The Story of The Lance

George Orwell’s book 1984. That’s why I started telling you about Lance.

Tell me again.

He had some mental disability. I forget what his actual diagnosis was. He was homeless. But he never broke the law, always polite, mannered, and respectable. Very well kept and clean. Amazing exception for a homeless person with mental disability, I think.

Where did he sleep?

I don’t know where he slept at night. But all he did every day was walk up and down Duval Street in downtown Key West. He used to hand little flyers printed in a printing place to everyone passing by: The Lance Rules written on them. And bumper stickers. Would stick them on people’s cars. The Lance Rules. He loved attention.

One day, he found a big piece of cardboard, probably from a fridge box, about 12 x 4.5 feet, and he wrote on it with black paint and huge very elaborate letters: THE LANCE. Like an artwork. And he would drag the cardboard behind him, like an enormous banner, holding it at one corner, up and down Duval, the full length on the street, from beach to beach, all day for weeks, honest to God. THE LANCE. Until the cardboard got worn down on the opposite corner from too much dragging on the sidewalk.

How did he look?

This don’t matter. The hobbit in The Hobbit book was never described. It doesn’t pertain to the story. What matters is the story, not how he looked.


He was a young guy, about eighteen- twenty years old. Slightly chubby. He looked normal, is how he looked. Like everyone. You wouldn’t know he was mental. Like Rainman, remember the film? Normal.


He always carried a black Mead notebook. Every day he would write a wish-list of things he wanted that particular day. Things he needed right then. His list would start fairly realistic and the extravagance of his wishes would increase as the list grew. At the end you could read: I wish for a helicopter.

The first wish would be something like a cheeseburger from McDonalds, but with all sorts of stuff in it: mushrooms, onions, bacon, and ham. Something that doesn’t sound unrealistic, but is not on the menu. But that’s what he truly wanted to eat. If he really needed a watch because he didn’t have one and he wanted to know what time it was, he would ask someone sitting in a coffee shop, What is a real good watch? And they’d tell him, a TAG watch. A TAG is a good quality watch and it is expensive, no way he could get one. But he would write in his wish-list:

1.      I wish for a hamburger from McDonalds with mushrooms, onions, bacon, and ham;

2.      I wish for a TAG watch.

3.      I wish…

About 80% of the things he would wish for would realize in a mysterious way, honest to God. Like that TAG watch. One day he just showed up with a TAG watch. Someone bought it for him or gave it to him; he didn’t steal it for sure. I think people just liked him.

Once, he wrote in his notebook: I wish for Harley Davidson boots with bright orange laces (which they don’t make). And he got them for free, only with bright red laces instead. One of these guys in the shop just gave them to him. And they cost probably like three hundred dollars!

(He never showed up with a helicopter, though. If he did, I would buy myself one of those black Mead notebooks and start writing my own wish-lists…)

How many wishes?

A full page. You know these black Mead notebooks? It was always the same notebook, and the list was always a page long, every day, so as many whishes as there are lines on a page. Thirty two, I believe.

Thirty two whishes per day…

Yes… One page full of whishes… I got some of his Mead notebooks full of whishes. I kept them. Somewhere in a box in my boat.

Really? Can I see them?

Sure, I have to dig them up…

That’d be cool… What about the book?

One day he showed up with the book, 1984 by George Orwell. I don’t know where he got it from, could be from the library. He would walk up and down Duval Street, the full length, from beach to beach, holding it two inches from his face, not looking where he was going at all or who was coming in front of him (people had to avoid him), reading out loud from the book. So loud he was actually shouting. Everyone could hear him. He did this every day for two months, honest to God! When he got to the end of the story he would start reading it all over again. Walking and screaming all day so that people would listen. I don’t know how many times he read it like that. Every day, all day, for two months. He probably red it like ten times at least.


I think that’s how the book was meant to be read… Shouted out loud in public for months in a row by someone considered outside the social (and mental) norm… Perfect

The book should be mandatory reading in high school.

It’s like a slap in the face.

A wake up call.



A conversation with my friend Richard Michael Jaworski in Key West. 

Categories: Collection of Stories about People, Key West Florida | Tags: | 36 Comments

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36 thoughts on “The Story of The Lance

  1. Pingback: I Speak In Song Titles | Cheri Speak

  2. Cool post. Sounds like some people I’ve known. I like your angle on blogging-the conversational thing has a ring of truth and immediacy. Seems our blogs have a similar approach. Though I fear mine is a bit more labored. Looking forward to more.

    • Well, thank you!

      I will check out your blog as soon as i get some normal internet signal here in 3D…I am getting very pissed off with the internet here…It load a page per day….

    • the lance

      hi there, my name is lance.
      i love mcdonalds filet O fish sandwitch-is how ever i don’t like touchin’ those worms that you all like to put on those hooks. yikes!!

    • i wish i had the option to lay on my back and look at the stars.. too bad.. this rat holed niehgborhood i live in stinks…..
      the lance

  3. Bravo m`lady………bravo indeed!

    • the lance



    • no body believes me when i sayh that the richest person on the planet gave me a dollar,, well,, or well!!

      is big brother an actual person,,,,, did somehow the message get to (him?/her?) that i would be reading 1984 over and over et ert et et et e te te t cetera cetera,, anyway just another false memory…..or just a delusion,, who cares i know that i don’t i love makin’stuff up…like the time when i hit myself in the head with a potatoe

  4. This is beautifully written; this conversation, this bit of life…

    Intriguing to the end. Have you seen the notebook yet?

    • Thank you!

      No, Rich promised to dig it up and show it to me. For me to see the notebook will be like seeing a treasure… I will let you know if or when i see it.

    • the lance

      are you married?


    • today i might get a crew cut.. i gotta go incognito again. it stinks to know how to gets yerself famous. i got to unlearn how to no to do that..
      the lance…….of course i am way way to much str-r-r-r—-wretch-ching the truth… jim-maw-knee-crickets!!!! i am at it again tellin’ here all of deese here ole lies and stuff.
      i need to go get me a glass of water

      the lance

    • the lance

      wow, your gore-gee-us

      the lance

    • i never broke the law… hee- hee- hee- hee-hee- hee. 🙂

      the lance

      • i wish i never started smoking cigarettes but hey that ok sooner or later we all die a miserable terrible death like jumping off of a cliff into a pile of gel-low or eating way too many marshmellows or trying to figure out out how much for that doggy in the window or trying to figure out how much should i selll that little green S-kah-mow pie ,,you know the kind of cake that is chalk-kow-lit covered. i love those.
        the lance

  5. Agree it should be read by all!

    • the lance

      i guess all the beautiful woman on the planet just dig the lance! are you a woman?

      no for real i want to thank you all for remembering me. i miss you too. i miss my friends. i wish i could come back to key west to live. i have a dog and a girlfriend here in chicago.if there was some way for me to come back to key west i would. i am on social security and food stamps ….my income is 1000 a month..true-ly i know how to survive in key west to the T. her and i talked about it but we can’t find a way. or i guess i can’t ..i miss schooners whorf and the bulll and the green parrot and jersey slim that plays a really nice harmonica. if i could ever wish for something it would be to visit key west or to live there. maybe someone could start a bring lance back to key west fund or somehting but then again who am i ? well, any way thank you for the compliments. if you wish to write my address is 3329 S. Morgan St. chicago illinois zip code 60608 lance david skelton is my full name

      • the lance

        lance i think your your kinda coo-coo.

        sincerly, the lance

      • Lance, i am so happy you found this blog and that you are real and well in Chicago. hell, i knew you are real but i have never met you. the story i heard from a friend and i liked it so much i had to write it down.
        i have no internet since almost a week. as soon as i get a normal connection will write more.
        you should come down in key west soon. hop a train or hitch hike.

      • Lance, I never imagined in my wildest dreams, as they say, to get in touch with you.

        How old are you?

        I am glad you have a girlfriend and a dog and a place, but i wish you were happy wherever you are…And you sound like you are not…But then again, define happiness…

        Chicago is a cold place.

        I haven’t met anyone who moved from Key West to Chicago. But lots who made the opposite move.

        i went on the Schooner Wolf couple of times, met captain Finbar. Next time i’ll ask him about you.

    • i dont know what all the big deal and all all i did was shake the town upside down of all its pennies nickels and dimes you know like howdy dud-dee meetin that whask-cull-lee rabbit

      uh? i need to get me a glass of water
      your friendthe lance

  6. the Lance

    hi my name is the lance…nowadays i play harmonica…i just fininished eating some waffles that i got from the toaster. i hate low calorie syrup but it has to do. i live at 3329 S. Morgan st. in chicago illinois.
    my magic jack phone number is 1-773-599-6225 today is 5-15-2013 at 1:35 A.M…..thank you for saying good stuff about me. please tell the librarian a thank you that she gave one day. that all the diploma’s i’ll ever need. sincerly The Lance……

  7. the Lance

    i mean please tell the librarian a thank you for the smile that she gave me one day. in essence because of that i felt that was something earned. i

  8. the Lance

    it seems like everyone has there own slant but hey i guess that’s o.k. all i was was a stinky bum acting crazy

  9. the lance

    what in the heck happened to the comments i made? i wish i was computer literate.

    the lance

  10. the lance

    i wish i had my own advanced FMRI pistel so i know who’s doin’ me wrong…….just point and shoot and whal’la i knows whose thinkin’ those evil con=spear=run=cies against m,e.

    the lance

  11. the lance

    sorry for being disrespectful. i should be more serious. i guess i was just happy from the attention that….——– …..late-ly i have been getting kicked to the curb

  12. the lance

    my phone number is 1-773-599-6225. it is a magic jack phone number and the computer has to be on if i am going to be able to recieve calls. call OCD if you like. or put it on YOU TUBE under the title THE LANCE IS COOL!!! put “it” means thus being it being the phone number itself on you tube. call 24-7 ….i think that maybe i have a bad memory and i wish i could remember stuff that had happened and if i could remember that stuff then i would be like awake in recollection and we– you and i — could rem-ma-niss about stuff that had made us happy in the past… does that sound wierd? i gotta go for now …..i need to get a drin k of water

    the lance

    • we- you and i – could rem-ma-niss about stuff that had made us happy in the past…

      i am not him, who remembers you. i am she who imagined you.
      Still, this is do-a-ble..

      come to Key West

      We will be here until the end of June probably and then leave…go…disappear…

  13. the lance

    how do i exit this page so that i could go to a page that will allow me to print what i see?
    the lance

  14. i wish i knew this computer stuff. psychology no problem, computo-? duh? yep.

  15. Pingback: The Lance is Real | The Life Nomadik

  16. Hi LANCE,
    It’s MOMO, thanks for your emails! I sent you a reply to your gmail, but I understand you’re not figuring out gmail yet. I’m in Italy, so I’m not really using my phone.

    I’m really glad to know you’re alive and doing alright in Chicago! And it’s great to hear all these Lance facts. I never thought I would know the story. Also sorry about the unshaven look, that is sloppy cartooning on my part. I wanted to describe your appearance as urgent, raw, and real, in contrast with the comfortable Key West vacation haze. Too easy.

    And you should totally write about your story. You probably wont have to give up harmonica either. I think you’re a real genius. It’s great to hear that you’re alive, you have a girlfriend, and you’re skating. The skating and license to loiter is hilarious.

    Enjoy Spring –

    And thanks “Lifenomadik” for the interview story of Lance, and this space to say hi.


  17. lance

    i am forty one years old and on medication. i think hitch hike-ing would be a bad idea. also sleeping on cardboard at the post office would be a bad idea. if i ever decided to visit key west i would have to stay with a friend or friends and diefinite-ly not go all crazy like like i used to behave during the night time sometimes. of course i would have fun but not all wild unless the sun was down and everyone was bear hugging each other then i definite-ly would have to bear hug.

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