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1. It was an unexpected gift

2. Lampshade – convincing – goose (any or all)

3. I picked up the glasses and put them on


Clarice Carpenter was a Capricorn, but not a very good one. She knew her sign was supposed to have something to do with her life; however, she didn’t care enough to study up on it, and really never found it very convincing.

Actually, before that Thursday night, the only times Clarice had ever noticed her horoscope were those occasions when she really, really needed something to read and the only parts of the newspaper still unscanned were the horoscope column and a quarter page devoted to bridge, which held even less interest for her.

On that strange Thursday, however, Howard Sellers came back into her life by way of a hand-written note among the grocery flyers and utility bills in her morning mail.

Somebody selling insurance, she thought, as she picked up her glasses and put them on, but she slit the envelope anyway, and discovered the note, in green ink on a rather crumpled sheet of notepaper.

“Clarice,” the note said, “I don’t know if you’ll remember me. It has been a long time, and we weren’t the best of friends even then. If this weren’t so urgent (here the word “urgent” was crossed out and “important” superimposed)…… If this weren’t so important, I’d never bother you, but we need to talk. I’ll be at the Billingsgate Library every night at 7:00 for the next two weeks. I’m asking you, please, to come and see if you can help me.”

The signature was clear, but the face that went with it was not. Clarice knew the name. She’d gone to school with a Howard Sellers, she was sure, something like a million years ago. He was one of the oddballs, if she remembered correctly, one of that crowd who never quite fit. Clarice stood up suddenly, knocking the lampshade askew. Where did she put that old yearbook?

An hour later she sat at the kitchen table, the yearbook and a bunch of scattered papers in frnt of her. She’d completely forgotten the stories collected and stored in the old school annual, some of them hers, and some she now recalled written by friends that last week of high school.

There on page 37, within a gallery of smiling senior faces, she found Sellers, Howard, and it all came back to her.  Debate Team, Astrology Club, Hall Patrol. Howard was one of the geeks. They didn’t call it that way back when, but that’s what he was and his appearance showed it clearly. He was too tall, too thin, too solemn. He wore glasses and his goose neck held an Adam’s apple of gigantic proportions.