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Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

fubuki commented: "coolness! love this-- could you spare a min for the backstory? sweet

 

The backstory:

 

Ok. So I love to go to garage sales. When I used to live in Champaign, some days I would put 60 miles on the car while garage sailing; I've toned it down a bit now, but I still have the bug. These days, it's rarely over 30-45 miles here in DeKalb and Sycamore IL.

 

Well, last summer one day I was cruising through Sycamore, on an off street that I had never been down before. It was late, around 5 PM or so, and the sales were almost gone-- I was scraping the bottom of the barrel. Anyway, on this side street I saw a sign for a sale on an even sider street. I drive there, looking at the house numbers thinking that the sale would be gone, but when I get to the number, I see an old man on the porch in a wooden rocking chair.

 

He looked just like William S. Burroughs. Snap brim hat-- everything. So, I pull up and get out of my car, leaving the engine running (many sales can be instantly sized up as worthless and I don't like to waste the gas on restarting the car) and ask if his sale is still open. He looks up, and in a constipated gravely drone says: "Out back." The exterior of the house was neatly kept, almost overkept. As I rounded the house I was amazed by the beautiful English country garden in the rear. There was even a stream. Someone had obviously made the garden a work of love. There were card tables, a picnic table, old kitchen tables and so on with the stuff on them.

 

Most of the stuff didn't interest me: old bottles, old mostly broken tools, kitchen stuff, a humidifier, some uninteresting books, etc.... It was on the last table that I saw them: Israeli military night vision goggles! For $5.00! With their case! I shit you not. I snagged them like an old lady seeing a rare procelain figurine. I was in one of those states where I hardly saw anything else on the tables. I was so excited. Well, I calmed down and looked for more killer items, but saw nothing.

 

Somewhat reluctantly I went back to the old man to buy the goggles. He looked up and said, "Allright, but you gotta promise me to take Baby Jane too." I'm thinking, "Baby Jane?!" He reaches down and pulls this doll out of a sack, wads up the sack and throws it in the corner, then thrusts the doll up at me. It happend so fast I was kind of taken aback. Especially by the dolls appearance. All the hair had been clipped off, leaving neat rows of stubble. The eyes had been brutally replaced: a potentiometer in the left socket with the tuner horribly facing inward and an unidentifiable metal socket in the right. The mouth was muted by some piece of circuitry. A few wires now stood in place of the hair on each side of the head in a mockery of happy-girl pigtails.

 

I looked at it wondering what he was going to make me pay for the "doll" so I could get the night-vision goggles. He snarled at me, "It's free! Now do you got $5.00 or don't ya?" I gave him five, accepted the doll and thanked him. He tipped his hat and winked and I went back to my still running car and drove home.

 

Baby Jane sits on the bookshelf beside my bed next to the clock. She speaks to me in my dreams even as I am awake. Am I slowly changing? After a while there are still the goggles for seeing in the night.

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Taken on January 23, 2005