The Missing Vital Organ

This amazing love story starts like this… BINGO HAD A STRANGE, empty feeling. It wasn’t hunger. He ate and he still had it. It didn’t thirst. He drank a lot of pop, too. Bingo didn’t know exactly what it was. It was just a huge internal void.

It was as if some vital organs had been secretly removed from his body and beamed up to some alien. And now this alien was stretched out contentedly, saying, “Ah,” while on earth Bingo suffered in confusion.

Perhaps, Bingo thought, he could use this empty feeling later in one of his science fiction novels, but now he could only wait for it to pass.

This was the third day of the emptiness. It had started that terrible afternoon when his mother had mistaken the incident in the kitchen for a romantic encounter. Ever since then, there had been this emptiness, which was not improving. If anything, he was getting more empty.

Bingo got up from the sofa. He said, “Come on, Misty. Let’s go to the store.”

At the sight of her leash, Misty began trembling with excitement.

“Don’t get your hopes up. I’m just going for some noodles and a can of tuna. Tonight I’m making tuna lasagna.”

Bingo hooked the leash on Misty’s rhinestone collar. He was glad to have Misty these days. With this terrible three- day emptiness, he needed both companionship and eye contact. Misty’s eyes watered a lot, so it was especially satisfying to tell her his troubles.

He and Misty were going down the steps when the mailman arrived. “I’ll take those,” Bingo said. He glanced down and stopped.

The top letter had his name on it. Mr. Bingo Brown. He loved the way his name looked with a Mr. in front of it. A name like Bingo needed a Mr.

He lifted the envelope and held it in his hand as if weighing it. He smelled it for the scent of gingersnaps, but the letter only smelled like U.S. mail.

Bingo wondered if he would be able to control himself when Melissa started using perfume. If the scent of gingersnaps sometimes drove him mad, what would perfume-which was a chemical actually designed to drive men mad-do to him? Could he-

Misty whined at the end of her leash.

“In a minute, Misty.”

He put the rest of the mail in the box and, slipping the end of the leash on his wrist like a bracelet, he opened his letter.

Dear Bingo,

I was really glad to get your letter because after your phone calls stopped, I thought you had forgotten I was alive.

I’ve seen my new school, but I know I’m not going to like it as much as Roosevelt Middle School. For one thing, you won’t be there.

A girl in my apartment building says the science teacher is neat. As you know, I’m going to be a scientist and a rock star, so this is important to me.

Bingo stopped for a moment, remembering the day Melissa had announced her dual careers to the class. “I am going to be a scientist and a rock star.” It had been like a movie he had seen recently, and he had fallen instantly in love with Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde.

He went back to the letter.

I wrote Mr. Mark a letter, giving him my new address, but he hasn’t written back yet.

I think of you a lot, Bingo. I hope sometime I’ll get back to see you, or maybe you could come out to Bixby for a visit. You ask your mom and I’ll ask mine.

Love forever, Melissa

P.S. I asked my best friend, Cici, to come over and take a picture of you. You probably don’t know Cici, but she knows you because I pointed you out to her in the hall one day. If you don’t want to have the picture taken, you don’t have to.

Bingo stopped at the corner. While waiting for traffic, he put the letter in his pocket. Then he picked up Misty so they could cross the street. He had already learned that Misty was so afraid of cars she tried to run under them for safety. Above all, he did not want to have to say to Billy Wentworth, “Remember that dog I was keeping for you? Well, she got run over.”

He put Misty down on the sidewalk, and they continued walking.

Bingo said, “Misty, I could never go to Bixby. For one thing, my mom wouldn’t let me. And also, Misty, I don’t particularly want to go.

“Oh, I wouldn’t mind going somewhere. I like to travel. A plane ride, even a train or bus trip would probably do me a lot of good right now.”

He paused before he went on. “What I wouldn’t like would be getting there…being there…”

He stumbled and gasped. Misty came to the end of her leash and looked around, her wet eyes startled.

“Oh, Misty,” he said.

He clasped his free hand over his heart.

Now Bingo realized what had happened to him. He realized what the terrible, empty void was.

He looked up at the sky as if the answer had come directly from there.

Of course, he was empty!

He had every right to feel empty!

He would be an inhuman beast if he didn’t feel empty!

“Misty,” Bingo said with infinite sadness. “I am no longer in love.” Misty was looking back at him, holding eye contact. Her tail trembled.

“I don’t know how it happened. How could a person be in love for eternity, no, for infinity, and then-” he shrugged helplessly, “then, nothing!”

Misty waited.

“This is the first time in six, no, seven months that I’ve been without a real burning desire, and I don’t use that word “burning” lightly. No wonder I’ve been feeling terrible. I’m the kind of person who has to have a burning desire.”

He picked Misty up and tucked her under his arm for comfort.

“Perhaps I won’t have any trouble falling in love again. After all, one time I fell in love with three girls in ten minutes, and my dad still falls in love at drugstores and supermarkets. I got the gene from him.

“But, Misty, would anybody other than Melissa fall in love with me? Having Melissa fall in love with me was pretty much a miracle, to be honest with you, and how many miracles happen to a person in one lifetime?”

The Bi-Lo doors parted, and Bingo entered the store. He walked purposefully through Produce, Dairy Products, and Cold Cuts.

“I must do one thing before I get the noodles. I want to go to the cookie aisle and smell the gingersnaps. This is a test, Misty. Because if I don’t feel like calling Melissa when I smell gingersnaps, then I’ll know for sure. See, the first time I rode in a car with Melissa-our substitute teacher was taking us to the hospital to visit Mr. Mark-as we got in the car, Melissa brushed against me, and I smelled gingersnaps. Ever since then…”

Bingo trailed off and reached for the gingersnap box. He took it down and stood to look at the picture of the round, cheerful, brown cookies.

An expression of sorrow came over Bingo’s face. He returned the box gently to the shelf.

“Yes,” he told Misty, “it’s over.”

As Bingo got his groceries and headed for the checkout counter, he thought how life had a way of U-turning.

At one time in his life, he had wanted desperately to fall out of love with Melissa. He had been in love with Melissa and Harriet and Mamie Lou at the time, and he would have given anything, anything to fall out of love with any of them he didn’t even care which.

Without thinking about it twice, he would have put in his journal under


1. Falling out of love with Melissa.

But times had changed life had made one of its cruel U-turns. Now he would put it firmly under TRIALS.

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