"Hello mother. Hello father. Good-bye, Thaddeus."



Red Townley and his wife, Margaret, prepared to drive to work early one Tuesday morning, when their doorbell interrupted them in the final phases of tying shoes, tugging on heels, straightening collars, and properly arranging skirt seams. Margaret, eight months pregnant, waddled to the door and peered through the frosted glass of the narrow windows arrayed to either side of it, finding a tall, thin, pleasantly smiling man standing on the porch.

"Who is it, darling," called Red from their upstairs bedroom?

"It's a man, dear," she returned, pausing to slip the hook of an earring through the tiny, fleshy hole in her right ear lobe.

"What does he want this early in the morning?"

"I don't know, dear, I haven't opened the door."

"Well, hurry up! We're going to be late again!"

"Yes, dear," responded Margaret with a false tone of subservience. Having fixed the earring into place at last, she twisted the deadbolt lock and turned the doorknob. Besides being tall and thin, she found the man to be handsome and pleasant enough, indeed. "Good morning," she offered crisply. "My husband demands to know what you want this early in the morning."

The stranger smiled. "Mrs. Red Townley? Margaret Townley?"

Her amused smirk broadened, confused, into an uncertain smile, "Yes?"

"My name is Tad. You named me Thaddeus Robert, but I don't like either of those names, so most folks call me Tad."

Margaret tilted her head curiously, assumed she had misheard (or he had misspoke), and responded, "How nice for you, Tad. What can I do for you?"

"I apologize for appearing at your door unannounced, ma'am," he offered, his voice low and even. "Unfortunately, my business with you is urgent and of short notice. I just… arrived… you see, and I have no time to spare." His smile broadened sardonically.

Growing impatient now, and frustrated with the man's obtuse approach, Margaret's smile dropped to a flat press of her lips. She moved to close the door, saying, "If you're selling something, we don't need it. If you're proselytizing for your God, we don't need that, either. Good day!"

"Mrs. Townley, wait a moment, please," he begged, extending his arm to stop the door open, if only a crack. "I have something to show you, which should be quite convincing, I think," he gushed, reaching into the pocket of his trousers, which, she now noticed, bulged with ominous contents.

Half fearing he would draw forth a pistol or his penis, and not inclined to view either, she pushed harder against the door, forcing it nearer to its frame. She shouted for her husband, who immediately came trotting down the stairs to her aid.

"What the hell is going on here?" he roared, upon spying his pregnant wife rushing to slam their front door against the stranger. "I'm armed, you know," he lied, bluffing, before he added his weight to the door.

It slammed shut, and Margaret hurried to lock it. "Call the police, Red!" Fear and anger raised the pitch of her voice, while the burden of her pregnancy shortened her panting breath.

Red leaned against the doorframe to peer through the frosted windows, expecting a bullet to burst through the glass and into his skull. Instead, he found the shadowy form of the man standing there passively. The stranger appeared to notice Red staring at him through the distorted view of the frosted glass, because he loomed nearer, extending his hand to display a shadowy object held in his hand.

His voice muffled through the door, Tad pleaded, "Simply have a look, Mr. Townley. If you decide it's not worth the exchange of a few words, then I'll leave without bothering you further." He waited patiently for a reply, eventually adding, "Please, Mr. and Mrs. Townley, just take a look."

Red tossed a quick glance at his wife, who rubbed her swollen belly and shrugged. Her eyes imparted her diminished fear, now that her husband stood so near, and Red pulled open the door, and then turned his eyes on the object held forth in the stranger's hand. He gasped and took an involuntary step backward.

When Margaret leaned around the edge of the door curiously, and turned her own gaze on the object, she, too, gasped. "You stole it," she hissed! Her eyes narrowed suspiciously, before she turned to hurry up the stairs and into the nursery they had built for their unborn son.

"No," protested Tad, "it's mine. You gave it to me when I was born. I kept it all this time. It's the one item I owned that I was certain you would have, too. That's why I brought it. I knew you would understand, once you saw it."

Red craned his head to listen for his wife, as she rummaged through all the shiny, new things they had laid out in preparation for their son's pending birth. Now he returned his attention to the mysterious object, motioning the stranger to hold it closer for a more thorough inspection. Margaret bounded down the stairs behind him, as he asked, "Is it inscribed?"

Tad smiled and nodded, rolling the palm of his hand in a sinuous, adept motion that turned the tiny locket over to its back. There, inscribed in the metal, they both read the flowing script silently:

"I have no name:

"I am but two days old."

What shall I call thee?

"I happy am,

Joy is my name."

Sweet joy befall thee

Now, Margaret breathlessly presented their copy of the locket, turned to its back, which they had engraved with the same Blake quotation. Beneath Tad's version, however, appeared his name, as he had earlier provided it, 'Thaddeus Robert Townley', along with the date and time of his birth.

...(More Reading Here)