Herring Problem

“You remember what’s black and white and red all over, don’t ya?”

“A newspaper, of course.  ‘Read’ all over.”  I’m frustrated that we don’t seem to be making any “progress” (whatever that might mean), and I’m sure Red knows it.  “Read skeleton?  A skeleton that has been read?”

Silly grin.  Over-the-top head scratch, mussing up the hair.  “Guess you could read the rack o’ ribs on one.  Braille, don’cha know.”

I just nod.

Red sits forward on his tiny plastic chair, as if he’s going to tell me something important.  But he just sits that way, staring at me.

“A skeleton in one’s closet has a meaning, which could presumably be ‘read.’”

He grins again.  “But what needs read might be red—meanin’ the color, not me.”

I have a new thought.  “A red herring?”

Red clucks his tongue and sits up straight again.  “Seeing Red.  Reading whatever needs read.”  He puts a hand to his ear.  “Herring is like seeing or reading.  It’s all about understanding, isn’t it?  Interpretating.  Cognicizing.  Figgerin’ out.”

I think of Heinlein.  “Grokking?”

He winks.  “Valentine’s day is this Tuesday.  Don’t be a stranger.”

“This still doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, Red.”

He looks serious again. “You call me Red, even though you’ve not yet read.  You expect it to go to a where, even though you don’t see the what.  The where is right here where we’re sittin’, buddy boy.”

I blink, and he’s gone, chair and all.

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