This series starts with 178. Leap Boy, back in the news and continues in 192. Billy Joe Takes a Leap and then in 200. The Last Sane Man.
It’s hard to say who made the first mistake. Certainly Leap’s mother should never have named him Leap, even if he was born on Leap Day. Some temptations just have to be resisted. Worse, she should have spoken his name out loud when she named him. Leap Alan Hed, for heaven’s sake. How could she have missed that Alan would become A., and no one could ever meet her son without saying Leap A. Hed.
Leap wasn’t blameless himself. By fighting back to the point of absurdity, he made himself famous enough to come to public attention. Counting his age by leap-day-birthdays and calling himself 16 when he was in his sixties — that’s just asking to be noticed.
Of course Billy Joe Barker was to blame for touting him as a write-in candidate for President. Then when he said that Leap was sane because he really didn’t want to be President, it was the last nail in Leap’s coffin.
People never give you what you want, but they always give you what you don’t want. Didn’t anybody know that?
Shelia Barnstaple of Wilmington, Ohio started a blog called I Want Leap for President. Wilton Damonson of Ash Fork, Arizona started a competing blog called Leap on the Bandwagon, also using the hashtag #LeaponforLeap. You would not believe how many people have 140 characters worth of something to say.
Throughout August, as Donald sank in the polls, people first sighed with relief, then suddenly realized that Hillary would probably win. Someone published a poem anonymously that read:
When Donald came I feared the worst,
If he won it just might kill me.
He surely was the worst of worst,
But second worst was Hillary.
Within days the doggerel was re-posted four million times, and a hundred and ninety-two people were claiming authorship.
Meanwhile, Shelia Barnstaple and Wilton Damonson combined forces and the draft Leap movement really took off. Leap found his house in Dannebrog surrounded by reporters. It looked like Marilyn Lovell’s lawn in Apollo 13. Leap came out with a shotgun to run them off, but they only clicked their cameras faster. He retreated. The shotgun was never loaded, since Leap was basically a peaceful fellow, but the hashtag #Leapforlawandorder raced around the globe at the speed of light.
Leap drew the shades and locked his doors, turned out all the lights but one, and settled in to wait out the silliness with his paperback collection of Nero Wolfe novels. After an hour, the reporters started pounding on his door, then on his windows, and finally on the walls of his house. He couldn’t call for help since he didn’t have a phone, but his neighbors took pity and brought in the county sheriff. He drove the mob back into the street.
That night, Barnstaple and Damonson posted a call to join Leap in his Silent Vigil for America. Three hundred thousand people promised that they would.
Sometime during the night, a darkly clothed figure joined the reporters breifly, then quietly faded away. Once it was light the next morning, Armin Arkin of WFUD noticed that the back door was ajar and announced that he was going in. Within minutes, the street was empty and the house was jammed with anchors and their cameramen elbowing for room to broadcast, but Leap had disappeared.