Whether it be Melmoth’s nefarious wanderings or the fatal accordion in Annie Proulx’s Accordion Crimes, the holder of a cursed object, entity or destiny, if they are not enjoying the balm of ignorance and are aware of what they hold, become also owners of a profound moral dilemma. Should they pass the evil on and be rid of it? And so it has befallen us here at DDG.
This macabre predicament originated in a most unlikely way during, of all things, preparations for our Find Waldo Local Party. We have participated in Find Waldo Local since its inception at Candlewick 10 years ago, the year after its invention by that justly renowned bookseller, Carol Chittenden. As part of our party preparations I sent Nick out to collect prizes from participating merchants. I feel strongly that every child should leave the party with some sort of little prize.
About a half hour later Nick came in the back door, his face ashen. “We have a situation,” he said. “Look what I was just given. I’m totally freaked out.” I knew what we were dealing with right away. This was not a normal doll, it was a changeling. It raised all sorts of issues.
1. Was it safe to give away to a child? (Answer: No)
2. Was it already interfering with our minds so that any attempt we made to dispose of it would be fraught with bad judgment? (Answer: Possibly)
3. Was it safe to leave it at the bookstore?
As we were pondering that a customer came in and said, “Kenny I heard you were retiring and getting rid of all your books.” This was a total fabrication and clearly indicated that the changeling baby’s malevolent power was already at work. I looked at the doll. It smirked at me.
I asked Nick about the nature of the transaction when he was given the changeling.
Nick: So I told her we were looking for little prizes for the party. She immediately reached down and grabbed a big bag that had the baby in it and said “Here you go.”
Kenny: We’re doomed.
Meg : We’re doomed.
Kenny: We can’t leave the baby at the store. Someone will have to take it home.
Meg: Not it.
Meg: There’s no way that evil baby is coming home with me.
Kenny: Maybe we’re just imagining all this and it really is just a wholesome toy. I think we should all apologize to the changeling for thinking and saying ill of it.
Nick: Umm. Kenny. It has sunk its insidious mental tendrils in you already.
Kenny: No it hasn’t. We are definitely going to give the baby away to a child at the party.
Meg: Kenny is right. I see that now. We should give it away to an innocent child.
Nick: Yes. you are both right. It should be a prize at the party and make some darling child happy forever and ever.
And so we were all agreed. We will stick with our original plan and give away the changeling to a lucky Waldo finder at tonight’s party. Problem solved.