The Burt Kristbaum Adventures

by P. M. Kalayeh

1. Goodbye's

It felt good to be on an adventure. I got this special coat, some boots, and my own typewriter. I was supposed to write down everything I saw. FW thought it would be good for the next book: The Burt Kristbaum Adventures: A manual for the beginning explorer. I agreed with him. I told him I would take lots of notes.

“Good,” he said.

“Yeah,” I agreed.

We were at the harbor. A bunch of interns were packing the ship with supplies: goatskin water bottles, seal fat, and compasses. All the necessities for an adventure. At least that’s what they said.

“All the necessities for an adventure,” they said.

I nodded. I didn’t want to look confused. I don’t think it worked. Someone asked if I was okay.

“You okay?” they asked.

I told them I was.

“You sure?” they asked again.

“Yeah,” I said.

“Well, you don’t look it.”

I turned around. It was him. I couldn’t believe it. He had his top hat, the combat boots, everything. He looked just like the cover for Arctic Explorer. Issue #407.

I didn’t know what to say. I was pretty embarrassed.

“Don’t worry,” he said, with a smile. “You were born for this.”

That made me feel better. There were lots of people at Phipps Inc. who thought I wasn’t. They didn’t think it was safe. They said I would get killed by angry villagers, or wander into a tiger trap before I even got to write a single line of the manual.

“Oh, don’t believe that,” he said, and smiled again.

I tried to smile back. I don’t think it had the same affect. When he smiled, it made everyone around him excited. You could feel what was behind it: Arctic winters, dangerous glaciers, charging elephants, you name it. When I smiled, it was different. I know. I tried it in the mirror. Nothing happened.

“You ready for an adventure?” he asked me.

I told him I was.

“Good,” he said. “Then we should be off.”

He tipped his top hat to FW and walked towards a couple interns. They were carrying a vat of seal fat. It looked heavy. He just leaned down, and pulled it up on his shoulders. Man, he was strong. FW agreed. He said I was in good hands.

“You’re in good hands,” he said.

I agreed.

“Well,” he said.

It was sad to say goodbye. He had been a real good guy. He taught me a lot, you know? I told him so too. Then I gave him a big hug. I think he really needed it. He held me for a long time. I didn’t mind though. Some people don’t get enough hugs. I know. Nataraja and I talked about it. He said people needed at least 11 hugs a day. If they didn’t, there was something wrong.

“If they don’t, there’s something wrong,” he said.

I understood what he meant. Lately, Mary didn’t want to touch me. She said it made her sick. I didn’t get upset though. I knew she was just upset, because I was going on an adventure and might get killed by charging elephants or angry villagers.

I tried to reassure her. I told her how explorers had to take risks, that it was all in the name of science, but she didn’t want to hear it. She was too upset.

“I’m too upset,” she said.

I gave her a hug. I think it made her feel better. She kissed me a little. Then she did something else. It was nice. I thought she’d come say goodbye after that, but she didn’t. She wrote me a letter instead. She said it said everything she had to say.

“Read it when you start missing me,” she said.

I read it as soon as I got on the ship. I missed her already.

Letter 3245.63

Re: Exploration

If you die, I’ll kill you.



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Preface by Fifth Wheel