To celebrate this important event, this week's post is a sort of retrospective. It is also the fourth entry in the Bartholomew Templeton saga (all equally unrelated). So enjoy this story, thanks for reading, and keep coming back as the blog begins year number two!
Bartholomew Templeton is dead. No, I’m not saying that he will die. Or that he wants to die. Or that he’s contemplating the nature of death. Simply, Bartholomew Templeton has died.
New travels quickly in the literary world, so all the other fictional characters knew of his passing shortly after the event. People and things that are not real tend to stick together; they believe it will help fight off any speculation regarding their existence. Therefore, when one of their own goes on to the next stage of his or her life, the other characters feel an obligation to pay their respects. Such was the case with Bartholomew Templeton, who had lived an adventurous life and met many a character through his imaginary travels.
By the time the coffin containing his cooling body was brought out for viewing, there was already a long line of visitors that snaked out of The Town, over The Bridge, and through The Woods. These men, women, monsters, children (though in some cases that would be redundant), rhetorical ideas, sentient objects, personified animals, and omniscient narrators were prepared to wait as long as needed so they could pay their respects to their lost friend. Most of them did not have anything occupying their schedules anyway; only a lucky few had to get back to their homes to prepare for sequels. The rest had no one waiting on them, either because their stories were forgotten, no one cared about them any more, or their reviews were so poor that no one read their tales in the first place. The latter were a particularly bitter group.
(Too many characters had nice things to say about Bartholomew to detail them all here, so it will have to suffice to only relate the especially heartfelt messages.)
The first visitor (that we care to talk about) was massive. If it stretched out all its limbs fully and added their lengths together, it could reach the Moon. This was not a metaphor; it was wise enough to be able to calculate this statistic. It approached the casket as quickly as it could. Though it truly desired to share its memories of Bartholomew, it also desperately wanted (and needed) to return to the water. This was the all-knowing Squid.
“I know you lived a good life, Bartholomew Templeton,” began the Squid wisely, “because I know everything. I have lived through many a literary figure death, but yours has impacted me the most emotionally. You were better written, were in better-told stories, and spoke better dialogue than most other characters. And I’m not just saying that because I’m feeling sympathetic. It’s the truth.”
A tear glistened in the Squid’s gigantic eye. The water droplet fell with a large splash, soaking the next characters in line.
“Let me share one last piece of advice with you,” continued the Squid. “Never let death get in the way of your life. After all, it’s only life that gets in the way of death. Farewell, Bartholomew Templeton.” Without looking back, the Squid slithered off and sunk back into the conveniently placed Sea.
If the Squid was humongous, the next visitor was miniscule. Well, actually the Squid was giant-sized and the next character was pretty tiny. This was Mr. McGee. He was a flea.
“Oh Bart, my friend,
That it should end
Is oh so sad
And makes me mad.
For you are gone,
But life moves on;
It does not wait
If you are late.
I won’t forget
Your great big net
That almost caught
Me with a swat.
Good times we had,
They were not bad.
I’ll miss you, Bart,
In my flea heart.”
With his poem eulogy concluded, Mr. McGee buzzed off back to his own story world. He knew if he stayed any longer he would break down in tears. And rhyming is much more difficult when you’re hysterical.
The final character that came to say one last goodbye was a hideous monster. He was so ugly and frightening that he purposefully came at the end of the procession so no one would have to see him. Also, he had a nasty proclivity for gobbling up humans that got in his way, so he did not have many friends in the world of fiction. Bartholomew had been one of the lucky few that had become acquaintances with the Gewgaw.
The Gewgaw cleared its throat, then began its prepared speech:
“Bartholomew Templeton. I did not eat you. In fact, no one did. I’d say that means you lived a full life. Unfortunately, it was still cut short. Such is the cruel way of the world and writers.
“I knew you when you were just a young fictional character. You matured into a fantastic old fictional character. I remember when you heard you would be in a sequel. I’m glad I witnessed that momentous occasion. But I thought you would keep churning the stories out for eternity. It never crossed my mind that you might not be with us forever.
“I hid under bridges while you confronted the world. You were a great character, and that’s not even coming from your creator. I hope you rest peacefully in fiction heaven, Bartholomew Templeton. Farewell.”
The Gewgaw blinked its yellow eyes to fight back tears. It uncomfortably chewed on its sharp claws, unsure of how to proceed now with its life and story. Just as the Gewgaw was about to return to its home to eat more unsuspecting passersby, all of the characters that had been to see Bartholomew Templeton that day appeared. They had not left the Gewgaw by itself after all. The characters approached, arms around each other, as they encircled the Gewgaw and Bartholomew.
“Who would do such a cruel thing?” lamented a cow.
“I don’t know,” replied a citizen of Atlantis. “Only someone heartless would let such a good character as Bartholomew Templeton pass away.”
“I hope that person is miserable for the rest of his life,” added one Mr. Dootley.
“I agree,” said Bartholomew Templeton.