Iron & Bass

Henry the Orbit

Joe Parker - May 1, 2002

Once in a land of long rolling hills there lived a young green blade of grass named Henry the Orbit. Henry was a bona fide dreamer. He liked to lean back against his hill and look at the sky all day and night. Henry's favorite thing to look at was the moon, and this is why he was called Henry the Orbit.

Seven nights each week Henry leaned back on the hill and stared at the moon, dreaming dreamer's dreams and letting his imagination run its course. Now and again he saw the moon as a great big winking eye, softly closing its eyelid as it crept across the sky. Sometimes the moon was a giant seed falling through space toward its final berth in the soil of some distant paradise.

Most often, though, Henry saw the moon as a land filled with hills and plains much like his own. On these hills were thousands and thousands of gray blades of grass, perhaps millions if one can imagine such a thing. Henry dreamed that among this number there lived another dreamer, dreaming back towards Henry and his rolling fields of green. Perhaps she was a female - a young gray beauty named Delilah.

For years Henry sat and stared at the sky, dreaming about birds, airplanes, hot-air balloons, big moon fields full of gray grass and Delilah, who over time had grown to become Henry's one true love.

"Delilah, my true," Henry often whispered to himself late at night as he gazed at the bright moon where his love lay dreaming. "Someday may we sway together in the same field of grass!"

But like any other young blade of grass, Henry grew older and taller and his once dreaming mind soon became occupied with more practical matters.

For instance, at one time Henry developed an all-encompassing interest in microeconomics and its relevance to life on the hillside. He followed this course of study with great passion for three turnings of the season, until his mind and body were so consumed by facts and formulas that he developed a hairline fracture at the base of his tiny stem and was forced to take a break.

Weeks later, Henry emerged from his respite feeling rested, but bored, and soon found himself constantly thinking about chemistry. He studied the details of the periodic elements without rest for three consecutive months until he felt his head would explode, and so took a long nap.

This cycle went on and on, as Henry studied physics, zoology, anthropology, meteorology, aviation and a dozen other disciplines that each drove Henry to the edge of his mind until finally he could no longer think at all.

Henry was now old and his body was withered and brown. His dreaming days long behind him, Henry was content to lean and sway with the wind as it whistled over the hills around him.

On the night of his death, Henry summoned all his energy to have one last dream. In a flash, he saw Delilah, now much older yet somehow more beautiful, gazing back through the ocean of space that separated the two lovers.

The dream faded quickly as Henry the Orbit slumped to the ground. For 49 days his body dissolved into the soil below until finally he was gone.

Some six hundred thousand years later, the forces at play within the universe aligned in such a way that the elements which once comprised Henry's essence reunited in the form of a screw on the lawnmower purchased by the barber Edmond one day before Easter. Henry the Orbit was back.

Henry adjusted fairly quickly to life as a screw, though some aspects of his new life took some getting used to.

"Such a horror," Henry observed whenever Mr. Edmond mowed the lawn, staring wide-eyed as healthy blades of grass were chopped into tiny bits and strewn across the ground beneath him. "The Eternal certainly has a taste for irony."

To his delight, Henry's new station in life was quite conducive to dreaming, and Henry spent many an idle hour lost in thought while resting in Mr. Edmond's garage with the other landscaping tools.

On occasion, Henry found himself sitting overnight in the yard if the weather forecast was favorable or Mr. Edmond had been careless after a mow. On those nights, he could see the moon and his old love, Delilah, whom he found he didn't much care for anymore.

"Delilah's an old hat," Henry told himself. "Besides, she probably wouldn't favor my new occupation."

Soon Henry developed quite a fancy for a little brass screw who held the signal flag against the side of Mr. Edmond's mailbox. She sparkled in the sun whenever Henry rolled by, and on the brightest days Henry sparkled back.

One morning, Mr. Edmond paused during a mow to check the mail, leaving Henry only a few short feet from the brass screw. Passion filled him as he gazed up at his new love and her golden beauty.

"She's so close," Henry agitated. "Yet I shall never know her touch."

At once, the futility of his love - and by extension, his life - consumed Henry's entire being, so much that he succumbed to a fit of coughing. At that moment, the entire sky became black, and the gathering darkness gave Henry a fright.

"A storm cloud," Henry told himself, then began to relax as he recalled his study of meteorology. "It will soon pass."

Raindrops began to fall and Mr. Edmond swept the lawnmower away to the shelter of the garage. Henry still trembled for quite some time, but when he focused on the rhythm the rain tapped on the roof he was able to fall asleep.