He tapped his fingers on the table, all five of them, quickly and rapidly like he was nervous. But this was not it. He was waiting for a girl, yes, and that makes even the bravest lose their wit. But it was, instead, because he was desperately trying to recall his name in morse code. His father had taught him when he was young and it had always come to him easily in the back of his mind when he didn’t mean to think of it.
Da – dit- dit
That’s how it started. He was sure of that much. He remembered it was rhythmic, that it sounded like a song. The start of a catchy tune. Or maybe it was more like a limerick. What was that called? That tempo to the words that made a limerick a limerick and not simply a story with really bad spacing. Did it have a word?
A fly and a flea in a flue
Were caught, so what could they do?
He felt he should know it, since he went to school for it. Like a mechanic should know that thing that connects the alternator to the engine. If that thing had a name. It had to have a name, right?
Dit- dit – dit – da – da – da – dit – dit – dit
That was something, but not his name. That was SOS. This was good to know, he assumed, in case he was ever on a sea-faring vessel that was sinking and had no radio. But what if they asked for a name and he couldn’t say? What if they thought it was just a prank call and he drowned somewhere out in the Pacific, his colleagues shaking their heads disapprovingly at him since he could not remember three simple letters that were also beeps and boops.
Said the fly “Let us flee!”
Then he recalled that the letter ‘e’ was simple. Just a single, quick dot. Like a stab from a rapier.
Just a simple one. After that, the ‘b’ made sense. It was longer, heavier. There was more there, and it certainly began with a da. A long one. A dash.
Da! Dit! Dit! Dit!
Almost there now. The dit’s were all but done, packed together like cattle in the middle. There were more da’s in there, to frame out the dit’s.
“Let us fly,” said the flea.
A lady with one of those obnoxious pocket dogs jammed in her purse, it’s head darting its eyes across the room like it was just hatching for the first time from an expensive Prada egg, stared at him since he was now hitting the table with his fingers like it was a snare drum. He had it now.
That was it! That was the N. The whole thing came back and sat so solidly in his frontal lobe, he wondered how he had ever not remembered it in the first place.
Da! Dit-Dit-Dit-Dit! Da! Dit!
He sneered back at the dog lady. He had won. And it was then the girl he had promised to meet walked in. He barely knew her, but he knew enough to know that if he told her this, shared in this achievement, she wouldn’t care even a bit. So, before she caught site of him, he grabbed his backpack and made quickly for the back door. All the time, he tapped out his name on his leg, as if he was trying to imprint it there forever. Brand it on his leg so he would never forget.
So they flew through a flaw in the flue.