Dizzying Diaries

        Even Harvey Hirsh himself would readily agree that he was an odd fellow.

        For one thing, he always showered before taking a bath.

       "I hate the thought of sitting in all that dirty water," he'd explain, although nobody ever asked him about it.

        For another, he always wore socks of two different colours and patterns.

       "Fingers aren't treated equally; some have rings and others don't," he'd explain, although nobody ever asked him about it. "Two feet should be equally distinct."

       Harvey also preferred watching television with the sound off, and eating three square meals one after the other at ten-thirty every morning.

       He also had a very odd hobby.

        Every Saturday morning at precisely ten-fifteen, Harvey's assistant Joe would ring the front doorbell and then walk around to the covered back entrance, where he would deposit a full cardboard box, pick up an envelope bulging with money, and leave through an opening in the hedge to the side of the garden. .

       Immediately after his meals, Harvey would dig into the week's delivery, pulling out the notebooks, ledgers, leather-bound books, binders and other collections of diaries.

       He'd read random passages here and there, chortling with glee as he indulged his passion for strangers' lives.

     "What a treasure. Listen to this," he said to Ferris, his pet ferret, one Saturday morning. Then, as he did every week, he read aloud in his odd voice, which sounded much like the spray from an aerosol can. "April 10: Worked. Felt poorly. Almost threw up on Mr. Andersen's desk but managed to get to the bathroom. Home at last and had a good nap, tho' still couldn't manage supper. Heidi called about get-together at the Pink Elephant. Great music. Drank Grasshoppers and B52 shooters. Danced. Great time!!!!!!!"

      Ferris didn't react at all, which is normal for stuffed animals, but Harvey chattered excitedly on..

     "Don't know yet, Ferris; we'll see. But I'm inclined to think D for Drunkard," said Harvey as he lovingly placed the booklet in a large plastic laundry basket neatly labelled D.

     He pulled another small volume from the cardboard box and flipped to a page in the middle. "August 20," he read. "Still no word from Max. Thought I felt the baby move today. Tried calling to tell him, but the phone was out of service. I'm sure he'll call tomorrow."

    "For now, that sounds to me like another double W: either Woman Wronged or Woman Witless," said Harvey. He put the diary in a receptacle marked WW, by far the fullest basket.

     He sat down at his vast desk and slid a large, leather-bound book out of the top left-hand drawer. He pulled a fountain pen from the centre drawer and opened his own diary. Very neatly, he wrote out the day's date and then one word: 'Ditto.'

     The identical terse entry went back hundreds of pages; all the way to January 6, 2004, which read: Had Joe buy people's diaries. Read them. Filed them.

The End

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