......J. Jacob "Hikey" Throckmorton and his best pal Lester Baxter were inseparable. From the time they met at ten months of age, they had laughed, played, wrestled, explored, and even pirated together. Their imaginations inflamed each other's wild fantasies about distant kingdoms, mysterious islands, dangerous exploits, and beautiful maidens in need of rescuing. Their parents marveled at the elaborate castles they would build out of tables, discarded boxes, old blankets, and rubbish from the garage and attics that adoring grandparents would lavish on the boys. And no one was surprised when Lester began writing complicated three-act plays (of some substance!) for their backyard theatre productions, casting several classmates in highly exotic roles. So when Hikey got the gleaming (and extremely rare!) Delahaye convertible for his 11th birthday, the boys "set out" for a "round the world" tour of the neighborhood. They loudly bragged to passing neighbors about their plans; they told Edert Charmondely, the greengrocer with relatives in Khazakhistan that they would carry secret messages to his Aunt інжір пудинг, and bring back a decorated tin of her famous raspberry Бадам. (Apparently, they were so delicious that a hardened general had eaten one and burst into tears..... for two weeks.) The boys also told Miss Trebetta Gibbons that they were going to find a rare orchid for her when they drove through the remotest jungles of Brazil, and that they were convinced that both the Mayans and the Incans had built as yet undiscovered cities of fabulous wealth there. They would bring back a magnificent jade and gold jardiniere modeled after their leopard god, Tezcatlipoca to hold the orchid....maybe on her custom made "Très Petit" salon Steinway. Although Miss Gibbons was in her 70s, she was still very flirtatious and quite alluring, and she and the boys constantly tried to out-charm each other....On this particular afternoon, the boys had won the field, and Trebetta watched wistfully as they drove off down the sidewalk....a chuckling smile on her lips and her eyes beginning to twinkle with emotion as her "handsome swains" turned to wave over their shoulders and "Yahoo!!" around the corner....their hearty laughter echoed for a few more moments before they were gone. Gone. .....It was later, much later, when the police began to make their way around the town, checking on leads, following up half-heard guesses, looking for clues, that it was determined that Miss Gibbons might have been the last to see them. Or was it Janeela Sharpe, who had put a bright yellow boutonniere in Lester's lapel, "because he was the sunny one", and a bold scarlet one in Hikey's lapel "because he was the daring one"..? Or was it maybe old Vertrushen, the Russian emigre (possibly a once-wealthy count?) who had given the boys his ancient broken dueling pistols (awarded to him "by the Czar himself for bravery in the Crimea!") so that they could "defend themselves against villains, pirates, and Ponzi schemers"... which is how he claimed he had lost his formerly vast fortune in platinum, rubies,.... and exotic spices?? So many citizens came forward to the authorities to help find the popular pair, each one claiming a magical story of wonder, humor, and a deep affection for the boys...and perhaps for what they symbolized to each grown-up locked into the necessary drudgery of actually being a grown-up, day-to-day, year-after-year... For many people, Hikey and Lester had always been, and might always BE, the golden image of youth, excitement, and a distant horizon of ....what?...just waiting over the hill....never to grow stale ...or predictable... or tired. Eyes that never dimmed. Limbs that never ached. And hearts that never ceased to pound...with joy! ...........The boys were never found. The gleaming Delahaye was never found. There were no clues. No leads. But interestingly, none of the townsfolk, nor even the families (once the initial shock had worn away) grieved as one would expect. Outsiders; writers, journalists, and the curious always marveled at how, when the boys came up in conversation, local townsfolk would claim that they expected the boys to return at any moment. People, (quite intelligent ones too), would say that the boys might race into town with the next snowfall, or that Spring was sure to bring the pair back into the public square when the crab apple trees were all in bloom again. Perhaps they'd make their grand entrance down the main boulevard as the great cathedral clock struck midnight on this New Year's Eve.... or wouldn't it be fun if they drove in in full costumes for the Halloween parade and pageant, unmasking in front of crowds of amazed and delighted revelers? ....It was interesting to note that as the years passed, and then the decades, and even the witnesses and neighbors aged and passed away as well, the remaining folks that remembered the stories of Hikey and Lester never gave up, nor even seemed to be trying not to give up... and somehow, the boys would still somehow be just boys. Although many, many years had passed the boys would return exactly as they had left. And finally, when Miss Trebetta Gibbons died, at the great old age of 103, her family found in one of her diaries, something she had written in brilliant azure ink on one creamy parchment page. You see, it was she who had described the boys as "the golden image of youth, excitement, and a distant horizon of ....what?...just waiting over the hill.. ...just waiting.... I'm quite sure they're just waiting...look! Just there….isn’t that them?......Hikey!...Lester!"
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