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  • Writer's pictureSteve Vertlieb

Return to Oz

In a startling alternate universe, a man grasps at the fading remnants of sanity and sobriety, clutching feverishly at the tentative remembrance of consciousness, while falling helplessly through the bizarre contemplation of air travel during the time of Covid 19 … an irreversible "Odyssey of Flight 33" … and … "Nightmare At 20,000 Feet."

"There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. It is an area which we call … The Twilight Zone." "You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Your next stop, the Twilight Zone!"

"Steve Vertlieb, age 76, vice president in charge of nostalgia. Successful in most things but not in the one effort that all men try at some time in their lives—trying to go home again. And also, like all men perhaps, there'll be an occasion, maybe a summer night sometime, when he'll look up from what he's doing and listen to the distant music of a calliope and hear the voices and the laughter of the people and places of his past. And perhaps, across his mind there'll flit a little errant wish that a man might not have to become old, never outgrow the parks and the merry-go-rounds of his youth. And he'll smile then, too, because he'll know it is just an errant wish, some wisp of memory not too important really, some laughing ghosts that cross a man's mind that are a part of the Twilight Zone." (Commentary courtesy of Rod Serling)

It has been a year filled either with dramatic trauma or traumatic drama, depending upon which side of the hospital bed you happen to have shared. Major open-heart surgery consisting of valve replacement, as well as valve repair, the stitching together of a hole in my heart, and the corrected leakage of blood into the heart cavity ... combined with an additional challenge consisting of a "Pseudoaneurysm" in my groin and a blood clot in my leg have conspired to keep me hospitalized for five weeks this year, the bulk of which occurred from April 25th until late June. In cinematic terms, following multiple consecutive hospital confinements, I journeyed "Back To The Suture 3."

Now, to the part of this annual horrific tradition that you've all been waiting for. I'll be returning to Los Angeles for my twelfth nearly consecutive two-week vacation just six weeks from now. My annual dream vacation to the merry old land of "Oz" is just what the "Doctor" ordered, depending upon which side of the aisle you're sitting in and is, conversely, a potential nightmare for many of you. This "Long Day's Journey Into Flight" lifts off on Thursday morning August 25th, culminating with my inevitable return home to Philadelphia two weeks later on Thursday morning, September 8th. This trip will be a first in that I'll be traveling with my wonderful lady, Shelly Trust, at last. Consequently, there is the potential for some logistical issues, most of which will, I "Trust," resolve themselves with the passage of time. Like Professor Marvel in a well-remembered 1939 MGM musical fantasy motion picture, I hope to "hob knob, conspire, and otherwise confer with my fellow wizards, witches, and warlocks" either in Los Angeles or, perhaps, "somewhere over the rainbow" during our forthcoming journey along the yellow brick roads of your fair Metropolis. I am truly looking forward to creating innumerable, wondrous, magical new experiences and memories with each of you. Your friendship, time, and affection are profoundly cherished commodities "in my well documented book" that I would neither abuse, nor ever take for granted.

Consequently, I remain deeply respectful of your own time constraints, as well as your very real concerns for contamination, and sincerely appreciate both your quality of time, courage and friendship. Please let me know if you're open and receptive to my vampiric emergence from the shadows, and arrival in your "neck" of the woods, as I respectfully put the "bite" on you once again. Rest assured that, like both Lassie and Rin Tin Tin, we've gotten all of our shots. If you're receiving this missive, as quite evidently you are, it means that I love you, and that I treasure our sporadic moments, hours, and days together when I journey West. I've rarely felt this affection for you all more acutely than now, following two severe health challenges and flirtations with death in less than a single year. Please let me know if you're receptive to our meeting once more, while spending some meaningful time and "music" together. My residence during my stay will be at the home of a mutual friend, Mike Sandler who, along with his wife, has been kind enough to invite us to share their home in Thousand Oaks. I'll have my "cell" phone with me at all times during my trip. The warden has mercifully allowed it. Prison "Bars" are, after all, better than none.

I'm truly excited about flying through your hopefully "friendly skies" once more, with my head in the clouds, ever "High," yet never "Mighty," while renewing our long friendships, and sharing "my time allowed" yet again. It is my sincerest wish that each of you, ever so compassionately, share this most earnest and genuine desire. With Peace and Love, Steve.


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