When I was a child, I knew a man
His name was Mister Forgetful.
And he lived in a hotel in upstate New York
In the second-best suite that they had.
Nobody knew where the money came from,
But his bills were always paid
And the staff always took good care of him;
He could only remember back three days.
We made it a point to have dinner every night
So that we could have a history together,
And I wouldn’t be just some kid
That he’d treated once to a meal.
Speaking with Mister Forgetful . . .
Everything he said was new,
And I learned more of simplicity from him
Than a lifetime of Tao meditations.
But he spent his life on a lonely rock
That was only three days wide
Surrounded by an abyss of I can’t know
With not even a name to sustain him.
Then, one night, he got a package;
A gift-wrapped box with a fine silk bow.
Here, was proof someone knew who he was.
Here, was proof someone cared.
His hands shook a little as he pulled loose the bow
He unwrapped his package in wonder
And when at last he’d folded the parchment away
The present was cold-wrought iron.
He opened the lid
And I waited, what clue was he seeing?
As he reached in, and pulled out
An old .45, with a scope
A man’s photo
And a silencer.
I said, “Forgetful, don’t do it.”
He said, “This is all that I know!
And besides: in three days, I’ll forget.”
“Well, that’s true, Mister Forgetful.
But if you do this
In three days you’ll be eating alone.”