by Sean Lewis
“THE HANDYMAN WHO COULD SPEAK IT ALL”
Published in ACCENT: A JOURNAL OF WORDS
John Magpie works as a handyman in Washington, DC. He can tile, he can roof, he can finish basements and flatten driveways and… he can also speak 57 languages.
Wait. He's looking through a Romanian-to-English dictionary right now. So, 58.
Call back next week. He'll be at 63.
How does our mind work? What keeps us from communicating with the ones we love? And what allows us to share words with complete strangers? What gets lost in translation? And… most importantly, what is gained when words are foreign to us?
These were the questions that struck me when I heard John's story. First, he was reticent to speak with me. He is a private person. He- as he says- has had his ups and downs. But even he can't deny it's strange. Especially since six months ago, he could only speak English.
So what happened?
What untapped this potential?
What made a handyman looking to keep only to himself be able to communicate with the entire world?
“I was in an accident,” John says matter-of-factly.
And with that, we were off.
My first question: How do families learn to talk?
"Well, they're usually bad at it. I mean, talk at each other? I grew up with that. Or
do you mean talk, like understand? Because- ha- MAN, I am not always sure we
John is good-natured. He plays classic rock as we drive around. Or classic to him-
“Do you like Def Leppard?”
"No," I say.
“Yet. You don’t like them yet.”
“Pour Some Sugar On Me” is playing as he drives me around Dupont Square in DC. He has jobs today. A door he has to fix, a faucet, and some overhead lights.
“I can’t believe I’m doing this. So, where do you want to start?”
The beginning. Doctors say our parents are the first people we learn language from. We copy it. And it's only out of need: for food, for shelter, for comfort, that we finally decide, “okay, to get this stuff, I should talk like these giant people around me.”
“I’m Italian American. Very hard working. Very loud. You know, LOUD!”
He turns up the volume, and Joe Elliott starts shouting over the drumming of the one-armed drummer (the main thing I know about Def Leppard).
“I studied French in high school and got a C,” John says with a grin.
"What do you think was your need?" I ask. And he looks at me. "To learn to speak
so many languages. What was the breaking point that made it a necessity?"
It’s clear he’s never thought about the question. Yet the answer comes easily to him.
"I was an outsider from the family I was born into. And then I lost a family I tried
to make. In both cases, it seemed I didn’t know how to communicate. So
language, I think, became a new way to try.”
Language Attrition is how someone loses a language, their native tongue, even. It is usually caused when a new language comes in and takes the original language’s place. I bring it up because John lost a language before he gained several of them.
“Oh. You’re talking about my ‘love’ language.” He makes air quotes. “Yeah, that
was a fun language…."
It’s the part of the interview that John is the most nervous about.
Eighteen months ago, John was unmarried with a five-year-old child, Andrea. Her mother Jezebel had met John in school. And on this night, they were heading back from a wedding of one of their best school friends.
“Charles, I never thought he’d get married. A lot of my friends grew up with
parents who maybe stayed together when they shouldn’t have. So we were wary.
But seeing Charles up there, dancing, smiling. Jezebel and I talked about it. It was
a fun night.”
John doesn’t pretend he wasn’t drinking.
“I had a few.”
He was under the legal limit. I’ve seen the police report. No one would’ve arrested him but still-
“I do see it as my fault. Yes.”
They hit a patch of ice. The car flipped.
All of them survived, but he wasn't the same. His daughter was traumatized by the accident and stopped talking.
“Yeah. We went to a few doctors who told us it was all mental. It would come
back in time. But it hasn’t. She even uses sign, currently.”
John started to punish himself.
“I got scared all the time. I kept feeling I couldn’t protect my daughter. And that
danger was everywhere. And suddenly, I saw a tragedy any place I looked.”
A buzzing in the living room had him tearing walls apart. He was afraid that there was faulty wiring. That he and his family would be engulfed in flame in the night. And it would be his fault for having not realized it.
“It was actually a battery for our exercise bike’s odometer.”
John’s daughter was adopting his ways.
“She was picking her skin. She was basically copying things I was doing at home.
I was checking my face for moles. Thinking I had cancer. If I noticed anything in
our house, a crack in a wall or anything, I would suddenly think our foundation
was crumbling. Maybe that was a metaphor.”
It was too much for Jezebel. So the two of them split up. And through it all, Andrea was still not talking.
“I wanted to learn a way to connect with her.”
Language works by attaching a symbol to an idea. So, if we have the word “cat,” it doesn’t mean anything until we attach an image, characteristics, experience, and philosophy to it. So in that example, c-a-t is nothing more than a collection of letters until we agree that it is a furry pet who may or may not want your company.
Work was becoming meaningless to John in this way. The symbols associated with it in letters and numbers no longer seemed to denote anything.
"I worked for a statistics company. We would be hired out. Sometimes we would
have an architectural firm contacting us to run numbers on local populations.
Other times, the FBI sent us numbers to review crime patterns in places."
“You worked for the FBI?” I asked.
“NO. I mean, once, as an outside hire with my firm. I was like the 30th most
important person there.”
“How many people were there?”
“Probably, 15.” He laughs.
He doesn’t even remember what they did. But he does know he was having trouble.
“I wasn’t functional anymore. I’d go to work and I would be panicked there.
Then, I lost my job. Now I had no partner or family. No home. So I moved back in
with my parents.”
And he started to learn languages.
“I was watching TV, and they were talking to a cook in Rio de Janeiro. And the
sound, you know D.C. is an international city, so I know I’ve heard those tongues
before. I had heard the Portuguese. So, I don't know…."
He could seemingly understand it.
“It’s like I could see the words as they were speaking them. What they said was
hitting my ear and then in real time I could see the translation in front of me.
What they were speaking started as gibberish in my uneducated ear but as soon
as I ingested it I realized that they were talking about the best way to braise a
chicken. I was taken aback. listened some more and then switched to a Spanish
language channel, and it was the same. The words translating in front of me.”
“Did you tell anyone?” I asked. “I mean, did you tell anyone about this new
ability? That you could seemingly understand languages you hadn't heard
“No. I didn’t tell a soul.”
He was down on his luck. But his brother-in-law got him a job. Let me correct that. His brother-in-law hired him.
Gbenga Abadaki’s from Nigeria, who came to America as a boxer. He fought in the Junior Olympic games, met John’s sister Pam, and stayed.
He delivered pizzas for a short time with a racist boss, saved up his money, and started to fix houses. That led him to open a cell phone kiosk at the local mall. He also sells real estate. And in his own words,
“My side hustle is YouTube.”
He shops for collectibles at yard sales, estate sales, any sales anywhere, and then auctions them online. He was showing me some comics he had recently bought, along with garden gnomes.
“I find it very hard to sell the gnomes,” he says. “But I like weirdos.”
He said it was Pam who had pressed him to hire John.
“John’s really screwed up,” she said. “Bring him in and help him work on the
“Of course, honey,” Gbenga said.
Gbenga says, “you always say ‘of course’ when your wife asks you to do
As Gbenga and John built sheds and redid bathrooms, John listened to Rosetta Stone language tapes. This was his first attempt at foreign languages. But he learned them insanely quickly. He would download news broadcasts from other countries, podcasts from international celebrities, or anything that had people talking, and from simply hearing the syllables come together, he could follow along, listen, repeat, and eventually respond.
“I was quietly learning all these words and phrases,” John said
And then language did a weird thing to John. It got him involved in strangers' lives.
“I was at the corner store,” John says. “And a man spoke Hindi in front of me. The
item he was buying was five dollars, but he was getting charged double. The shop
owner kept telling him that it was a credit card surcharge. Which, of course, is
bullshit. I intervened."
The shop owner was pissed. John’s not allowed to shop at that boutique anymore. When John left the man, the one who was speaking Hindi, the man asked how he could repay John.
John shook his head.
“No payment needed. You were getting screwed.”
The man’s name was Hanvesh Patel. He was from Bombay, India, and spoke only Hindi. He started to track down John.
“I wanted to make it up to him,” Hanvesh says in his improving English. “Where I
am from, you do not carry debts. What he did for me gave me a debt, so
invariably, I needed to help him in return.”
And back home, Hanvesh had an interesting job.
“I was a therapist.”
John was pleasant but didn’t see a reason to take Hanvesh up on it, though, John’s involvement in other people's lives seemed like a compulsion.
In the next few months, John was suddenly on adventures. All created by this "gift."
- He overheard a woman on the phone speaking Turkish. She was saying her
boyfriend had stolen her passport, so, she couldn't go home. She wanted to visit
her mom, who was dying. So John had her direct him to the boyfriend. John then
talked the guy into letting him into his apartment to give him free maintenance
on a broken window in the back. While there, he copped the passport.
- There was a neighbor who spoke Filipino, who was studying to be a naturalized
US citizen. John became their tutor.
- There was a woman who wanted to say goodbye to her dying father but couldn't
find which hospital he was at.
And there was the local basketball team... It was all local kids from Columbia Heights. DC is already a diverse city, but Columbia Heights might be the most diverse section of it. 45% of the area is Hispanic, 20% is black, and 16% is Asian. You can hear 10 different languages spoken just while walking down the street.
So the local church in Columbia Heights created a youth team. But all the kids spoke different languages. All were at risk.
John was at the church. Praying for his daughter. He goes to mass every Saturday. Well, he doesn’t go to mass, but he does go to church.
“I don’t really like mass,” he says. “I don't like being told what I'm supposed to
think about what they say in the lectures in the Bible and all of that angel and
devil stuff. But I like having a quiet building where I can go and just say help me,
or I am sorry, and I can just be with my thoughts.”
John was finishing up and leaving when he heard a ball bouncing up and down and an argument outside. One person was speaking Spanish. The other person was speaking Filipino. He followed the sounds.
“They were like 13-16 years old.”
The kids were arguing about who had done the good thing or the wrong thing –
But they were both wrong.
“They were really bad at the fundamentals of the game. It was a game of 5-on-5,
and nobody seemed to know how to shoot a basketball correctly. First, you must
keep your elbow in and balance your feet on the ground. From there you let your
leg shoot the ball through your hand.”
John is actually a very good player.
“I played in high school. Too slow for college. But as I said, I know how to dribble,
defend, shoot, and pass. There are basic rules to it.”
There are also basic rules to learning languages. When people talk about how children learn languages, they talk about three specific things:
One, what you hear the most is what you’re going to be able to replicate.
Two, people learn to talk about things that they're interested in. So language can be learned quickly if it relates to things of interest.
And three, languages are more easily learned if it’s interactive.
John broke basketball into threes for the kids, as well.
- One: dribble with your eyes up and watch your teammates.
- Two: shoot with your feet balanced and apart.
- Three: defend by watching your opponent's belly button. Where it goes, he will
So, the kids play a new game. And it's smooth. The defense is better, the passing is crisper, and shots ACTUALLY go in. BUT, the big thing is how he got them to communicate.
“I drew a few pictures and I’d write the same word in each language so they
could see it and hear it AND relate it to a word they know. You don’t need a lot of
words to play a game. In basketball, you just need ‘pass,’ ‘shoot,’ and ‘defend.’ By
the end of the game they knew those words. And ‘shit.’ I said shit a few times.
That made them laugh.”
The Pastor who first invited the kids in watched and asked John to keep coming back.
And John did.
"Again, I'm not into religion. But I like the building. I like the kids. And I love that
they all speak different languages. The truth is, there's nobody else who could
possibly coach them. So I said yes. And that's how I started leading the team.
Unfortunately though, they're still really awful.”
All over the city, John could get people to talk to him, to open up to him.
Still, Andrea was not talking. And John? He told no one about this new skill, not even his family.
“I've been really lost. People were very worried. And I thought someone might
try to take it from me if I shared it. Like they want me to use it to get a job. Or use
it to try and help them. I wasn’t interested in any of that. I didn’t want to do
anything financial or career motivated with this. I just liked hearing the voices. I
liked being able to understand.”
At the same time, he still couldn't bring himself to talk with his ex or daughter.
“I felt guilty. My daughter Andrea was dealing with trauma. She kept having
nightmares about the car crash. And I blame myself. If I had been paying more
attention. Or if we hadn't gone to the wedding. If I hadn't had a drink or two. I
wasn't drunk. But I'm not sure if I was sober either. And we survived. But our
family didn't. I was a mess. And my daughter was this mirror. And I could see
that. But I couldn't express it. And it's bad, but it just got a little easier for me to
not be around….”
He trails off as he says this. When you talk to his former partner Jezebel, paints it very simply:
“His daughter just wants to see him. He may not have value to others, but he has
value to her. It's sad to watch. And don't get me wrong. He's a good dad. When he
does get out of his head and try and see her. But it's like everything else. He gets
worried, and he thinks he's doing it wrong. Or that he doesn't understand. He's
just not OK with not knowing when it comes to her. And then it becomes this
awkward experience for both of them. I love Andrea. And I loved John. It's tough
for me to watch. Especially since he's probably the kindest person, I know.”
Every Sunday night John's family gets together for dinner. It's him, his sister, his mother and father, and Gbenga. It's a homestyle Italian meal. Tons of food.
“I have gained 15 pounds since my marriage,” Gbenga says. “All of those pounds
have been gained on Sundays.”
In between the lasagna, fettuccine, and bruschetta, there is conversation.
The entire family is funny. They make fun of each other. It's good-natured most of the time. But there’s always a little truth underneath it. They give advice. They cajole.
They want the best for each other, it seems.
And it is very, very loud. But the entire time I sit there eating an incredibly good meal, I notice that John doesn't speak at all. I don't speak that much either. These are all first and second-generation Italians. And they're all speaking Italian.
Is this where John's affinity for language comes from, I wonder?
We tell everyone I am a new friend, not a reporter. No one bats an eye and in between kibitzing in Italian with one another, they invite me into the conversation.
“John has always been a bit on the outside,” his sister Pam says. “He’s
introverted. He’s nice. He’s a little weird, too. We're all loud, and you'll probably
notice. He doesn't say anything. I mean, he also doesn’t know how to.”
See, that's the most peculiar thing. The Italian is fluent at this table. Each family member tells me they’ve spoken full Italian since John and they were kids. And yet he cannot speak the language.
Even now, with all these new words and idioms filling his head, Italian escapes him.
“Yeah, I don’t know how to,” he says when I ask him.
The truth? I've been working on this article for three months. In that time John has learned Farsi, Gaelic, Rwandan, Hindi, German, and Navajo, and he's even begun reading in Greek.
But not Italian.
At first, I thought he just hadn’t tried. Maybe a way of differentiating himself from his siblings. But in his room, he has numerous Italian books, translations, and tapes; he even has a computer program that's supposed to help him specifically with Italian.
But, as he says-
“It just doesn’t stick.”
He was living anonymously. And that was okay with him. But then…
“We were at a diplomat’s home,” Gbenga says. “He was Nigerian. On the
consulate. I’d gotten hired because I was also Nigerian. Nigerians are good like
that. John and I were working upstairs. Changing closet doors while listening to
Souls of Mischief. Do you know them? From the Bay Area? They have this song
called ‘’93 'til infinity’. Whenever the weather gets nice, I put that song on and
dance. John dances too. He is a pretty good dancer. I am horrible, but I love it. So,
we were dancing, and then the maid downstairs started yelling for help.”
John rushed downstairs. The maid was Polish, and her English was not great. Luckily, John actually knew Polish at this point.
“The girl had ingested something that was making her sick,” John says.
Gbenga came in and saw the girl, but:
“I actually don’t speak Nigerian. John was shocked at this.”
He kept yelling:
“But you have an accent.”
“I do?” Gbenga said.
As he told me later:
“I mean, I know I have an accent. It comes from growing up with my parents.
And I can say hello and goodbye and offer pleasantries. But in a stressful
situation, where people talk fast, and a girl might die? No, I don't know how to
speak Nigerian in that situation.”
But much to Gbenga’s surprise, John spoke Nigerian.
John could talk to the little girl, and she started to relax as much as she could.
However, her eyes were rolling back in her head. And her mouth was frothing. The maid was freaking out. Gbenga was trying to call an ambulance.
But John was steady.
He told me when the accident happened with his own family. He was frozen. The car had flipped and his daughter was trapped, metal was around her. And John was stuck upside down in the driver’s seat. He couldn’t unlatch his belt.
He was unsure if his girl was okay. He just had to wait. She was the first one pulled free by the fireman. His wife was next. And he was left in that car. Watching as his little girl was put in an ambulance, without him being able to say a word to her.
He swore he would never be that powerless and that useless again.
So, now in the Nigerian diplomat’s home.
John got the girl to tell him what she had eaten. It had been a small, purple square that she found on the floor. Rat poison that also looks suspiciously like a taffy candy. Luckily, she had only taken one bite, but it was enough to send her into shock.
John was able to relay the information to Gbenga, who was then able to get enough information from the EMS that they were able to treat the girl and stabilize her while paramedics rushed to the scene.
The end of the story?
The girl is fine. And as her parents have said, John saved her life.
And John’s life changed dramatically. The Nigerian Diplomat? He told everyone about this man he met! A handyman who could speak a hundred languages (he was excited, so, he embellished a bit).
And from there the papers got ahold of it:
Handyman Who Speaks 100 Languages Saves Girl.
100? Their fact checking sucked.
“I could speak 50 languages at that point. And I still came up short.”
He was doing this for him. Here was a guy who felt on the outside of his own life, and by learning the language of his neighbors, he was creating community.
But how does that work when the whole world starts to know? And wants to try and use you?
Two people in separate cities paid the most attention.
Emily Friesen, a doctor who studies the brain at MIT and-
David Shapiro, an FBI field agent out of DC.
“We have met once,” Shapiro says. “What makes me a good FBI agent is my
memory, specifically facial recognition.”
Shapiro is in his late 30s. He's intense. His eyes focus on you immediately, and you can feel him trying to break down each small part of your conversation. His job is to find a use for people or expose what they are hiding.
“So,” Shapiro says. “John's firm did statistical analysis when he was still an
analyst. They worked with the sports leagues, some Fortune 500 companies, and
us. John was pretty low-level there. But he often was brought in to do the grunt
work. For example, they helped us look at voter fraud in Maryland County. I did
background checks for that job. So when I saw the newspaper article, I brought it
to my bosses.”
"As a personal interest, or-"
"As I know this guy. He’s been in our office. And… This thing with the languages
could be useful. Or, he’s up to something. I assume most people are up to
Dr. Emily Friesen found out differently. The diplomat whose daughter was sick, his name is Chinoso Agozawe. He is the Health Services Minister of Nigeria. He and Emily had collaborated on a project together.
“When I heard through Facebook that his daughter had gotten sick, I reached out
to him to express my concern and happiness that everything turned out all
Emily is blonde and stunning. She is in her forties but looks a decade younger. She is warm, and it's easy to assume her bedside manner who be incredibly calming. And that if you had a daughter come close to death, she would know the perfect words to make you breathe.
“That's when he told me about John and what John had done for him. And the
story of John. My work concerns the brain. So, this? I was compelled."
Now, John's case wasn't the only one ever heard.
No, there had been a person in Norway who suffered a traumatic brain injury and woke up capable of speaking a plethora of languages. But that was immediate. Literally the moment the man awoke, he could speak Japanese. So researchers wondered if there were some language genes we all have that had been unearthed in the man's accident.
But that did not explain John. John wasn't traumatically hurt. His daughter was. And he didn't suddenly speak languages- he learned them. Just he learned them incredibly fast.
“That was unfathomable. It was the type of thing that I could do endless studies
on. And if it could be harnessed, it could be amazing to mankind. If we could
mimic how he opened his mind to that, could we do that for other aspects of
human potential: math, science, more?"
See, both Friesen and Shapiro had some thoughts.
“I think he might be a beacon of hope,” Dr. Friesen said.
“I think he might be a threat to everything we know,” Shapiro said.
He couldn’t care less about either.
He kept coaching.
“We had won our first game.”
The kids were getting better at the basics. The language barrier was solved as best as possible by John. He had started bringing in crude comic books that he made at home. He had the kids read them side by side and then trade them. Then he had the kids lead each other through the books in their own native languages. Also, he had different kids lead parts of practice that were repetitive (like stretching). This way the kids heard new words for a routine they knew by heart.
His good deeds were also getting a single mom from the team to start noticing him.
“No comment,” John said.
Reporters would come by to get his attention, but within a week or two, they'd fall off when they realized he wouldn't engage with them. However, Agent Shapiro was going to the games. And Dr. Friesen was leaving messages from MIT.
“Sure, there were phone calls. Emails. But I didn’t have anything to offer them. I
don’t wanna work for the FBI. I don’t want people in the lab doing tests on me.
I’m mainly interested in talking to my neighbors.”
At home, his parents were hurt. How could this child of theirs learn almost 60 languages at this point- 18 since the article was published- and not be able to speak his mother tongue of Italian?
It felt like an affront.
And his daughter, she couldn’t understand how he could connect with these kids and not her. Andrea made him feel powerless. But these basketball players?
“I was helping someone.”
Despite not interacting with the newspapers, people kept getting involved with him. Some called him at home or left him notes; others got referrals from friends he helped.
- There was a woman from Rwanda who, as a child, had lost her brother during
the genocide. She now believed she had found him on Facebook and was
searching DC to meet with him.
- A stand-up comedian from Hungary who wanted to perform at the same VFW
his grandfather had played.
- A young athlete who’d run away and started hiding from Chinese government
interests while at a demo in the States.
He helped, and it brought him joy. But when he was in the newspapers, he tried to show it to his daughter. And she didn't respond. Jezebel told him she had been like this lately. Zoned out.
It brought John to tears.
As he repeated to me:
“I never felt part of one family. And I feel left by the one I tried to make. I wonder
if the languages were an attempt at a third chance.”
He forgot he had already told me this. Because it didn't matter if he had or not. This was his truth.
It broke my heart. John is a good guy. I’ve seen him help these people and all the new ones who come looking for him.
That’s when he finally asked someone to do a favor for him.
Hanvesh Patel. John found him at the new bodega that Hanvesh frequents.
“I need someone to talk to.”
I reached out to Agent Shapiro and Dr. Friesen before I left DC.
"His team is doing well," I told Shapiro, knowing he went to every game.
"Yeah, he's got them running a flex offense. It's smart."
“He still on your Most Wanted list?”
"I see him help people every day."
“Why is he a handyman, then?”
“He likes it. He likes the low profile.”
“You don’t help people if you want a low profile. You don’t show up in papers, no
matter how much an ‘accident’ you treat it as.”
It was clear Shapiro would keep an eye on John. Perhaps, even try and conscript him to get a closer look at what he was doing. And Dr. Friesen…
“I’ve come to DC.”
“You have?” I asked.
“George Washington University has the one the nation’s best mind-body
institutes. And I am on loan to head a language wing.”
“Have you told John?”
“I have. I’ve told him I can help him. Therapy. Support. Money. He’s special. And
it’s also honestly a duty of his. To have a gift like that, you should use it.”
I mentioned all the people who had contacted John and asked him for help.
“He helped them.”
"I know, and trust me, I want him to continue. We need more good people in the
world. But I also want him to realize the full amount of good he could do."
The table is alive at the family dinner the night before I return to New York. Everyone is speaking fast and furious. And John is there with an English-to-Italian dictionary trying to take part.
I’m not his only guest, either. Hanvesh has arrived. Much to John’s mother’s worry-
“Can I get you anything to eat? All I have is meatballs,” Mrs. Magpie says.
"I moved to America for meatballs," Hanvesh jokes. Or doesn't joke. He's a bit dry,
so it's hard to tell. “I would like all the meatballs.”
“I thought he was vegetarian,” John says. “See, there’s stuff you can’t even learn
by being fluent. You need time, too.”
Gbenga and Pam hug. John’s parents kiss. Hanvesh sings a song.
And then there is a knock.
And in come Jezebel and Andrea. And John almost cries.
It’s about as perfect as it can get.
On the flight home, I dream about John. And that dream? It’s in languages I don’t speak. And though I can’t make out the words, I can understand the events.
I see him every week helping people.
Working with Gbenga to open a business where he can literally offer his services to non-English speakers. Problem solving. Supporting. Helping.
I can see the basketball team he coaches making a run for a title that brings their families pride.
I can see him breaking down in Hanvesh’s arms about how he can’t connect with those he loves.
And having hard conversations with his mother and father about being a boy who felt less loved.
I see the FBI keeping tabs on him. Assuming he’s a threat. Trying to drag him into trouble. And even their hearts getting possibly warmed by the hope he brings to people who need his help.
I see Dr. Friesen peering into his skull. And his heart. And his reticence to let her see, as well.
And I see Andrea.
That lone pursuit. I see him doing anything, to make her smile. And more than that, to make her speak.
I sleep like a baby afterward.
The hum of a million languages in my head.
SEAN LEWIS is a record-breaking comic book writer who has written major characters from SPAWN to SUPERMAN. He's an award-winning playwright whose work has played internationally and off broadway and he's a radio commentator who's been heard on THIS AMERICAN LIFE. His next project is the short story collection OPEN ENDED (some things go on forever) which includes the story in your hands and a novel.