Simon had always been a curious fellow. That is to say, Simon had always been a fellow with a lot of curiosity. Character-wise, he was no more curious than the NEXT fellow. Curiosity had shaped his life from day one. He had been born so quickly it was as if he had rushed out of the womb on his own to see what the outside world had to offer. His constant curiosity was well matched with a quick brain, so that he was always learning something new and, hopefully, USEFUL. Unfortunately, his curiosity also got him into a lot of trouble. It was a good thing that he was NOT a cat, for otherwise he would have lived a short (if curiosity filled) life. Simon had more than his fair share of luck. His curiosity had yet to cause him any serious harm.
Because of this innate need to learn new things, Simon never really managed to carve a specific place in the world for himself. He always wanted to know how things worked; who made them; why they were made … suffice to say he had a lot of questions about everything. As a result he had quite a few skill sets, without being a master at any. He was a good person to have around if one wanted a capable helping hand, but if one was looking for a committed soul to become their protegé and inherit their life’s work … it was best to look elsewhere. Thus Simon survived by being willing to help when others may not have been, or by being crazy … er … um … curious enough to take on projects that more cautious people might avoid. Because his curiosity would just as likely inspire Simon to take something apart as to try using it untrained, he usually had a few handy pocket tools. He felt like part of himself was missing when he DIDN’T have a way of tinkering with something. This tinkering also meant he was quite good at fixing things … when he wasn’t breaking them. He was the very definition of a Jack of all Trades, or maybe a Simon of all Trades would be more appropriate.
The town Simon lived in was rather small. This fact, combined with his nature, pretty much ensured that not only did Simon know everybody in town … they all knew him as well. If something unusual or unpleasant needed to be done, the first question on anyone’s lips was, “Where’s Simon?” It was not so much that they took advantage of him; he was after all a rather likable fellow. But when you have someone so willing to do just about anything … it was a kindness to LET him. If he got into trouble, the townsfolk would gladly help him out of it (even if some a bit reluctantly). No they knew Simon’s worth. They just didn’t want it to go to waste.
There came one afternoon when the generally peaceful town had an occurrence. Anyone outside was surprised by a sudden streak of fire that started high up in the sky and ended somewhere over there. Anyone inside was soon outside when they heard the sudden ear hurting clap of thunder, followed by a ground rattling explosive thud. Those recently inside were told by those already outside that the culprit was somewhere over there. Everyone headed to the center of town, sure that an explanation would be waiting. The town square soon filled with a multitude of excited voices (with attached bodies), one clear question oft-repeated: “Where’s Simon?” The town elders, just as disturbed as the rest of the inhabitants, soon had everyone at least more quietly excited. They assured the restless townsfolk that the mysterious occurrence would soon be investigated. By the way, does anyone know where Simon is?
Simon was already well on his way to somewhere over there. The townsfolk realized the likelihood of this once their reason overcame their initial mental disturbance. The soon chosen investigation squad fully expected to find Simon already there (once they figured out where there was), ready with some answers. They were quite willing to give him the time to find those answers, if their lack of hurry in setting off was any indication. Meanwhile Simon was so excited by this unusual occurrence that he rushed out of his house without any of his usual pocket tools, a fact that he did not even notice until he was already in sight of the whatever he was in sight of.
Simon approached the point where the streak of flame had not doubt landed with caution. His version of caution was to anyone else a leisurely stroll. In the rolling hills up ahead he could see a billowing cloud of dust, centered on a ring of mild destruction. Getting closer, he could see a small crater had been carved out of the hillside, with a circle of felled trees and upturned bushes cleared around it. Considering how fast the thing had come down, it was not very big, or the destruction would probably have been much worse. Simon was soon at the crater. There was a glow in the center of the crater, not quite identifiable as yet. Simon could not get too close at first, as he realized that the glow was from the heat of passage of the unidentified object. He would have to let it cool before he could truly get a look. It was as he waited for the heat to subside that he realized that he had forgotten his collection of useful items. The glowing thing started to take a more identifiable form, and the heat it generated became bearable fairly quickly. Simon got closer, and his curiosity was peaked even more (if that was possible) upon seeing, sitting there in the center of the crater against all odds, what looked like a jewelry box. He reached for it, his unusual luck ensuring that it was already cool enough to touch, and found that it was solid but not too heavy. It was also very clearly locked.
Simon had just the tool needed to open such a lock. It was sitting right where he left it, back in his home. Curiosity winning over patience (normal for Simon) he opted to find something here to open the box, instead of having to go all the way back home. The very thought of doing this seemed to cause the box in his hand to start warming up again. Suddenly there was a buzz, a pop, and a flash, followed by a stark odor. Simon was so startled by this that he dropped the box. He laughed at himself when he worried that he had damaged the box, considering it had survived its dramatic arrival seemingly unscathed. Picking the box up again, he noticed a glitter on the ground not too far from where he had dropped it. Bending closer, he saw just just what he needed to open the box. Not letting his curiosity of how that happened to be overcome his curiosity about the box itself, he picked up the screwdriver and attempted to jimmy the lock with it. Try as he might, he could not get the lock to budge. The screwdriver was just not the right shape. As if responding to his thought, the box warmed, buzzed, popped and flashed again. Less startled this time, Simon continued to hold the box. He dropped it one more time when something landed on his foot. Picking up both the box and the something, Simon found another screwdriver, this one possibly the right shape to manipulate the keyhole. Again staving off the whats, wheres, and whys that wanted his attention, Simon tried the new screwdriver. With a satisfying click, the lock opened.
Just as Simon was about to open the box, words appeared on the cover. They said, “Insert payment here,” with an arrow appearing, pointing at a hole that was not there before. Simon had left any money he had right there next to the useful tools, at home. Suddenly inspired, he grabbed the pendant he had around his neck. It had been payment for a favor he had done a while back. While he liked it enough to wear it on occasion, Simon was not so attached as to fear losing it. Somehow, it fit right in the hole that had appeared. The hole (and the words) disappeared. With a buzzing, popping, smelly flash, the box opened.
Before he could get a look inside, Simon heard someone calling his name. The investigation squad sent by the town had finally arrived. Carefully setting the box down, Simon went to meet them. No doubt they wanted to know what he had discovered. At least this time, their curiosity must match Simon’s!
TO BE CONTINUED (AGAIN MAYBE) …