Happy Birthday my dear Jackie Jack! I wouldn't be doing this without all the love and encouragement you have shown me. You are a wonderful and great lady & I am so happy fate (& JAL!) brought us in touch with one another. Here is a simple folktale for you. I tried not to make it sad, because it's supposed to be a Happy Day, but you know me! I'm here to keep the tissue people in business (grin). At the very least I tried to make it beautiful for you as well! ( & a little weird)

Very loosely based on the children's story The Man Who Kept His Heart in a Bucket by Sonia Levitin.

I do not own. That belongs to others more powerful and with more lawyers. If I could borrow this for a day I would loan it to Jack because it's her day! – But then let me have a turn after! Please?

The Detective Who Kept His Heart in a Box – A Folktale

The box was beautiful. Simple in design. Elegant.

It was a dark wood. Walnut. He felt it matched the depth of his feelings. His thoughts and his emotions were dark so it seemed fitting that the box was dark as well.

He carefully reached inside his chest and he removed the offending organ, which was simply taking up space. He wrapped it in a piece of silk and laid it carefully in the box.

He closed the lid and he placed it on the shelf of his closet at the back.

He felt freer than he had in years. No more hurt. No more pain. When someone called him Freak or dismissed him as inconsequential or looked at him with fear and loathing, it wouldn't bother him any longer. The allure and desire for drugs disappeared. He thought to himself he should have done this years ago. He was no longer distracted by fear or lust. Love meant nothing except as a chemical defect. His mind raced with clarity, no longer encumbered by emotion.

Through the years he would often check on the heart. In the quiet of the night he would pull down the box to see if it was still beating, if it was still whole. It always was, but it seemed smaller somehow, diminished, each time he opened the box. He reflected on that, but as he didn't have a heart to feel, it really didn't bother him.

And then something happened. Something even stranger, more mysterious. He met a man. A broken man, an ex-soldier and a doctor, the other who didn't keep his heart in a box, but wore it proudly on his sleeve. There was a twinge in his chest, an almost painful burst. There was an instance of thumping and beating, but it was gone and he thought he must have imagined it.

The first night of meetings, of really getting to know each other, something more extraordinary and fascinating happened and made him forget the unsettling sensation of his heart trying to return itself to its rightful place.

There was a shot in the dark, the sound of shattered glass, a body on the floor and a tumble of words said to the Detective Inspector about the identity of the shooter. There was a look, a double take, a pause. Finally came realization and astonishment as puzzle within puzzle unfolded in front of him.

Here was a man who could brighten the darkest corners.

The words moral compass flashed through his head.

If he hadn't deleted the movie about the wooden puppet and the cricket he would have recognized the doctor's place on his shoulder. The doctor was the conscience he didn't have, the whisperer in his ear. It was just what he needed to replace a missing heart.

Time passed and others also began to affect him in small ways. The Detective Inspector came to mean a little more. The landlady/not housekeeper took the place of an absent mother.

He went to his closet one night, the night of fear and panic, in a stir of alien emotions, the night he could have lost the broken man due to a bundle of explosives strapped to his chest. Due to simple arrogance and thrill seeking on behalf of the detective. That night, when he could have wasted everything, he realized just how important the doctor was to him, how much his presence affected him. Alone in his room he opened the box and looked at his heart, astonished. Mr. Grinch would have recognized it. He had experienced the joy of a heart that had grown three sizes. The detective stared at the heart and wondered if it would ever fit inside his chest again it was so full and large. He placed it back on the shelf and sat and thought through the long night.

More time passed and more cases and more revelations and finally came the day when he stopped thinking of the doctor as the broken man, just as his friend. Life was good.

But sadly, when everything began to look bright and shining, when hope rose, came balance. As every good storyteller knows, before the light can truly shine and the hero save the day, darkness once again must reign for a time. The choice to leave, to protect, to save others, to put them ahead of himself was placed before him, like a mantle. He took it up, like a cloak, and wore it with fear and trepidation, but fastened with love and sacrifice.

Before he left and disappeared he went to the closet and pulled out the box. He opened it carefully almost tenderly. Astonishingly the heart was no longer there, just the piece of silk. He placed his hand on his chest in astonishment and he could feel it beating under his skin, returned to where it belonged.

It hurt and it was wonderful, it was terrifying and it was marvelous. It was almost heart-rending. He hadn't planned it, he had avoided it, but despite all of his plans and preparations, his heart had managed to catch up with him.

And after, after he had left behind the ones he loved, the ones who nurtured his heart, there came a time, a quiet time when the doctor was cleaning out the detective's closet and he found a box at the back. He brought it out into the light, curious as to what his friend had kept there, fearing it might be a box of items best disposed of. He sat on the detective's bed and he slowly opened the box.

There was nothing inside but a piece of silk and a note.

The note read simply:

Thank you John.

For you gave me back my heart.