Mr. Harris looked like Thomas Edison. This resemblance caused me to think that Mr. Harris was a scientist and inventor with a laboratory and workshop full of wonderful experiments and inventions.
The side of Mr. Harris’ house and the driveway to his garage were perpendicular to our backyard. We could see the back and side of his house. Most of his house was always in darkness except for the room near the back entrance. The light was always on.
“That must be his lab and workshop!” I thought. “That is where he has a formula that can make me fly and a formula that can make me invisible, and a time machine.”
Mr. Harris was friendly, but he never said more than, “Good Morning” and minor talk about the weather. We would see him come and go at odd hours. Where did he go? No doubt to pick up chemicals and other supplies for his potions and inventions.
I wished that Mr. Harris would invite me into his house. I wished and wished and wished. Once he invited me inside, he would make me his apprentice. I would learn how to make potions to make me fly and to make me invisible. Then I would learn how to build a time machine, and perhaps a spaceship.
One day it happened! I had just finished cutting Mr. Harris’ grass. He reached into his pocket to pay me, and then said, “Oh, it’s inside. Would you like to come inside?”
“Yes,” I said calmly. Inside my head I screamed, “Yes! Yes! Yes! Oh boy! Oh boy! Yes! Yes!”
Once inside I looked around. No bottles of special potions. No Bunsen burners boiling colored liquids in test tubes, beakers and flasks. No electronic equipment. No time machine.
We were in the room that always has the light on. The light hung from the ceiling on a single wire with no shade for the bulb. The naked bulb revealed a dismal room. Gloom and depression colored the walls, and the bedding of an unmade bed in the corner. Dark drapes stopped the sunlight. The couch and armchair looked as if they may have been dark blue, but it was hard to tell because of all the newspapers, clothing and other stuff piled on them. In the center of the room was a wooden table with stacks and stacks of coins piled on it. There were also some dirty dishes.
I kept wanting to think that his lab/workshop was in the basement or in another room in the house. But the gloom of the room said, “There is no lab. There is no workshop.”
Mr. Harris took some quarters from one of the stacks of coins, made a note on the paper beside the coins, and paid me for cutting his grass.
My mother chuckled when I told her how disappointed I was that Mr. Harris did not have a lab and workshop.
Mr. Harris,” she said, “owns a laundromat. He and his wife ran it together. They were so, so, happy. You always saw more lights on, in the house, when she was alive. Then she died, and Mr. Harris is doing his best to carry on.”