Posts Tagged 'Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story'

A HORROR STORY

Chains

by Paul Aurandt

“It was in a little colonial house in eastern Virginia . . . that Henry lived . . . apparently alone.

“One late evening, friends came to visit.  Henry and his guests sat in the candlelit parlor, quietly talking, watching the flickering shadows on the walls.  There was a lull in the conversation . . . and a noise!

“Faint at first, then louder.

“A scratching sound . . . beneath the floor.

“Everyone had heard it.  Henry . . . pretended not to.

“There were lighthearted remarks about ghosts and such, and after a minute or so, Henry stretched, yawned, asked to be excused so that he might retire for the night.

“When his visitors had gone, Henry tugged at his collar, sighing.  He was alone again.  And none too soon.

“For as Henry’s friends rode off into the dark, against the fading counterpoint of their horses’ hoofs . . . another noise.  Like the first.  Followed by the sound of dragging along the floor joists beneath Henry’s feet.

“Henry stiffened, silently regarding the inconspicuous trapdoor in the hallway floor.

“He reached for a lantern, approached the secret entrance, bent down, took hold of the smooth iron ring . . . and pulled the false panel away.

“Henry peered into the gaping blackness, lowering his lantern, then himself, into the cold cellar.

“As the kerosene flame cast a soft yellow light all about, there was a rustling in the corner.  A figure, barely visible through the gloom, cringing in terror of the brightness, waited.

“Henry walked toward it.

“Henry lifted the lantern . . . and the light fell directly . . . upon a face!  A horribly animated countenance with twisted features which snarled one moment and wept the next.  A blanched wild-eyed visage, filled with torment.  The face . . . of Henry’s wife.

“Henry could not recall the duration of her madness, nor could he recount the endless procession of days and months he had descended the cellar stairs to feed and to care for her.  All the hours of Henry’s life had by now blended into one solitary hour of despair.

“For Henry, the anguish had not diminished . . . to watch his wife tug against her straitjacket restraints . . . to see his love imprisoned through no wrong of her own.

“Once in a great while, like the pulsing glow of a near-cold ember, the faint reflection of a happiness long past shone in the beleaguered woman’s face.  And then, like a flash of black lightning, the horror would return.

“These were the visions that stalked Henry from the depths of that secret place . . . the waking dreams he took to bed with him at night, and at morning into the warm sun.

“Was this on his mind?  Did those visions haunt him, as he addressed the assembly at St. John’s Church the next day, March 23, 1775?  These were his words:

“‘Shall we try argument? . . . Shall we resort to entreaty? . . . What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? . . . We have petitioned, we have remonstrated, we have supplicated . . . . We have been spurned with contempt. . . . There is no longer any room for hope. . . . Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains? . . . Forbid it, Almighty God! . . . I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!’

Patrick Henry.

“And now you know THE REST OF THE STORY.”

IF ONLY THEY’D BEEN AWAKE . . . IF ONLY WE WERE AWAKE . . .

This gem is from PAUL HARVEY’S THE REST OF THE STORY, by Paul Aurandt:

Futility

Best-selling books, big box office, and bombshell television specials are hitting us over the head with a new club.

Fact.

The once-popular strictly fiction format is gradually yielding to history, phasing out in favor of truth.

Example:  Roots.  ABC’s twelve-hour, sure-fire winner.  It held you . . . because it happened.

Here’s another novel of historical significance: Futility.  That’s the name of the book, Futility, and you say you’ve not heard of it?

You’ll wonder why you haven’t, when I tell you THE REST OF THE STORY.

The novel Futility is about the maiden voyage of a fabulous ocean liner, a ship far larger than any previously built, labeled “unsinkable.”

The vessel sets sail for New York from Southampton with a cargo of complacent passengers, strikes an iceberg en route, goes down.

And the ship was called . . . the Titan.

So why didn’t author Morgan Robertson come right out and say it?  His Titan . . . is obviously the Titanic.

Both liners were touted as the biggest, the grandest, the most luxurious . . . and foolproof.

Both struck icebergs on their maiden voyages between Southampton and New York.

Both were inadequately stocked with lifeboats, resulting in heavy casualties.  And both sank at exactly the same spot in the North Atlantic, each on a cold April night.

It would seem clear that the real-life ship Titanic is the setting for the novel Futility, so why would the author have allowed for such minor discrepancies as these?

The Titanic was eight hundred eighty-two and one half feet long; Robertson rounded off his ship to eight hundred feet in length.

Even the apparent abbreviation of the name Titanic to Titan seems hardly worth the use of literary license.

After all, both liners were triple-screw, could travel up to twenty-five knots, could carry up to three thousand people.

All of the specific similarities were there, and yet author Morgan Robertson did not call it history.

Why?

In the first place, Robertson’s characters, the passengers aboard the Titan, were purely fictional. Their personal interactions, problems, fears, were examined closely, and at last the ship sank.  Hence the novel’s title, Futility.

But there was another type of “futility” demonstrated in Robertson’s book . . . a hopelessness that not even the author himself could have recognized.

For the novel that so accurately described an authentic disaster in the Atlantic, the book that charted an invisible course through the water to an appointment with death . . . owned up to its title beyond the wildest dreams of its readers.

For the literature that in every way seemed to recount . . . in reality foretold.

In 1898.

Fourteen years before the real-life Titanic set sail!

 

And this one is from MORE OF PAUL HARVEY’S THE REST OF THE STORY, also by Paul Aurandt:

The Light Show

On the night of April 14, the ocean liner Californian has progressed to within fifteen hundred miles of her destination, Boston Harbor.

Midnight.

Second Officer Herbert Stone is due for watch on the bridge.

Reporting for duty, Stone finds his apprentice seaman glued to a pair of binoculars, staring toward the black horizon.

He, the apprentice, has sighted a steamer in the distance.

He can make out the ship’s masthead light, her red light, and a glare of white lights on her afterdeck.

Stone asks the apprentice to try for communication by means of the Californian‘s Morse lamp.

A bright beacon signal is flashed.

No answer from the steamer.

“Will that be all, sir?”

Stone nods; the apprentice leaves to make record in the patent log.

Now Second Officer Stone is alone on the bridge.

Glancing idly over the water, a white flash catches his eye–a white flash of light in the direction of the distant steamer.

Stone scratches his head, picks up the binoculars.  Four more white flashes, like skyrockets bursting in the heavens.

Stone notifies the ship’s captain.

Over the voice pipe, the captain asks if the flashes appeared to be company signals.

Stone cannot say for sure.

The captain then requests further communication attempt through the Morse lamp.

By now Stone’s apprentice has returned to the bridge.  The beacon signal is employed once more.

Still no answer from the steamer.

Lifting the binoculars to his eyes once more, Stone observes three more flashes in the continuing light show, but now his attention is drawn to the steamer’s cabin lights.

They seem to be disappearing, as though the steamer were sailing away.

At 1:40 A.M., Stone sees the eighth and last white flash in the night sky.

In one hour, all the steamer’s lights have vanished into the blackness.

It is not until 4:00 A.M. that anyone on board the liner Californian learns THE REST OF THE STORY.

Neither the Captain nor the Second Officer aboard the Californian had interpreted the white skyrocket flashes as cause for alarm.

It was a matter of coincidence that they had been seen in the first place.  For earlier that night–the night of April 14–the Californian had reversed engines and parked as a precautionary measure, halted in her course by an immense field of oceanic ice.

That unscheduled stop in the middle of the sea had provided the Californian a ringside seat for an unimaginable drama.

The distant steamer had intended those rocket flares as distress signals, and the Californian–only nine miles away–might have rushed to her aid.

Except for one thing.  The steamer was sending other distress calls–by radio.  And the Californian was well within range of those messages.

But her radio operator was asleep.

The Californian‘s fledgling radio operator–fresh from training school–was fast asleep in his cabin.  And that night the ship’s Second Officer, from his vantage point on the bridge, unwittingly watched the sinking . . . of the Titanic.

FLESH-AND-BLOOD PHANTOMS

The following is from Destiny: From Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story,  by Paul Aurandt:

The Ghosts of the Paris Boulevard

IN THE PHOTOGRAPHIC COLLECTION of the Bavarian National Museum in Munich, Germany, is a daguerreotype dated 1839.  It was taken by Louis Daguerre himself, apparently from the highest window of a Paris building.

The scene is one of a beautiful boulevard stretching into the distance.  On the sidewalk below, a man stands with one foot up on a bootblack’s platform.  A tiny, blurry image.

This is the first human figure ever photographed.

There is something else intriguing about this Paris cityscape.  Something almost unearthly.  Looking at the picture, one slowly becomes aware of it.  Then one is haunted by the desire to learn THE REST OF THE STORY.

Louis Daguerre was an opera scenery painter with an unquenchable scientific curiosity.  For many years he worked with photographic pioneer Niepce toward the perfection of so-called “heliographic” reproduction.  After Neipce’s death Daguerre continued to experiment, ultimately discovering the process that was to bear his name.

The early daguerreotype we’ve been discussing is entitled “Paris Boulevard”.

One appreciates the exquisite detail in the picture from that distance, even the brickwork in the buildings, the tilework on the roofs, the individual cobblestones in the street.  In the windows across the way one sees the wooden mullions and muntins clearly defined.  The pleats in the curtains are easily counted.

Yet, with the exception of that one tiny, lonely figure on the corner, the entire boulevard, a half-mile or more plainly visible in the gleaming sunshine, is utterly devoid of life!

The shadows cast by the slender trees suggest that it is neither early morning nor late afternoon.  The boulevard should be bustling with strollers and shoppers and horse-drawn carriages, delivery wagons, perhaps even romping dogs and children.

But no one, save that one man on the corner, is anywhere in this downtown Paris scene.

Pervading the ancient daguerreotype is an eerie calm, as though someone had just dropped the neutron bomb.

The glorious Paris daylight, praised as unique by generations of artists, shimmers everywhere, illuminating the intricacies of the ubiquitous lifeless objects.  As we observe, we are convinced if there were life to be seen, we would see it.

Down through the ages it has been said in various ways that all around us is an unseen world.  Many say they feel its presence; others claim to have parted the curtain and peered inside.  The skeptics cling to a claim of their own:  no camera ever lied.

So now it ought to be told.

That Paris boulevard photographed by Louis Daguerre was, during the moments the daguerreotype was taken, teaming with flesh-and-blood phantoms, people roaming the sidewalks, horses pulling carriages.  And yet that early daguerreotype process was so slow that only stationary objects could be captured on the plate, like that one man patiently waiting for his boots to be brushed.

History honors him as the first man ever photographed, only because he was standing still!

Daguerreotype1839

DANCES WITH GOATS: A METAPHOR FOR LIFE?

The following is from MORE OF PAUL HARVEY’S THE REST OF THE STORY, by Paul Aurandt:

The Goat-Man of Juan Fernandez

There is a print of a rather detailed eighteenth-century drawing, pastoral setting, the focus of which is a scruffy-looking fellow dancing with a goat.

The ragged character in the portrait really lived.  His name was Alexander Selkirk, and he was the Goat-Man of Juan Fernandez.

As for many young men in the dawning eighteenth century, life on land was not agreeable to Alexander Selkirk.

Back home in Scotland it seemed he was always in some sort of trouble.  Indeed, parish records show that he was cited more than once for misbehavior in church.

In May of 1703, Alex, now twenty-seven, said good-bye to all that, joined a privateering expedition to the South Seas.

Privateers, pirates for hire.

Sixteen months later the ship came to a small island four hundred miles off the coast of Chile.  The island was named for Juan Fernandez, the sixteenth-century mariner who had discovered it and had tried unsuccessfully to colonize it.

Anyway, there was Alex, twenty-eight years old, the appointed sailing master of the privateer.   As the ship was about to leave, Alex and the captain got into an argument.

Tempers flared; Alex gathered his possessions and demanded to be put ashore.  He  was.

“Now what do you say?” We can still hear him shouting from the shore.  “You don’t dare sail without me!”

But the captain standing on the bridge ignored Alex, issued the command to hoist anchor.

Alex’s dramatic ploy had backfired.

Having considered himself indispensable, he was now wading out to his armpits, calling after the ship, pleading for the captain’s forgiveness.

But the stubborn captain had sailed away, never to return.

Thus began THE REST OF THE STORY, the real-life legend of the Goat-Man of Juan Fernandez.  For the explorer Fernandez, upon evacuating the island two centuries before, had left a few goats behind.

The goats would multiply, thrive.  And because they did, abandoned Alexander Selkirk stayed alive.

The wild goats provided meat and milk and skins for clothing.  Those he tamed became his friends.

Four years and four months would pass before Alex was rescued.  He barely remembered how to speak.

He returned to England, became page-one news.  Books were written about him, including one by Alex himself.

Thus this comic eighteenth-century drawing.  A pastoral setting, trees in the background.  And a thatched hut.  And in the foreground, a ragged, bearded, long-haired man, dancing with a goat.

For Alexander Selkirk, the imperiled privateer, the Scottish seaman whose temper got him stranded on a dot of soil in the Pacific–the Goat-Man of Juan Fernandez–was the flesh-and-blood model for fiction author Daniel Defoe.

He was the original, the real-life, Robinson Crusoe.

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