Theophanes is a New-England-based blogger, traveler, writer, photographer, sculptor, and lover of cats.
Many people believe that Robert the Doll is the real life Chuckie, a three foot terror that has been known to cause bad luck for almost a hundred years. People from all over the world visit him and then write back letters telling him what bad luck they've had since seeing him. I didn't want to feel left out so I wrote my own letter. Everything in it is absolutely true and I am working on making a coffee table book of the whole story which can currently be seen on my travel blog, Chasing Marbles.
When my boyfriend and I decided to take a tour of all the lower 48 states I had to include a visit to you. I mean Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon are great but how many people can say they’ve visited a cursed and cackling three foot doll? Certainly no one I know of. The truth is I have been smitten with you for years, ever since I saw your adorable little doll face on a documentary when I was just a tween. My boyfriend had no idea who you were but after I told him about “the haunted doll” he was all for tracking you down. We started in NH and on the eighth day of our trip we were on the keys, heading straight for your current residence. We were a bit shy to come in but once I saw you sitting there in your glass case, proudly cuddling your stuffed lion, I couldn’t have been happier. We asked you for a photo and I took a snap with my cell phone and my boyfriend took yet another shot with his camera. We were delighted to see you didn’t black either out. I figured we must be friends after that. I mean I did see the letters on the wall blaming you for various misfortunes, but maybe these people had muttered you were creepy or something. I don’t know how a doll thinks but I kind of figured it’d have to be something along these lines. I did the opposite. I told my boyfriend how adorable you were. And we even bought a magnet of you for our fridge!
We left figuring everything was still great. We were only going to be in the Keys until that evening so we were trying to catch one of those boat tours of the reef. Lo and behold we walked into one shop that told us we were literally 5 minutes late for their last tour. We continued driving and continued having this problem until we finally found a hotel with a big boat ready to go out. We bought tickets and happily boarded but something was off. There was a lot of noise and some rather harsh cursing coming from down below the deck. Our captain was shouting back to the workers to be quiet and stop tweaking out the passengers. Another half hour went by and she announced the boat was broken and we couldn’t go out. We never found another one and missed this fantastic experience. I didn’t really want to blame it on our previous visit to you but then strange things kept happening. When we went to Mississippi the river flooded and we were forced to find different routes to our destinations. Then the humidity spiked at 98% on a night that was also 90 degrees. We were forced to sleep in our Jeep that night, having found no camping grounds, and just as we thought it couldn’t get any worse the biggest cloud of mosquitoes I have ever seen filtered in through our windows.
A little discomfort is one thing but experiencing almost every natural disaster this country has to offer is quite another. As it turns out the Mississippi flooding was just the beginning of it. We were sitting at a McDonalds in Kansas when we were told we’d just outrun four tornado touchdowns. From there we drove through a smoke cloud in Arizona that was the beginning of the largest forest fire in the state’s history. We also witnessed a live lava flow in Globe Arizona just oozing out aside the highway. On our way to Yosemite we found out the road into it had been completely bowled over by a mudslide. We had to drive two hours around it, up a mountain that was also a military base, where soldiers lined the roads with loaded rifles making sure you didn’t stop. Up, up, up, we went until we were surrounded on all sides by ten feet of snow and signs reading, “Do not stop, avalanche zone.” In Texas I had a one-on-one encounter with a hungry peccary, and in California my boyfriend came within an inch of stepping on an enormous rattlesnake. That was nothing compared to the angry stampeding buffalo that thundered through our campground and came within six inches of the cord holding up our tent one night as we were trying to sleep in Yellowstone.
Maybe natural disasters are beyond your control, and maybe you don’t have a gift for animal whispering, but I do think you had something to do with our car troubles. You see when we were in Indiana we only had $80 in our pockets and a full tank of gas to get home. That’s when on a hundred degree day a metal gear in our engine inexplicably snapped right in half and our car puttered to a stop. The mechanics dealing with it said they’d never seen anything like it. It took us hours to get to a mechanic as we were in the middle of a Twilight Zone-like cornfield with no towns in sight. Since it was late afternoon on a Friday we were wondering what on earth we could do. Luckily you were foiled. The AAA driver that picked us up drove us way out of his way to a mechanic that fixed us up that day. We also found someone to loan us the money for the bill. We were on our way.
The second time we had trouble was in New York. We were just a day away from home but my boyfriend wanted to stop in and see some old coworkers and friends and show me around the town he used to live, which coincidentally his crazy ex-wife also lived. She’d kept busy lately by sending hundreds of angry text messages and hate mail to the both of us. We were in an old garden cemetery just enjoying a relaxing walk when we heard a thunderous crash. It was a branch, or rather half a decent sized tree, that had fallen directly on top of our Jeep and a motorcycle whose driver leapt off the machine and dove for cover just a millisecond before the tree would have smashed him like a bug. No one was hurt… except Jaclyn, our Jeep. She sustained such grievous injuries that she flat out and died as we drove into our friend’s parking lot. Again we were able to buck your bad luck. My boyfriend’s crazy ex-wife never found out where we were and therefore never had a chance to stab us mercilessly in our sleep after breaking in. Also with the help of some friends we were able to fix the Jeep with a piece of Tupperware, some Gorilla glue, and of course duct tape. I have yet to come across a curse powerful enough to hinder the mystical abilities of duct tape.
We made it home, with a lot of help from friends along the way, and had a wonderful time despite all your mischievous little antics. I know you were annoyed by this so I can understand why you shattered the screen of my cell phone that had your picture as its wallpaper. I know, it was you who made a $10 screen so impossible to fix that I was forced to get a new phone… but you know what? I’m still smiling and so is my boyfriend and as for my new phone… well how could I not have your adorable face still on it? You may have won a few battles but I’m afraid we won the war. Continue to hail us with bad luck if you wish but I think you may have just found your match.
With love and no regrets, your friends,
Typhani & Rudy