for my mother
Dan Huckabee was the type of guy that nobody liked at parties, unless it was a party filled with the same type of guy that Dan Huckabee happened to be. He talked too much. Some people talk too little at parties, and nobody likes them, but nobody liked a guy who went on and on like Dan Huckabee either. It wasn’t that he rambled; nobody liked a rambler, but that wasn’t what Dan Huckabee was. He was a man with a passion, and he would tell everyone he met about that passion for hours on end, whether they cared to hear it or not.
Dan Huckabee was an archivist. It was his job to collect the old, outdated forms of records that had been stored for ages in the silent halls of the Library of Congress and air them out; he scanned them, preserved them, and kept history straight. He turned books into memory chips, magazines into CDs, and audio tapes into soundsticks. He was a natural. Whatever form the information took, you could always count on Dan Huckabee to save everything that a less careful archivist might have discarded as useless. That was why he’d been hired. After the old Library of Congress had been unearthed from the decades-old rubble left over from the war, the New World Government had chosen Dan Huckabee to unearth and preserve its troubled past. The problem was getting him to shut up about it.
A favorite topic of Dan Huckabee’s was heroes. There were lots of heroes in the old times, he said. People used to stand out back then. People used to be noticed. That was real living. His sister remarked privately that Dan Huckabee was noticed frequently; it just wasn’t in a positive light. He didn’t seem to care. No, Dan Huckabee would persist in attending parties despite the declining cordiality of the invitations and tell people what it was like to live in ancient times, times when one man could change the world.
He told stories of wars, of conquests, of civil rights movements and stirring court cases. He told stories of political coups and new scientific breakthroughs. He told anyone who would listen (and even those who wouldn’t) about President Madison, who stood up to the War Hawks in Congress and prevented a disastrous conflict with Canada; about Wang Weilin, who single-handedly halted the progress of encroaching tanks and allowed thousands of political protesters to escape Tiananmen Square unharmed; and Alger Hiss, who stood up to his enemy McCarthy and proved triumphantly that he was not a red spy. Dan Huckabee told the stories of heroes. He never let the disinterested stares or blank looks he got stop him.
Late at night Dan Huckabee would go through the papers he was sent by the government, red pen always moving to cross out or underline or scribble a few notes. Other men would not have put so many hours into a government job, a dead-end labor with little pay and fewer benefits, but Dan Huckabee was a dedicated man. When he saw the readouts of the new history books with the great names of Madison and Wang and Hiss in big bold letters he felt a stir of pride in his heart. He was a man who stood up for his beliefs, a maker of heroes and a teller of truths. He had never called himself a hero, but when he gazed on his work with satisfaction he breathed to word under his breath for inspiration. Dan Huckabee was a hero. Dan Huckabee was a man who could change the world.