A Trip Around The Yard
Alan was feeling a little bit guilty about violating his son‘s trust. He respected Ian’s right to privacy but his suspicions were so deep he felt he had to infringe. He didn’t want his son smoking that evil devils weed or worse. As a devout Jesuit he was responsible to raise his son to be a follower of The Society of Christ and if he found Ian straying he could use that to send his son into a Jesuit school, maybe even go to Loyola someday. His wife Sadie was catholic and had opted not to upset the forbidden apple cart by converting and as long as Ian was swathed in the blanket of Jesus they could compromise. The compromise was a typical agreement between husband and wife in the 50‘s, Sadie agreed not to cut Alan off forcing Alan to agree to just about anything. In truth that was the single bone of contention between them, Sadie insisted on Ian remaining a “Good catholic” and not a Jesuit so Alan gave in “for now“. That was the one and only time she aired dissidence.
All Alan needed to convince her being a Jesuit would be in Ian’s best interests was to catch him in a sin. He was relatively certain his son was smoking pot and he wanted to find some evidence of wrongdoing that would give him the upper hand and release the vaginal wrench Sadie clenched on his desires. Alan was the man of the house and as such he should in theory have final say in major decisions, but in practice he opted for bedroom bliss over being boss on this one. He looked over his shoulder nervously and began opening the desk drawer as silently as possible. After rifling through the entire desk he was disappointed to not find any evidence but relieved his son seemed to be keeping his head on his shoulders. He wasn’t thinking about anything in particular when he placed the life saver in his mouth, it was more of a reflex. He had no way of knowing he had just unwittingly ingested a tasty tab of Orange Sunshine LSD. In fact it would be almost an hour until he even began to feel any effect, much too long of a time lapse to connect the two together even if he had suspected something. The rest of the covert search also turned up nothing so he left his son’s room and went to his secret haven, his escape room to relax before mowing the lawn. He locked the door behind him and sat down in his lounge chair at his sacred sanctuary.
It had always seemed funny to Ian that his Dad spent so much money on a Cadillac but turned the room meant to keep that expensive car into a fortress of escape with no room for the car. A small fridge filled with beers, a lounger, a small TV and radio all surrounded by his tools. But that’s where you could find Alan whenever the stresses of suburban life got to him. He called it his palace. Alan needed to relax because he always stressed out at the thought of performing his most despised suburban chore. Lawn maintenance. People here in Hamilton New Jersey were judged harshly by the state of their lawns. A well kept lawn was the ultimate status in town and would make the homeowner a well respected man about town, but an unkempt lawn was a ticket to the lowest rung of suburban development and a surefire way to have yourself snubbed and ostracized.
But the yard had to be manicured and Alan dutifully mowed and trimmed his sacred acre of green pride with an unusual joviality which at times made him actually laugh to no one in particular. When Alan finished his dreaded chore he smiled having found it mildly amusing and uncharacteristically pleasant. When he performed the finishing touch of edging it was oddly funny for some reason. He had also done some very deep thinking while tackling this normally mundane chore and surprised himself having come up with some new concepts and theories about life. His life to be exact. He put away his lawnmower and edger and then sat back in his recliner to close his eyes and consider the implications of his newly gained perspective. Besides it was a hot one out there today and he was tired so a cold beer and a short nap would fit his bill. As he laid back and relaxed a sense of serenity settled across his body and mind. Alan was meditating without even realizing. After fifteen minutes his cheek muscles began to move involuntarily forcing a rather large smile onto his face. His eyes were closed yet bustling with activity as they entered the rapid eye movement state even though he was far away from sleeping. He found himself inexplicably listening closely to all the sounds around him, the leaves gently tickling the ground a they danced acros the cement floor, the wings of some kind of bug flapping melodically, a cricket scratching a tune on its hind legs. Sounds that were always around but never noticed, at least not is such a grand way. Alan was smiling and humming and the visions in his minds eye were churning up childhood memories. Cartoon characters. He saw Popeye and Olive Oyl, Mighty Mouse, Huckleberry Hound, Top Cat, and many more cherished cartoon characters all involved in some bizarre collective cartoon specifically portrayed for his entertainment. As if he had taken hallucinogens before he rolled with it not for a second letting the images upset or confuse him. He was smiling a huge involuntary smile and he knew it. He felt it! He felt the muscles of his cheeks pulling upwards pressing up against his eye sockets, the corners of his mouth contract inwardly, and his jaw line stretch halfway around his head. He chuckled to himself understanding he was rising to a new conscientiousness.
For quite a while Alan merely sat back and enjoyed his trip as he contemplated his life and what it was all about. His smile began to desert him as he realized what a rut he’d found himself in. “What the hell am I doing? The same thing day in and day out, go to work, come home, have dinner, watch TV, and go to bed. What am I doing this all for?” He continued feeling morose and sorry for himself for living what others had convinced themselves was “The American Dream”. But what the hell kind of dream is this drudgery of existence? Why was he just going through the motions, why wasn’t he an international spy, or an astronaut or something exciting? Anything more exciting than a carbon copy of every other shit middle class robot in town. His mood was taking a dangerous turn from comedy to tragedy in mere seconds.
Alan clasped his head between his hands attempting to squeeze the bad thoughts from his mind. Bugs seemed to be buzzing around e3verywhere but one bug in particular was just outside his ear and singing a song to him. Not a song he recognized, more nonsense singing in a weird bug voice like “eyy ya ya dadada dadeedadee, dadada…..get outta my ear!” Wait, was the bug trying to tell him some profound truth? Could this be where he finds true meaning? Alan contemplated intensely what message this omen bug was showing him when he laughed out loud, “Get out of my ear? Hahaha, did some bug just fly in my ear and say get out of my ear?” He laughed some more, not startled or confused but back in a state of control, of understanding, as though tripping on LSD was his true calling and not some foreign experience impossible to understand. He opened his eyes and continued talking to himself, “Holy shit, I feel so strange. I’m not sure what in the Hell is going on but I think I like it. I feel like I‘m in some bizarre 3D movie or one of those optical illusion pictures” The bug continued to sing the same song over and over in his ear and much to his delight he was neither concerned nor puzzled, he was comfortable with it. Suddenly startled Alan thought he saw movement from the corner of his eye as he jumped up from his chair.
“Is someone here? Come on now I know someone else is here, I can hear you and I know you’re in here. Who is it?” Alan was still chuckling lightly but beginning to feel uneasy. The bug stopped singing and in a much deeper and human voice it said to him, “Its me Alan, Franco. You remember me don‘t you? Saint Francis from the days back at the room. I sure as hell remember you, all of you. You guys all laughed and called me Franco. Then you did those things to me, those horrible things. I can still feel the pain.” Alan sat back down now suddenly frightened and uncertain of what was happening. An old buried memory he was unaware of was being stirred up and settling in his head. He was remembering, the room, the lights, the loud noises, and….and “Franco? This can’t be, it wasn’t real. But maybe it was. Oh my God, I remember now Franco. They told us no one would get hurt, we never meant to”….. A knock on the door sent a shiver of paranoia erasing the memory and replacing it with profound worry. “Dad? Its me, Ian. Can I come in? I think we nee to talk.”