24 May 2021

Archival footage: Leyland's Bones

A work in progress...

Leyland Tweed Engleman was named after his father’s favorite jacket.

And his mother always said he had his grandfather’s nose.

As it was with his father and grandfather before him, Leyland Engleman was a saver.  A keeper.  A boxer-upper.  And a legendary collector of rare and unusual things.  Beneath his bed, in nearly a dozen large black plastic hide-away boxes, Leyland kept his things.

Things like 

thirty-eight differently shaped pinecones, some open, some still sticky and closed-up tight

and the front headlight and chrome retainer ring assembly from an old Volkswagen

and a heavy cloth bag nearly bursting with exactly 1143 antique pennies with wheat sheaves on the back where the Lincoln Memorial was now

and an old Ant Farm which still contained the remains of Leyland’s last great ant colony: probably 300 dead red worker ants.  Leyland had tried to make an accurate post-mortem count of them many times; he still felt badly for the role he had played in their demise.  He knew better now: ants need only so much water and no more.  Guilt, and an unspeakable attachment to his colony of the dead, kept him from establishing a new, much dryer colony between the Ant Farm’s clear walls and green plastic frame

and nine yo-yos, including a special free-spinning silver one that came with a 55-page How to do Yo-yo Tricks instruction book.  It was supposed to be excellent for "impress[ing] your friends and family."  Busy, however, with his many other collections, Leyland had never taken the time to learn anything more difficult than Rock-the-Cradle

and an assortment of rusty bolts and nails which he had found in various vacant lots and in-between places around his neighborhood and while on summertime adventures with his family

and an intact old bottle with an unusual Pepsi logo on it

a couple of old license plates

several broken, dirt-stained shards of old dishes and cups along with some bottle-glass that had long ago turned purple sitting out in the sun

a few pieces of authentic old Indian pottery, light brown with painted black lines still visible on one surface and even, on a few of the rim pieces, the faint, ancient impressions of the maker's fingerprints

a heavy box of rocks of different sizes and varieties labeled with their geologic names like “basalt” and “granite” and “schist” in black marker on aging masking tape

and, in one small box, which he kept always near the center-most point of his under-the-bed cache, labeled in loud red pen to warn pokers and prodders and various little brothers to “Beware! Private!” Leyland kept his bones.

Magic bones.

Leyland’s rocks… they were just rocks.  And his yo-yos were just yo-yos.  Likewise, his Ant Farm, a failure, could never be returned to the store in its current deathly condition.  His bolts would never fasten again and his nails were all rusted and brittle, well beyond straightening.  His headlight and retainer assembly, worthless without a car to go behind it.  And as for his pennies, he had been told by a collector at a coin show that his grandfather had taken him to that they were worth little more than face-value: exactly eleven dollars and forty-three cents, with only a few possible and rare exceptions.

But Leyland’s bones, they were magic.

Or they were almost magic.

Or they could be magic. Someday.

Of their magical potential at least, Leyland was nearly certain.  Just as certain as he was of the worldly worthlessness of all the other treasures in his collections.

Few knew of Leyland’s bones; fewer still believed in their magic.

To be continued...


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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Ed Abbey