The Misfits

A famil­iar face at the Avon flea mar­ket every Sun­day since the 60’s, Wal­ter would spend the cooler morn­ings in search of the maimed and aban­doned toys of chil­dren no longer. He rarely paid more than ten or fif­teen cents a piece for the rav­aged fig­ures as most were miss­ing limbs or heads. The col­lec­tion being assem­bled was not about con­di­tion, resale or profit.

These were much more than idols made of plas­tic and vinyl, for Wal­ter could feel the spir­its and hear the dis­tant laugh­ter of the many chil­dren who had once wor­shiped these love-worn toys. To him, these toys were mark­ers in lives unfold­ing, indeli­bly printed with the char­ac­ter of those who had played with them so many years ago. Hold­ing each one in his now aging hand, he would lis­ten to its story and won­der what had become of the child later in life.

Wal­ter enjoyed many com­fort­able evenings with the col­lec­tion in the old farm house nes­tled in the rolling hills of upstate New York. He had retired here after a life­time of invent­ing and design­ing use­ful things for var­i­ous com­pa­nies and then spent the next twenty some years assem­bling the col­lec­tion that now filled not only all three floors of the house, but his barn as well.

This past win­ter Wal­ter began work­ing on his Gep­petto project. He hoped to design a sys­tem to cap­ture the psy­chic energy he felt being released from the old toys and use it to power the robot toy he was building.

It was now late fall and the the robot body, com­plete with arms and legs, sat on the work bench await­ing its head and power source. It was one of those unusu­ally warm and sun filled days that are so rare this time of year, per­haps the last one before the snow would again cocoon Wal­ter with his col­lec­tion for another win­ter. Drawn by the cun­ning day, he found him­self walk­ing through the Naples yel­low fields beyond the barn. Feel­ing the lia­bil­ity of his eighty plus years, he sat down beneath the com­fort of the large and sin­gu­lar Maple in the mid­dle of the fields warmth and fell asleep.

Wal­ter was awak­ened by the voices of chil­dren to find he was cov­ered by what looked like a soft blan­ket of dia­monds glis­ten­ing in the moon­light. He stood up won­der­ing why he did not feel the cold of this night. The answer came as he looked down to his snow cov­ered body still lying beneath the tree.

Long before this ground became till­able it was the now long for­got­ten ceme­tery for the Crowhaven orphan­age, who’s stone foun­da­tions still shown through the grass here and there at the edge of the woods. The field has been home these many years to those unknown chil­dren for whom no one came, save the reaper. Mov­ing like curi­ous cats, the chil­dren slowly floated over to Wal­ter wherein he invited them to come to the house to see his toys.

As they entered the house, there on the work­bench sat the head­less robot with its power source win­dow glow­ing in an array of chang­ing col­ors like a minia­ture aurora bore­alis. The rest of that win­ter and many since found Wal­ter build­ing other robot bod­ies and the chil­dren select­ing var­i­ous heads from the col­lec­tion to sit atop them. Mis­fits one and all.