“A Town Called Waverly” By Author Rod Smith (Guest Blog)
Once upon a time, in a town called Waverly, there lived a very friendly and quiet man called Cyrus. He wore a grey shabby suit that he always kept clean and a pair of black shoes that had holes in the soles which he filled with plastic sweet wrappers that he would find thrown on […]
Once upon a time, in a town called Waverly, there lived a very friendly and quiet man called Cyrus. He wore a grey shabby suit that he always kept clean and a pair of black shoes that had holes in the soles which he filled with plastic sweet wrappers that he would find thrown on the street. This made the shoes rather uncomfortable, and made his shoes crackle and rustle, but it helped to keep the rain out.
Cyrus lived alone in a shed at the railway station that nobody used any more. He had lived there for as long as he could remember. In the shed there was a small fireplace where he cooked his dinner. In the corner of the shed was a pile of straw which he used as a mattress and he covered the star with a blanket to make it more comfortable, because lying on straw can make you very itchy!
Cyrus had very few possessions. He had a chair with three legs which he leaned against a wall to keep it from falling over. He had a large wooden box which he used as a table, and on this table he kept a frame with an old black and white photograph of his mother. He could not remember her at all, but she had a lovely smile and she looked very friendly. Each night before Cyrus would go to sleep, he would say a prayer and look lovingly at the photograph for a few moments before whispering “good night mother” just before he dozed off.
Now there was something quite special about Cyrus. He loved to help people. Every day he had the same routine. First of all, he would get up and have a wash using the rainwater he collected in barrels outside. Then he would get dressed and have breakfast, that is, if he had any food. Then he would leave his shed to walk the streets of Waverly to help people. When a young student dropped her purse from her bag as she rushed to college, he picked it up and ran after her to return it. When a family was lost he helped them by giving them directions. He knew every street in the town! When a lady’s handbag fell on the ground and all of her belongings fell all around the street he ran around helping her to pick everything up. When a visitor to the town dropped his train ticket on his way to the train station Cyrus picked it up and ran after him to return it. This was not easy as the visitor was riding a bike at the time, and Cyrus had to run very fast to catch him!
Now the people of the town of Waverly did not realise this, but Cyrus was the person who helped to keep the town running smoothly. If he had not returned the purse to the student (whose name was Paula) who dropped it she would not have been able to buy the books she needed to pass her medical exams which would have stopped her becoming a world famous doctor.
In the same way, years later, if he had not helped the family who were lost, they would not have been able to get to the doctor in time to help their sick son Billy get to Dr Paula in time to be cured.
Only yesterday, if Cyrus had not helped the postman deliver the post to Mrs. Campbell-Forbes-Smythe from the Science Institute, she would never have received the letter from Billy who was now an explorer, who had discovered a rare plant in the Amazon rainforest that could cure many illnesses ! Billy had even included a sample of the plant in the envelope.
As for the tourist who lost his train ticket, if Cyrus had not found it for him, he would have had to buy another ticket for a different seat on the train. Then he would never have met a lady called Martha in seat number 12A, carriage number 3 who he eventually married, and they had a son called Billy, the same Billy who discovered the rare plant in the Amazon rainforest that could cure diseases!
So, as you can see, all these acts of kindness carried out by Cyrus over days, weeks, months and years had a huge positive knock-on effect not only on the town but on the world! That is why the people of Waverly all agreed it was a lovely place to live. Everything always seemed to work out, as if by magic!
The mayor of the town, Peregrine Workinsop the Fourth always made sure that he got the credit for everything going so well. The people all believed him, and they elected him Mayor of the town every year! Mayor Workinsop became very powerful and very rich and soon became to believe himself that he was indeed the person who made Waverly such a wonderful place to live.
Nobody realised that Cyrus was responsible for all of this. He was always in the right place at the right time to help. That is until one day, just as Christmas was approaching, small things seemed to go wrong and everything started to change. Purses and tickets were dropped on the ground and not returned. People were late for meetings because they got lost and there was nobody to give them directions. This went on for a number of days.
And where was Cyrus when all of this was happening? He was lying on his blanker of straw in his shed, very cold and very sick. All of those days without enough food to eat had left him very weak. He felt so bad he was not able to get up at all. He had no medicine and no wood for the fire for heat. As he was too ill to go and look for wood for the fire, he could not keep himself warm, or even make some hot soup.
As poor Cyrus lay on his bed, all alone, cold and hungry, the people of Waverly called to the Mayor’s house to find out what he was going to do about all of the things that were going wrong in the town.
“What am I going to do?” the Mayor declared, as he stroked his large bushy moustache, “why I shall call a meeting of the whole town to discuss these important matters which require urgent and immediate debate in order to come to a general consensus on the adequate steps that need to be taken to ensure a fruitful response is taken to the situation at hand!”
(The Mayor, a man of many words, liked the sound of his own voice very much, and so, liked to talk a lot!)
So the whole town agreed to meet at the town hall.
The Mayor stood up to speak.
“Now that we have everyone gathered here to discuss these areas of vital importance, I feel it is my duty as a duly elected representative to ensure that we have the correct procedures in place to ensure that the resultant protocols are of an order that are acceptable to all and sundry who are here today and furthermore…”
“Oh do get on with it!” a little girl called Aisling shouted. Everybody laughed. The Mayor’s cheeks went red with embarrassment.
“Quite right!” agreed Dr Paula as she stood up to speak. “Townspeople of Waverly, something is not quite right and I can’t quite put my finger on it!”
“What do you mean, not quite right?” the Mayor asked, keeping his sentences short this time in case he got into trouble again!
Lots of voices began to shout at the same time.
“I lost my wallet!” the bank manager shouted.
“I fell off my bike!” roared the police officer.
“My dog ran away!” cried the pensioner.
“My cat ran away with my spelling book!” said a nine year old boy called Sean.
Everyone stopped and looked at Sean.
“Well, it did!” he insisted.
“My oven broke down and I couldn’t bake bread today. These kinds of things just do not happen in our town!” the baker roared. “The last time the oven was not working properly the mayor‘s office sent a gentleman in an old grey suit to fix it for me.”
“I did no such thing!” stammered the Mayor. “I don’t have people who can fix ovens!”
“Well what about the person you sent to return my ring that had fallen down the kitchen sink and was found in the drain?” a lady asked.
“The Mayor’s office does not send people to fix ovens or return lost rings!”
“Well, whoever that gentleman in the grey suit was, he performed a great deed returning the ring that way he did.”
Dr Paula stood up, eyebrows creased, deep in thought. “A number of years ago a man in a grey suit returned a purse I had lost. I wonder? Hands up anyone here who was been helped by such a man in a grey suit over the years?”
Everyone in the room put their hand up, apart from the Mayor who slowly but surely raised his hand also.
“My car had a flat tyre. He fixed it for me”, he muttered to everyone.
“Right then”, Dr Paula declared. “We have all been helped by this mysterious man in grey. Does anyone know him? Has anyone seen him recently?”
Everyone shook their head.
“Does anyone know where he lives?”
Again, everyone shook their heads, except Aisling.
“I think he might live somewhere around the train station”, she said. “I fell into a pond near there and he rescued me.” Aisling’s mother shrieked, “What? You never told me this!”
“I didn’t want to worry you Mum, besides he taught me how to swim after that!”
Aisling’s Mum grabbed her daughter and gave her the biggest hug she could. “We must find the man who saved my daughter!”
Everyone roared in agreement.
Dr Paula stood up to speak. “People of Waverly, as a doctor I know the importance of a strong and healthy heart for physical well-being. It is my belief that this mystery man has been the heart of our town and has been keeping us all strong and healthy for years without us knowing it.
“Let’s find him!” Aisling shouted.
“I agree!” said Dr Paula.
“Maybe he knows where the cat is that took my spelling book!” Sean said.
The Mayor stood up and spoke.
“All right then, as Mayor it is my job to oversee the creation of search parties for this individual in question.”
“Let’s all break up into groups and search the railway station!” Aisling roared.
“That’s exactly what I was about to say!” the Mayor replied, although to be honest he probably would have used a lot more words to say it!
Everyone broke into groups and picked different parts of the railway station to search.
They checked the ticket office, the empty trains, the works sheds, the offices, but they could not find Cyrus anywhere.
In the meantime, Cyrus was still lying on his bed of straw, getting weaker and weaker. “I think I will just close my eyes for a while, I feel very tired”, he said.
“Don’t close your eyes Cyrus, if you fall asleep, you might not wake up”, said a soft and gentle voice.
“Who said that?” asked Cyrus, looking around the room. “Is someone there?”
“I did!” replied the woman in the photograph. “I have been watching over you for many years now, and trust me Cyrus when I say, do not fall asleep.”
“Yes mother, but I feel so tired.”
“Why don’t we both sing a song to help to keep you awake?”
“All right mother, what shall we sing?”
“Well seeing as it’s nearly Christmas, why don’t we sing Jingle Bells?” And that is what they did. Cyrus put all of his strength into singing the song, but his voice began to fade as he struggled to keep his eyes open.
“Keep singing dear, just a little bit longer.”
“I’m trying mother, I’m trying, but my eyelids feel so heavy…”
Suddenly the door to the shed crashed open.
“He’s here!” a voice shouted. “Get Dr Paula!”
Dr Paula raced into the room. “Now Cyrus, I’m Dr. Paula, let’s have a look at you”.
She examined Cyrus who was now breathing very faintly.
“It’s all right Doctor”, Cyrus whispered. “I know it’s too late.” Dr. Paula looked sadly at Cyrus and then at the people who had gathered in the room. She knew that none of her medicines could save him. Suddenly she had an idea.
“Mrs. Campbell-Forbes-Smythe, please come in here immediately!” she shouted. Mrs. Campbell-Forbes-Smythe rushed in.
“Do you still have that envelope you got from Billy? The one you told me about?”
“Why yes, it’s still in my bag.”
“May I have it please?”
Dr Paula was handed the envelope and took out the plant from the Amazon rainforest that Billy had sent. The plant that could cure most illnesses! Of course! It looked like a yellow mushroom. Billy had included a note with the plant which had just one word – “Eat!”
“Right then Cyrus, chew on this”, Dr Paula commanded.
“I’m not very fond of mushrooms Doctor” replied Cyrus.
Cyrus did as he was told. He chewed and swallowed. Then something rather wonderful happened. Within moments, Cyrus sat up straight feeling completely well again.
“I feel great!” he said.
“Well, we’ll bring you to the hospital, just to be sure”, Dr. Paula replied, and that’s what they did.
“How did you find me?” Cyrus asked the doctor as they sat in the ambulance that was taking them to the hospital.
“Well that’s the oddest thing Cyrus, we heard someone singing Jingle Bells, and it led us straight to you.”
“I was singing Jingle bells.”
“You were indeed. But we heard two voices, a man and a woman, and yet there was nobody else in the shed when we found you. Anyway, the important thing now is to get you well.”
As the weeks went by, Cyrus grew stronger and stronger, and soon he was able to leave hospital and move into a house that the people of Waverly built especially for him. He made sure he had the photograph with him, except this time he had it on a proper table. The lady in the photograph remained silent.
Cyrus continued to do his good deeds for everyone, except this time everyone else in the town began to copy him, until soon the town of Waverly became the most friendliest and peaceful town in the country.
As for Sean’s cat, (remember him?), who was supposed to run away with the spelling book and the homework? Well they never did find those books, and the cat was never seen again, until Sean’s school had a spelling bee competition, and the cat showed up in a completely unexpected fashion to help win the competition for the school.
But that’s the town of Waverly, you never quite know what’s going to happen from one day to the next, but if you are ever lucky enough to visit, make sure to ask for Cyrus, one thing’s for sure, he won’t let you down.
By Rod Smith (Guest Blogger)
Rod will be visiting some of the Fingal Libraries for storytelling sessions in August. Click here for details.
Rod Smith is also the author of “Get out and play GAA” and “Get out and play Football”