© Copyright 2018 by Kathryn Lynch
The neighbors called him "Captain Kirk". The old man with the wild, shoulder length white hair, bushy beard, and fierce appearance, strolled the neighborhood, neither speaking to anyone, nor acknowledging that they were even there.
Wherever the Captain walked, he was preceded by two small dogs. They barked nonstop, so no one was ever surprised when the old man made an appearance.
There was some logic to the name because his last name was, in fact, "Kirk". Combined with his strange ways, it suited him. He was the butt of neighborhood jokes, mostly that he was lost from, was searching for, or he had just located the Starship Enterprise. "Beam me up, Scotty", they would say, often loud enough for him to hear as he passed by them.
Although the Old Lady had a keen sense of humor, she had been made fun of as a child because of her height. She found no humor in making fun of others because they were different, so she did not join the neighbors in these jokes, preferring to leave the old man alone. She was, however, extremely curious about what made him tick.
Every day the Old Lady's big nobody-wants-em dogs barked furiously as Captain Kirk's small yappy dogs passed by. The Old Lady positioned herself in the house so that she could watch him pass by. She did not have to fear detection because the Captain looked straight ahead, never turning in her direction.
He appeared to be clean, completely lost in thought. His clothes gave him the appearance of a farmer--dungarees, a print shirt, cowboy boots, a jacket for cold weather, always the same. There were no farms at the end of the road, so the Old Lady concluded that this was his personal preference.
Sometimes the Captain drove his old brown station wagon, yappy dogs hanging out the passenger window. He appeared to have difficulty maneuvering the corner near the Old Lady's house, veering first to the left and then overcorrecting to the right. She had also seen him driving on the busy road near the grocery store, weaving back and forth. At the time, she suspected that Captain Kirk was drunk.
One afternoon the Old Lady looked out the front window to discover two of her dogs in the road. The yard was fenced, so there was no practical way for dogs to leave the yard except through a hole. Thinking that one of her dogs had dug underneath the fence wire, she walked the perimeter of the fence to find the escape route.
At the corner, a large hole had been torn in the wiring. Two fenceposts were broken off at the base, and the ground was torn up with tire marks from a vehicle driving back and forth to leave the ditch.
The immediate problem was to repair the fence. The Old Lady went to the hardware store to purchase two more fenceposts. Then she called the handyman who closed the hole using the posts and extra fence wire. When it was finished, the repair and parts cost $100.00.
“It had to be Captain Kirk", she thought. Although she wanted to speak to him about reimbursement, the truth was that the Old Lady was afraid to confront him at the end of the road by herself. She would have to let it go.
The following morning she happened to wake up early, before it was light. Looking out the window, she was puzzled by a mountainous shadow in front of her house. As daylight filled the yard, she was surprised to find a large load of firewood on the ground. Next to the wood were two fenceposts. Her dogs had barked in the middle of the night, but the Old Lady thought they were barking at the local bear who scoured the yards after dark, looking for trash. Instead, it had been the Starship Enterprise beaming down some wood.
The Old Lady returned from town one day to find a cooler on her porch. Under the ice were several freshly caught fish, cleaned and ready to cook. She enjoyed the seafood dinners and left the cooler on the porch. Two weeks later when she drove up to her house, she saw that the cooler was gone. On the top step were two plastic bags filled with large juicy tomatoes, obviously home grown. The eggs were next, two cartons full, somewhat irregular in size and color, indicating that they came from local chickens. The surprises on the porch always arrived when she was gone in her car. It was Captain Kirk leaving them of course, and he was much more observant than she had believed.
Thus began the strange relationship between the Old Lady and the old man who lived at the end of the road. They had never spoken a word to each other. Captain Kirk still walked by the Old Lady's house, his dogs yapping and running ahead. The Old Lady still watched him surreptitiously through the front window, knowing that he probably had figured out she was there—watching.
It was about to change.
The Old Lady heard the yappy dogs coming down the road. She positioned herself in her watching place waiting for the Captain. Her dogs and the yappers were having a bark fest at the fence, but there was no sign of him. At last she left her house and looked down the road. He was nowhere to be seen.
Apparently the yappy dogs had run off. She placed them in her car so that they could be returned. Driving toward his house, the Old Lady spotted the Captain lying there by the side of the road. He appeared to be unconscious. Using her cell phone she called 9-1-1 for an ambulance and waited. He did not stir, but help arrived quickly and he was taken away.
The Old Lady sat in her car with the little dogs, wondering what to do next. She reasoned that the dogs would be comfortable in their own home. If the Captain did not return within a day, she would go to the house to let them outside, feed them and water them. As she approached the front door, she was surprised to hear the strains of Beethoven's Symphony #2, which she recognized instantly. The door was unlocked so the Old Lady carried the dogs inside. She determined that the feeding and water dishes for the dogs were in the kitchen, so she filled them both.
Now she had the time and freedom to satisfy her curiosity about Captain Kirk's house. The walls were covered with books, many of them classical works. An open book and a pair of reading glasses lay on the table. It was apparent to her now, that the Captain was an educated man.
There were no empty glasses sitting around, and no liquor bottles or beer cans in sight. She could find no booze in the cupboards and nothing in the trash to indicate that the old man drank, let alone had a drinking problem. She had been wrong about that too.
Outside in the yard, she found a vegetable garden and a pile of newly split firewood. Several hens wandered with a rooster in an adjacent area. Spotting the chicken feed, the Old Lady stopped to feed them and fill their water dishes before she left.
She called the hospital, inquiring about "Mr. Kirk". They had a “Steven Kirk in Room 256”, she was told. The Old Lady knew that the Captain would be worried about his yappy dogs, so she determined to assure him that they were well.
The room was half way down the hall, on the right hand side. The door was open, but when she looked in, the Old Lady realized immediately that this was not the Captain's room. The man in the bed was clean shaven and he wore glasses.
At the nurse's station she asked about Steven Kirk. "Room 256", a nurse replied. "Do you have another 'Kirk' in the hospital"?, the Old Lady asked. "The man I'm looking for has long white hair and a beard." "That's him. The barber just left", said the nurse.
So it was, that the Old Lady went back to Room 256 and introduced herself to Steven Kirk.
Epilogue: The Captain recovered quickly and he returned to his yappy dogs.
The old man had cataract surgery in both eyes and his driving dramatically improved. Poor eyesight had also been the reason he did not look around or speak to those he passed.
He remained clean shaven. In time, the neighbors lost interest in making fun of him because he no longer looked different.
and the Old Lady became fast friends. One night the Old Lady sneaked
onto the old man's property and planted a sign which read "Starship
Enterprise". Captain Kirk loved it.