Uriel Fox and the Enchanted Spectacles – a story by John Zurn

Uriel Fox and the Enchanted Spectacles

The morning air felt brisk as Uriel ventured off the highway and began hiking through the rather large town called Discovery. Weary and hungry from his long two day hike, he sat on a bench to rest. His feelings of isolation intensified as he watched the people hurrying past him. They all seemed to have places to go.

Uriel wandered all the way to the edge of Discovery before he noticed an elderly woman sitting in an old blue chair. Her ebony eyes seemed to gaze right through him as he approached her. “My name is Mary Light Feather,” the ancient woman exclaimed. “Would you like to join me for a cup of coffee, here on the porch?”

Uriel felt uneasy and surprised that the woman would speak to a stranger on the street, but despite his trepidation, he replied, “Thank you. I would. My name is Uriel Fox.”

Almost before he could sit down, Mary began asking about him in a warm and sincere manner. Uriel felt comfortable around Mary almost immediately, and he began to describe his life experiences. “I stick to myself mostly. I wander through towns by utilizing the shoulder of the highway, so I can connect with various places. However, everywhere I visit, the people are usually unkind, and when I attempt to help them or teach them, they usually reject my assistance.”

Mary listened carefully and replied, “Why do you feel the need to assist everyone?”

“I can’t help it,” Uriel answered.

Mary became more direct, “Do you desire to change things because you feel a genuine need to help, or do you need to control situations instead of letting things play out naturally?”     

Now Uriel felt frustrated, “I just feel it’s important to do the right thing,” Uriel explained. 

“Perhaps you’re not always right,” Mary continued. “Apparently, people don’t seem to appreciate your efforts. You didn’t even mention any friends you might have.”

“Actually, I have none, right now,” Uriel answered. “That’s why I feel alone. I really don’t need friends. However, sometimes my life is difficult.”

Mary thought for a moment then exclaimed, “Well, you have a friend now.”

Light Feather then reached under her chair and retrieved a silver case. She handed it to Uriel, and he quickly grabbed it. Inside was an old pair of horn rimmed spectacles with transparent lenses. Uriel looked puzzled and said, “Mary, I don’t need glasses.”

“These glasses aren’t simply to improve your vision. They’re enchanted,” Mary explained.  

Suddenly, Uriel became more interested in his gift. “Why do you say they’re enchanted?”

Mary replied softly, “These spectacles identify people you actually need to help. When you observe someone who actually needs you, their physical appearance will exhibit a gray fuzzy glaze around it.”

“I don’t believe you,” Uriel replied rudely.

“It’s not a question of belief,” Mary persisted. “It’s a matter of direct experience.”

Uriel, still skeptical, decided that he’d better listen to Mary, since she had no discernible reason for deceiving him. “I’m sorry,” Uriel relented. “Please go on.”

“You seem to be highly invested in helping people, whether they ask you or not,” Mary observed. “These spectacles will help you discover individuals who need help, as well as inform you about people who can truly help you. From our conversation, it seems that you feel completely autonomous, so Uriel, wear these eyeglasses at all times. They should help you find your way.”

As Uriel stepped off the porch, Mary called, “Come see me again. I’m always here.”

Uriel continued down the street, now keenly observant. In a deliberate effort to test the enchanted spectacles, he covered the entire town of Discovery. He eagerly walked every road and alley searching for people who might need help. Nevertheless, he was extremely disappointed when he failed to find a single gray fuzzy vision. Before the day ended, Uriel headed back toward the highway, confused but determined.

Fox shuffled down the highway for several days before he received an opportunity to experience the power of the enchanted glasses. He had just turned off the highway and found himself on a lonely two lane road with a solitary house near a curve in the road.

Uriel hurried up to the front door and knocked, but nobody answered, so he simply pushed past the unlocked entry. He immediately sensed something suspicious was happening. In the bedroom, a young man, covered in a fuzzy gray shadow, appeared to be sitting up in bed motionless. In his hand, he clutched a picture of a woman who appeared to be his wife. Uriel knew he needed to help the seemingly paralyzed man, but he wasn’t sure how to do it.

Finally, Uriel began calling to the young man while gently shaking him. “Sir, are you all right? Sir, I’m here to help you.”

After several attempts to communicate with the man, Uriel could see him rallying, so he encouraged him to speak. “Sir, what is your name? What happened to you?”

The man spoke slowly and he proved difficult to understand, at first. Before long, however, he seemed to recover. “My name is Jim Shields, and my wife Susan has just been killed in a car accident.”

“Oh my Lord,” Uriel exclaimed. “How long have you been sitting here?” 

“Since the hospital called yesterday,” Jim blankly replied.

“Hasn’t anyone come to help you?” Uriel asked in surprise.

“No, I haven’t told anyone yet. My brothers live about a hundred miles away, and I just haven’t the strength to call them.”

Uriel helped Jim into the shower, and cooked some soup for him. Next he searched for the family telephone address book. When he found the brothers’ numbers, he called them.

As Jim slowly began to comprehend the magnitude of his loss, Uriel patiently comforted him until his brothers arrived. Then, Uriel left the house barely waiting for the brothers to thank him. By the next afternoon, Uriel had traveled to several more towns feeling good about his experience prompted by his mysterious glasses. 

While he trudged down the highway, Uriel eventually spotted another side road, so he left the highway once again and began his custom of investigating the landscape. However, he hiked for hours without finding any obvious places to visit. Finally, he came to a crossroads and feeling frustrated; he sat down on the side of the road.

For once, Uriel Fox felt completely lost which rarely happened to him. He felt like being lost meant he was slipping somehow. 

But before he could continue with his musing, a young man ambled up to him and asked, “Are you lost or just homeless?”  

“No,” Fox protested. “I’m not lost or homeless, but you look like you need help.”

The stranger introduced himself as Billy Bumper, and he exhibited a light fuzzy shadow around him. He also looked so intoxicated; he could barely stand, yet when Uriel asked him again if he needed help, Mr. Bumper still insisted he was fine.

Uriel felt baffled. How could he possibly assist Mr. Bumper if he adamantly refused any help?  “Okay, Mr. Bumper,” Uriel replied attempting to end the encounter. “I’ll see you later.”

Fox concluded that the intoxicated stranger appeared to be somebody he could never help. However, as Uriel attempted to leave, the unsavory Bumper grabbed Fox from behind just when Uriel turned up one of the alternative roads. “You’re going the wrong way!” Bumper screamed. “There’s evil on the road you’re taking!”

Uriel’s patience with the fiendish Bumper was finally spent. He freed himself; grabbed Bumper’s arm and thrust him to the ground. As he returned to the road, he felt justified and more confident of his directions.

Yet, this self-confidence proved to be premature. About nightfall on the road, Uriel distinctly heard the terrifying howls of timber wolves. He instantly remembered Mr. Bumper’s warning and began running as fast as possible back in the direction of the crossroads. When he returned to where he had encountered Bumper, Fox could visibly see the wolves approaching in their tenacious pursuit. Uriel swiftly turned up the alternate road and continued running. As if by some miracle, he spotted a canoe next to a swift flowing river. He jumped into the boat and paddled as fast as possible down the waterway. Since the wolf pack appeared to be skittish about swimming after him, Uriel realized that he had made an astonishing escape.

Needless to say, the gray shadow that covered Bumper’s body meant that Bumper was meant to help Uriel, not the other way around. Fox’s arrogance in assuming Mr. Bumper needed his help provided a valuable lesson.

While Uriel continued to safely paddle down the river, it began to rain, first in sprinkles then in torrents. The rain soon filled the canoe, so Fox had to swim to shore to avoid sinking. On the shore, the ground under his feet was already saturated, making it clear that he might need to find a formidable shelter to escape the downpour.  

The deluge continued for three days and nights with no break in the clouds. As Fox followed the road near the river, the surface felt thick with mud. Fortunately, he finally encountered a small town nestled between two steep mountain slopes. Feeling optimistic and more at ease, Uriel raced down a long steep stretch of road and approached the town.

To his utter astonishment and dismay, every individual he passed exhibited the same fuzzy gray aura surrounding them. No matter where he turned, Fox witnessed the same shadow, and he failed to understand what possible meaning the visions could suggest. After a while, he also remembered a news article he had read years earlier. The article described mountain slopes overloaded by a relentless downpour that created the perfect conditions for a catastrophic landslide.

Fox immediately surmised that the entire town appeared to be in danger. If Uriel proved to be correct, the residents would all be buried alive if he didn’t warn them. He realized the most efficient and effective way to notify the community would involve finding the local radio station in town. He gazed up to the sky and discovered a large radio antenna almost directly above him. He raced inside the building and up the stairs, and then rushed into the station’s front office. 

“Sir,” Fox pleaded. “You must broadcast an emergency message! This town is about to buried by a gigantic landslide!”

Before the young man at the counter could respond, the DJ entered the office. She had overheard Uriel’s desperate comments, and took him seriously. “It is possible we’re in danger,” she stated, glancing at Uriel. “With all the rain we’ve had after such an arid summer, I think we should at least warn the people of the possibility of a disaster. If this man is wrong, it will simply amount to a waste of time. However, if he is correct about the landslide, we could save the entire town!”

Since Sue Ann, the DJ, appeared to be one of the most respected citizens in town, the residents didn’t question her emergency message. Instead, the residents raced from their homes and climbed up the road in a wild scene of organized chaos. Unfortunately, they didn’t need to wait for very long to see the horrible event unfold.

The mud, sticks, and boulders rolled down the slopes in a frenzy of destruction just as the last stragglers reached safety. The landslide proved to be unstoppable, as it steamrolled over the entire village. Although Uriel certainly saved all the residents from perishing, their homes, cars and all their other possessions were ruined.

The responsibility for the spectacles had finally proven too difficult to bear for Uriel. The visions the glasses created almost always involved some sort of danger, and he wanted no part of them. How could he spend the rest of his life anxiously waiting for some shadow to appear that might require him to act in a way he couldn’t predict? Mary Light Feather’s gift had turned out to be a curse, and Uriel wanted an explanation.

After reaching Light Feather’s home, Fox vaulted up the steps and banged on the front door. When Mary appeared, Uriel’s voice sounded explosive and disrespectful. “How could you give me the spectacles when you knew how much trouble they could cause me?”

Mary seemed to expect Uriel’s tirade, and answered, “Uriel, do you still believe that you live in the world alone? You should have understood by now that we are all connected. Everyone has some relationship with everyone else. You can’t help people if you can’t identify who they are.”

Fox shot back. “I’d rather remain alone and take care of my own problems.”

Mary paused a moment and then continued, “Uriel, the enchanted spectacles aren’t actually magical. Your own intuition perceived the fuzzy gray shadows. I simply allowed your potential to surface through your own mind.”

“That’s impossible,” Uriel interrupted. “Here, take the spectacles. I never want to see them again.”

Mary took the glasses but also gave Uriel Fox an important message. “Uriel,” she said, “you’ll find that now the visions will appear without the spectacles. Seeing these images has become your burden to carry; your most important purpose. Your life will be more difficult now. However, you will also be much more helpful than ever before.”

Uriel soon found himself near the edge of town ignoring Mary’s assertions and feeling much better. He felt a great burden had been lifted, and he enjoyed the freedom. But before Uriel could truly savor the experience, a beach ball rolled past him on the sidewalk and into the street. Then a little girl appeared with a fuzzy gray shadow surrounding her. She impulsively began to run for the ball, but Uriel quickly grabbed her. The girl’s mother instantaneously scooped her away from Uriel and hugged, kissed, and scolded the child all at the same time. It was then Uriel Fox apprehended the truth of Mary Light Feather’s prediction. For now, at least, his life would be much more complicated, for better or worse.  

John Zurn has earned an M.A. in English from Western Illinois University and spent much of his career as a school teacher.  In addition, John has worked at several developmental training centers, where he taught employment readiness skills to mentally challenged teenagers and adults.  Now retired, he continues to write and publish poems and stories.  As one of seven children, his experiences growing up continue to help inspire his art and influence his life. Website: https://www.portalstoinnerdimensions.com/

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