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Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
Hal: Sheerest Fiction Ripped from “Real Life” Conversation
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By Gary DeNeal
Gary DeNeal is the editor and publisher since 1985 of Springhouse, a bi-monthly magazine focusing on the history and lore of southeastern Illinois.
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By Gary DeNeal
Sept. 16, 2013 12:01 a.m.

He was weeping, just barely.
 
"What is the matter?" the wife said.
 
"I'm sad," he said.
 
"Why is that?" she said, bored past the horizons of her extensive vocabulary.
 
"Because I've only read hundreds of books," he said. "Were I a real man like your old boyfriend Hal, the daredevil lumberjack and part-time movie extra, I would have read thousands by now."
 
"Well," she said, "Hal is a special case. There is a kind of magic in his bones, and I of all people should know.But for better or worse I'm married to you." She sighed. The dreamy look in her eye as she imagined her heartthrob of yesteryear nose-deep into the final pages of Paradise Lost was more than he could he could bear. Shaking all over, he stood.
 
"Here I am, ignorant as a church mouse, having never read Paradise Lost, or War and Peace, or even Don Quixote, and you stand there talking about #*+# HAL! He's read them all, hundreds more, some of them thrice over. I'm a loser, I tell you, a loser," and saying it he stained the carpet with his weeping, which was profuse and lasting.
 
She watched, amused.
 
"Dear," he said at last, upon regaining a measure of composure "Would you love me more if I took up weightlifting, or mountain climbing without proper gear?"
 
She laughed. "That's sissy stuff," she said, "Read, you fool, read. Read yourself dizzy and then some. In the end you still may not know anything worth knowing but at least you will be well-read."
 
Upon saying that, she hugged him, triggering additional weeping on his part.
 
Does this story have a happy ending?
 
Maybe.
 
Better yet, just ask Hal. He'll tell you, if you can break him away from Paradise Lost.
 
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Herod, IL 62947

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