and take all the kids to ramble through the basements and scramble up the ivy outside-bricks and shout down the chimneys and make water off the roofs, hooting and chimpanzee-dancing and ape-bellowing. The day Joe Pipkin was born all the Orange Crush and Nehi soda bottles in the world fizzed over; and joyful bees swarmed countrysides to sting maiden ladies. On his birthdays, the lake pulled out from the shore in midsummer and ran back with a tidal wave of boys, a big leap of bodies and a downcrash of laughs.
Dawn, laying in bed, you heard a birdpeck at the window. Pipkin.
You stuck your head out in the snow-water-clear-summer-morning air.
There in the dew on the lawn rabbit prints showed where, just a moment ago, not a dozen rabbits but one rabbit had circled and crisscrossed in a glory of life and exultation, bounding hedges, clipping ferns, tromping clover. It resembled the switchyards down at the rail depot. A million tracks in the grass but no…
And here he rose like a wild sunflower in the garden. His great round face burned with fresh sun. His eyes flashed Morse code signals:
“Hurry up! It’s almost over!”
“Today! Now! Six A.M.! Dive down! Wade in it!”
Or: “This summer! Before you know, bang! – it’s gone! Quick!”
And he sank away in sunflowers to come up all onions.
Pipkin, oh, dear Pipkin, finest and loveliest of boys.
How he ran so fast no one knew. His tennis shoes were ancient. They were colored green of forests jogged through, brown from old harvest trudges through September a year back, tarstained from sprints along the docks and beaches where the coal barges came in, hyellow from careless dogs, splinter-filled from climbing wood fences. His clothes were scarecrow clothes, worn by Pipkin’s dogs all night, loaned to them for strolls through town, with chew marks along the cuffs and fall marks on the seat.
His hair? His hair was a great hedgehog bristle of bright brown-blond daggers sticking in all directions. His ears, pure peachfuzz. His hands, mittened with dust and the good smell of airedales and peppermint and stolen peaches from the far country orchards.
Pipkin. An assemblage of speeds, smells, textures; a cross section of all the boys who ever ran, fell, got up, and ran again.
No one, in all the years, had ever seen him sitting still. He was hard to remember in school, in one seat, for one hour. He was the last into the schoolhouse and the first exploded out when the bell ended the day.
Pipkin, sweet Pipkin.
Who yodeled and played the kazoo and hated girls more than all the other boys in the gang combined.
Pipkin, whose arm around your shoulder and secret whisper of great doings this day, protected you from the world.
God got up early just to see Pipkin come out of his house, like one of those people on a weather clock. And the weather was always fine where Pipkin was.