I know these two guys, Hairdevil Pennysworth and Hairdevil Norington. I know, I thought it was weird too that they had the same first name. A name that I am not entirely certain of the origins of. Nor am I truly confident that it isn’t hyphenated or doesn’t have an umlaut. The irony that both of these men have shaved pates while having the name Hairdevil is not lost on me. For the sake of avoiding confusion and rambling any further, I will refer to them as Pennysworth and Norington.
It was morning, we were drinking coffee. The sad puppies debacle had given us something to talk about. When the conversation began to veer like a great drunken baby. Soon after the quippy quote “Best Old-Fashioned SF the Way It Used to Be,” Robert E. Howard and Michael Moorcock were topics of conversation. From there it was all a blur, at least for a moment. I remember there were several points about the representation of the racial divide in Howard’s works. Look, it was the early 1900’s when he wrote the bulk of his work, society was different then. Although, judging by the news, not much different. Maybe he would still be a jerk, I digress.
Maybe Pennysworth coffee was irish, maybe he just has a blatant disregard for spoiler alerts. For in the blink of an eye, he spilled the beans about the ending of a Moorcock story. I looked at Norington and said, “Well I guess we won’t have to read that one. Thanks for saving us three hundred pages, Pennysworth.” I finished.
Before I get into what Pennysworth did next I would like to offer you, the reader, a way out. Assuming you have come this far. If you, for some reason have not read To Kill a Mockingbird or if you chased the events of it out of your head with booze, this is your chance to stop. I won’t be offended if you stop, but you may be disappointed.
Pennysworth laughed deep from his belly as he absent-mindedly tightened the lid on metal coffee mug to the point that I thought it would shatter. He hid the search for his rebuttal behind a veil of a normal ambiguously late twenties, early thirty-somethings man. Once he had decided his intent with his next phrase, his laughter transformed into a cackle. Spittle frothed at the corners of his mouth and insanity gleamed in his eyes. A drop of blood welled at the edge of the canal of his right ear, “Yes! The world basically ends and they kill Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird!”
Cat’s out of the bag now, if you didn’t know and you didn’t stop reading, that is on you. The big coincidence here is, unknowingly to Pennysworth I am reading To Kill a Mockingbird. I – mostly – read when I was a kid for the big book report, skipping pages, skimming for the plot points. I’ve wanted to read it in its entirety for years. I know what happens. I know what is coming. As of the night before this conversation, I just happen to be on page two seventy eight. Atticus has just sent the kids home with Calpurnia. The jury is heading to deliberations. I am at the exact point where a spoiler like this is most damaging. I have put in the time only to have the reward ripped from my hands at the very end. I could imagine what it would be like if I didn’t know and gave Pennysworth the business about it.
Pennysworth and I are on amicable terms. I am going to finish reading To Kill A Mockingbird. Perhaps everyone should read it, whether they have done so before or not. As I previously stated, society doesn’t seem to have changed that much. If it has, it still has a long way to go. There doesn’t seem to be enough Finches and far too many Ewells.