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Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

Welcome to ADHD

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   Miss Dawn (green) and sister Beth proved delightful “memories” …

My short-term memory bids me goodbye in The Accident.

But your long-term memory, commends Screen Three, keeps events and friends safe within head, heart, human. No number of years diminishes its recall power.

Standing in front of me is one of those memories personified. She is Dawn Dayton: excellent friend, former co-editor and, until this week, a woman unseen by me in more than three decades. Yet she is so warm and friendly, onlookers might guess we’ve just worked the same shift at the three-editions-daily newspaper she still manages.

With unbridled joy, I introduce Miss Dawn to my beautiful brown-eyed bride. They exchange pleasantries as I look about me at the building in which I stand. When I first stepped inside Beckley Newspapers Incorporated at the start of the ’80s, the facility was sparkling new, a cutting-edge effort designed to bring West Virginia journalism into the next century.

My six screens, powerfully revived by walking these halls, pour forth all they have safely held for just such a time as this. Those memories are dismayingly painful.

The Korean jetliner shot out of Russian airspace. The beautiful high school valedictorian hit by a drunk just released for his fourth inebriated driving offense. The innocent people shot during union strikes, domestic disputes, home robberies.

“Buddies,” I sigh, “you can do better. Yes, all of these events were news, but not all news must be so heavy.”

PressGot you covered, Black, chimes Five, signaling the other screens. They start the mental presses rolling, the ink flowing….

“Blackie?” the receptionist’s voice in the phone asks. “Got a real interesting visitor patiently waiting for you up at the front lobby.”

I walk to the sunlit waiting area and find an immaculately dressed older gent.

Wow, the man is smaller than you are, Boss! exclaims One.

But his clothes! whistles Three. Such style, especially that crisp knot in his tie and that incredible hat!

“Good afternoon, sir. I’m Blackie Blackwell, the news editor. I understand you asked for me by name. Do I know you?”

“No,” he says politely, his single word indicating precise speech and an as-yet unidentifiable accent. “I looked you up in the newspaper. This is my practice with every planet I visit.”

Planet? queries Five.

“I learn the leading editors and speak only with them because they alone are able to recognize the importance of the message I carry.”

Six wiggles with such distraction I cannot formulate my questions. Ask him about his message, Boss! Where is the dashing diplomat from? I pick up pen and paper and start my note-taking task. The man deflects my very first question.

“I will tell you my name later. You may be allowed to ask questions at that time. What you need to know now is quite simple, really: I am the Emperor of Love, and I have come to your planet to please Earth’s women.”

My pen stops writing. Screen One suggests, Re-frame this, Black. Swing it from a political piece to a human interest story.

Emperor“Emperor,” I address without mockery, “exactly how do you ‘please Earth’s women’?”

Do NOT print his answer! commands Two.

The gent’s answer is graphic. Exceptionally. Or perhaps I should say “vivid,” because graphic sounds – well, pornographic. This minute man is classy and careful and caring, not crude, in his description.

Like royalty, gasps Three, a bit taken aback. The social correctness of my visitor’s response causes my interviewing to falter.

“It is clear,” the tiny Beau Brummell says, “you are surprised I have chosen Earth as one of the places to share my abilities. Since duties required me to be nearby, I thought it proper to bless your lonely women with my powers of love and romance.”

Screen Two’s compliment slides through my polite smile. “Thoughtful of you.”

“Too kind,” responds the bright-eyed fellow, his steady gaze unyielding. “But in truth, I always have had a fondness in my heart for this planet.”

“Have an address where the loveless ladies of Beckley can find you?” I murmur, fighting off impolite chuckles scaling my throat for an improper escape.

The Emperor hands me a card that further defines his credentials but provides no contact information. “Your front-page article about me will prove sufficient.”

Five exhales heavily. Front page?

Front pageMy guest snaps his wrists, straightening flawless cuffs, and leans forward. “Most women have their needs met when the page one story runs across the top and is accompanied by my photograph.”

Oh, snipes Three. The same way your photo adorns the post office wall?

Emperor of Love puffs his chest, stiffens an already ramrod-precise posture, asks, “Where would you like me to pose?”

You have done plenty of posing right where you are, digs Four.

Warrior Six shows a soft side. Grab a camera. The Emperor so fervently believes his own words, Black. And you are not one to wound a confused heart.

The screens wink when I specifically pick up one of three similar cameras on the desk close by. Popping off half a dozen shots, I thank the older man for his “servant heart.”

He reminds me the news must run this very eve – “I have but a day in which to please Earth’s ladies,” he cautions somberly. His winning smile follows. “Then again, I am the Emperor of Love.”

Crisply, this charming oddity spins on his heels, bids a passing female reporter adieu even as he promises to fit her into his schedule, and walks out to West Virginia sunshine with an assured step.

Nice photo shoot, encourages Four, knowing the camera holds no film.

I’m eager to tell other staffers about this encounter, but Six is right. I don’t want to wound that fast-fading figure.

Which planet do you suppose he will visit next? asks Two.

I wonder if Two is serious. Then I mentally replay the day’s lineup of stories thus far and see no place to tuck a tale like this.

Screen Two softly comments, The Emperor seems harmless. I know he wants an article to run right away, but maybe you could give it some time.

Three decades ought to do it.


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