After dalliance, sitting in the park – bold
Aphorism: The important difference between a belief and a dream is that an ideal is transitory but a symbol is timeless.
Henry sat on a park bench in the middle of his lonely planet, his world still spinning off its axis from the night before, a night that just ended this morning. His spinning head, though recently used as a dull auger, seemed intact – intact being a relative term. This tool had just awoken in pieces and was falling apart. Henry reflected in a moment of clarity. Was this all a dream, a nightmare? Take stock. You don’t have a mark on you. No blood…no stains…of any kind…no signs of struggle – except this powder on your clothes, except that panic in the bathtub. Still, he thought, these images swimming in his head must be delusional.
OK, Jim, what do you remember?
Yes, I remember us jumping into bed then – fast forward to my black out. The nightmare sequence – hit pause. The nightmare animals, more or less, could be tracked back to the curious tracks in the muddy parking lot, more or less. A second blackout must have preceded me waking up in that bathtub. Yada, yada, yada, -buried alive, organs deprived then I saw a hole in the wall.
OK, Jim, put hysteria aside for the moment.
I must have escaped her web. Crawling out o from her canopy, I cleaned up – how long did that take? – got dressed, and then exit stage left. Except, in my panic, in the dark, I turned back into bathroom. I slipped on a wet towel I left on the floor. I fell headlong into that bathtub. Sure, I can see that happening: me leaving a towel on the floor, me being half drunk, me being half awake, me a half wit diving head first into an empty pool. You read about it all the time. Could all of this be explained by all of that?
No, Jim, that is crazy-town and you are a block away.
Henry called himself Jim during his self-talk when his alter-ego was being particularly thick. He was Sherlock when he was totally mystified by his stupidity. He was Scooby when his primal instincts overrode his primary instinct for self-preservation. Henry heard Sherlock knocking and Scooby scratching – at once – on this cerebral impasse.
Alright, it was a delusion, none of this happened. I will check myself in somewhere for treatment.
Henry became nervous about his decision – to have his remaining sanity evaluated. He chewed his nails. Yuck! How disgusting. What’s under my finger nails? More grout? No. It’s yellow, flaky chips. Henry’s resolve started to dissolve. Oh, no! I swallowed that lead paint…and I’ve also got a piece stuck in my teeth, that’s what’s making me crazy!
Henry pulled a stiff piece of paper from his back pocket – a sort-of-floss – to remove the paint chip. Not a paint chip. Not his erstwhile finger food. It was harder…like shell? Henry’s analysis turned to paralysis. Yuck again, what kind of slimy thing crawled into my sleeping mouth? Appetizer! The only other way a person would swallow slime – willingly and joyfully and expensively – is if it were drowning in butter with a French pronunciation. His tongue’s bitter secretions reminded him of his tong vow.
No, it’s still a dream…has to be. Some kind of precognition. Paint slivers and snail shivers came from who knows what or where during my selective black outs. My unconscious mind engineered them into the dream – purpose! Henry convinced himself to cop out. It was the most obvious or, at least, easiest explanation. He saw himself returning to his safe, unremarkable life, post nightmare, possible therapy. Satisfied, for now, with his baseless assessment, Henry picked up his left leg and crossed it over his right knee and closed his eyes, exhausted, he stretched back on the bench, ready finally relax.
What now? Discomfort between his legs. Not a good sign! Something in Henry’s pocket intruded on the crowded quarters cradling a few of his favorite things. He uncrossed his legs and reached into his right pants pocket. Evidence solidly supplanted the delusion which vapidly vaporized. Sheena put this in my pocket last night. It was part of the dream. But if I’m holding it, looking at it fully awake, it’s not a dream. He reached into his back pocket to retrieve his floss-er. He read it aloud, “8D Pete Street.”
Henry stood resolute and bold. I’m goin’ back in!
One is the loneliest number but a very popular IQ.
Return to Pete Street
Henry tripped every traffic light on his determined trip back to Pete Street. He violated every statute erected to impede him but his reckless rampage did not speed him. At the meandering swamp short cut, the road was closed. The anxious traffic jam grumbled in concert as they watched several firemen dislodge a moose from a Ram Charger. The mangled moose, with head and horns still in tact, in better shape than the original Dodge hood ornament.
Henry became distracted from his purpose as his gaze fell on the sumptuous carcass’ proboscis. Do you suppose any of these fine, halted motorists have jelly? Any flavor would be kindly appreciated. As the stalled traffic began to u-turn past the spoiling repast, Henry’s fantastical thoughts of performing a quick rhinoplasty were nosed out by the his impending confrontation.
The clean-up continued and traffic was re-routed back to the main road, a route unfamiliar to Henry.
The heat of the day suited Henry’s inflamed mood and he left the windows open and the radio off to facilitate rumination. No more nice guy. No more manipulation. He was intent on changing his life. He would not be a fool. He would act boldly, bold no matter what threat emerged. Enough is enough. Bring it on!
The tenements, curiously, seemed to welcome Henry. Their cookie cutter arrangement, the stale succumbed to the sweet sunlight and allowed him to relax. His heart slowed. Now, he could boldly go where he had just left fearfully. Henry regained his alertness just in time to spot the overgrown post that carried the rusted address numeral and name – 8 Pete Street. He swallowed with difficulty and remembered to take his reflux pill before stepping down to the muddy parking lot – with resolve.
The wild impressions under his feet were the same but the shoes that tread them belonged to a different man. The same distance, same destination, and same disarray stood before him but the conditions were different. The floor apartment caused Henry no distractions, like before – nor did the others. Feeling strong, Henry marched up to the fourth porch and charged the final distance. He would boldly and act bravely to find out what Sheena did to him. His inner voice screamed boldness…but it was drowned out. He stopped and stood at attention. He was not hearing voices now, he heard voices.
He heard screams… They were doing something to Sheena!
He heard louder screams.
“Leave her alone” Henry spoke with boldness.
The screams sounded even louder now, but they weren’t really screams of terror. Still, someone was surely doing something to Sheena – stating the obvious. But who and what?
“Open the door! Sheena, are you alright?” Henry pleaded.
That last scream was much louder…and much different? But familiar.
Henry boldly stepped forward to…bang on the door? Knock it down if necessary. Before he made contact, the door disappeared and Henry saw an over-sized sub-human head, an undersized sleeveless shirt, and a pair of leg-sized biceps. Brawny Man? Looks like Brawny Man – the lumberjack, the two ply Georgia-Pacific paper towel mascot.
“What are you looking at” said Brawny Man.
“Nice shirt” said Henry. Suddenly petrified but more than curious. Henry craned his neck around the hulk, looking inside the apartment for evidence of Brawny Man’s signature red plaid flannel shirt, possibly hanging neatly over an axe handle or a mounted moose.
The big paper towel mascot lifted a huge-leg-like-fist menacingly.
Henry boldly closed his eyes and hollered, “Wait, stop!” In that instant, his mind raced with wild thoughts but they were not thoughts of death or dismemberment. They were inappropriate thoughts. No, let’s call them weird thoughts.
Henry recalled his disapproval of how the corporate lackeys had had PC’d Brawny Man’s image over the decades – for the worse, Henry noted. Brawny Man’s shamefully clean shaven face his curly locks now a coif, a soulless manikin now compared to the virile, mustachioed, needs a hair cut, porn star prototype of the ’70s. Henry, however, did concede his approval of Brawny Man’s return to the Virgil’s got his wifebeater on, looks like Helen’s gonna get taught a lesson tonight! undershirt. Chest hair poked above brief A-shirt collar layered beneath the flannel. This thought stream disconnected as Henry connected back to reality.
Instead of being punched out, a front jolt to Henry’s right shoulder put him into a spin. He peeked out of one eye to see that he was still vertical, and alone on the D porch – but not for long.
Ba-bam! Something rammed Henry in the the back and from the opposite side, twisting him completely around and causing him to fall through the doorway onto his face, inside apartment D. Fortunately, carpeting had been installed since he last visited – this morning.
From a prone position, he half raised his head. Just beyond his nose were ten toes, ten toenails painted FMR and two legs, two snowy white legs. Henry’s gaze slowly stepped up the snowy escarpment. His eyes stopped. His neck craned. His mouth smiled. This could have been base-camp but this was better. There it was…at the end of his nose. The fuzzy visage at the end of his nose was…the shirt! The XXXL shirt, Brawny Man’s signature red flannel shirt -and it wasn’t hanging off a moose’s nose.
“Sheena, why are you wearing that man’s shirt?” asked Henry.
The damsel peered down past her folded arms and flannel gown with a look that was new to Henry.
“You’re not Sheena” said Henry.
“Who’s Sheena, A-hole” chorused three different voices in a single volley, including the personage formerly known as Sheena.
“What are YOU doing here, Sheena?” asked Henry.
“What are you doing here, A-hole?” came another volley, this time more staggered, nerves tensing, vocals chords taut.
An identical vulgarity, in practiced unison…they gotta be family. “I…” began Henry.
“Shut-up” came an angry man’s voice.
I know, you A-hole.
“I know what you’re doing here.” said Angry Man.
It dawned on Henry that someone or something was mistaken and agitated Angry Man was not going to give Henry’s little dog brain enough time to figure it completely out.
“Look, you’re mistaken. I’m here by accident” explained Henry now sounding histrionic.
Angry man was getting angrier staring at the back of A-hole’s head and A-hole’s head was staring at the thighs of his estranged wife, who was glaring at the couple’s teenage daughter. A Mexican, er, white trash stand off seemed to be congeal as Henry calculated his poor odds of fleeing this unwashed mass.
“Oh, sure, it’s an accident,” began Angry Man sarcastically. “You were just collecting animal feces the parking lot for your tulip garden and tripped over a dead rat and stumbled into this fourth floor apartment and fell on top of my wife”.
“It wasn’t HIM dumb ass,” the young woman furthest from Henry cursed Angry Man.
“You mean that A-hole in the T-shirt that passed us on the steps?” asked Angry Man.
“You’re a genius, Sherlock” mocked Snowy White.
Hey, I’m Sherlock.
“You see, I’m not involved here. Listen to both of them. I’ll just go now” implored Henry.
Simultaneously, the family members rolled their eyes, each with a different take and smirk but with same vulgarity forming on their individual lips.
“Doesn’t matter” barked Angry man, “Nobody’s leaving today, by mistake, accident or grace”.
That’s an interesting way of putting it.
It dawned on Henry that he had literally fallen into a hostage situation. Although, he was figuratively in a world of shit, he remembered his fading vow to be bold. He watched the TV. Henry would become a hostage negotiator. He would negotiate his way out of this situation and, as an after thought, he might even save the lives of these two fine…a…ladies.
Henry turned on to his back, to face his captor. Woooah daddy. We’ve gone from a paper towel lumberjack to Deliverance. Stop it. Compose yourself. Think. Get him talking, keep him talking, until we can be rescued.
“That’s an impressive gun” said Henry.
“It’s a revolver” countered Angry Man, never taking his focus off of his wife.
“Of, course. It’s well maintained I can tell by the shine of the plating”.
“It’s never been out of the case before and won’t be returning,” sneered Angry Man, still focused, “I bought this piece for one reason, and this is it.”
This isn’t working. Try some other approach. Henry watched the TV and remembered the History Channel’s programs on the JFK assassination. Jack Ruby used a similar revolver to take out Oswald.
“You know Ruby…” started Henry.
“What about my wife” snapped Angry Man, breaking his focus, now leaning in toward Henry.
Angry Man’s wife intervened, “Stop it. I never saw this A-Hole in my life until just this minute”.
Satisfied that his cheating wife’s veracity would suffice, Henry stupidly continued, “Ruby…”.
“Ruby is her whore name,” screamed Angry Man.
“What name do you go by? Pimp?” the younger woman interrupted.
“Shut up, you slut” screamed Angry Man.
“Don’t call your daughter a slut” retorted Ruby.
So much for family. Henry, addressed Angry Man, meekly, “So what is your wife’s given name”. Keep negotiating and gain some time until I can figure out how to escape this band of brothel.
“Ruby May” Angry Man almost choked as he softly said his wife’s name.
The sudden quiet in the room was punctuated by the resonant sobs of the daughter, now sorry she led her father to her mother’s affair. This unwashed procession with their unshaven surfaces and un-waxed epidermises succumbed to panicked pores, letting perspiration pour forth. Enough. Let’s get it over with.
“Alright, ” said Angry Man, “Four. There are four bullets in this revolver. One for Ruby May. One for Jesse Pearl…”
These parents should be shot on principle.
Angry Man finished, “…and One for me”.
Henry was confused. “Who’s the other one for?”
Epiphany at Pete Street swamp
Return to Avatar Bar
Return Home to an empty pool