Consensually Kidnapped: A Fiction

I was in the garden when he came for me. I was admiring an heirloom tomato that had a particularly brick-red hue. I daydreamt of crushing it into a pizza sauce. So deeply entranced was I that I hadn’t even heard him approach the edges of my visual field. This isn’t really too surprising. Although I’ve been trained to remain aware of my surroundings, I was in my garden; my safe place. Combine my lack of attentiveness with the facts that I am easily hypnotized by plants and he rarely makes any noises other than faint steamy hisses and those nearly mechanical sounding whizzes and pops when he moves, and it is practically a miracle I noticed him standing in my periphery at all. But I did notice him and, miracle or dark magic, it changed my life in dark and miraculous ways.
“You have been making comments.” He said it in a voice devoid of intonation, in keeping with his way. At the time I didn’t know that I knew he was capable of more. “The comments you’ve made are intolerable.”
I stared at him, smiling, not quite comprehending his intrusion. My garden, physically, is no safer than any other unfortified patch of land. There is a small fence around it, ineffective even in its advertised objective of keeping out small rodents. Beyond that it is completely open to weather, wind, falling branches, a hail of bullets or even an intruder on foot. So it wasn’t his invasion of my garden that confused me. My garden is a safe place for my mind. I can dig and prune and plant and harvest and focus on those activities predominantly. The general everyday cares, which my mind magnifies so supremely that I have been known to vomit over a day-late credit card payment, are stifled when I am in my garden. They plunge to my subconscious where they splash down into last night’s bad dreams and fall prey to the true horrors that live there.
And there this man stood, introducing anxiety into my safe place. There was no reason I could see, other than a stranger in my yard making odd comments about comments I’d made, to be anxious. He was barely five feet two inches tall and while he wasn’t emaciated, he could in no way be construed as stout. I could’ve bowled him over if I’d wanted. Dispatched him swiftly and turned him into compost. Actually I’m not sure he’d compost well. I wasn’t even entirely sure he was biological in nature.
I stared at him, silently thinking these strange thoughts as he grew impatient. A version of impatient anyway. It seemed to fluster him that I hadn’t responded to his statements and so, with a pop at his shoulder and a hiss at his elbow, he smeared his mouth across his face and repeated himself. The same two sentences pronounced in the same toneless voice, maddeningly devoid of any inflection.
Shortly he added a third sentence. “You will come with me.” I couldn’t tell if it was a command or a question. As I’ve said, he doesn’t inflect. He turned and walked away. Surprisingly, I stepped over the knee-high fence and followed him. As we passed through the gate and into the front yard, he stopped suddenly and sighed. He mumbled something I didn’t catch and his neck leaned over so far that his ear nearly rested on his left shoulder. I waited, expecting his head to lift as soon as he’d stretched out whatever crick or Charlie-horse he’d experienced, but he simply sighed again and began to walk. He moved slowly and by the time he’d reached the car parked in front of my house, his knees had nearly given out on him several times and his head had bounced so sharply and so much that I was certain he must now be suffering a horrendous headache.
We climbed into the backseat, he first and I following. As we settled into our seats, he performed a series of shoulder shrugs that eventually straightened his neck. His head fell back against the headrest. He opened his mouth and a series of clicks and whizzes uttered forth. His throat did not move during this maneuver, but soon his eyes popped open and I saw his Adam’s Apple bob as he said, “You’ve been making comments.”
The air began to haze and the haze moved about as if the car were full of cigar smokers who’d just cracked the windows. He turned his head towards me and the image of his smeared mouth seared itself onto my eyes as the sun came up over the dashboard. I heard, and felt, a mild whump and was unaware of anything else until he shook me awake to harass me about my comments some more.


Indicting Squirrel Boy: Evidence That My Son is A Woodland Creature

I mentioned in a recent post that my son is basically a hairless squirrel. I’d like to present some evidence to support this.

A couple of weeks ago we were outside playing in what was left of a recent snow. It was bitterly cold and I told my son to come inside before his fingers fell off.

Exhibit A: My son acted as if he doesn’t speak English.

He began to dance in the snow and chitter. I stated more loudly, “Time to go inside!” My son ran to the other side of the yard and disappeared between some evergreen shrubs that grow along our fence.

Exhibit B: My son startles at loud noises and disappears into foliage.

I began walking toward my son stealthily. As I approached I heard him scream “What!?” He burst out of the trees and ran to us screaming, “There’s a Christmas tree in there!” I said, “Those have been growing there since we moved in. They aren’t Christmas trees. Go inside!” My son again ran into the shrubs.

Exhibit C: My son has no grasp of logic. Specifically, he doesn’t seem to recognize me as an authority figure concerned with his safety.

When my son again emerged, he was indeed dragging an artificial Christmas tree behind him, stand and all. He placed it in the middle of the flower bed and stated, “This is MY Christmas tree. Finders keepers, losers leapers.” I explained to him that it is actually finders keepers, losers weepers, and despite his now knowing the proper phrase he should never use it because it seems to be a mean-spirited phrase designed to deny losers the right to reclaim their lost property.

Exhibit D: My son was extremely excited to own a tree. When his mom arrived to pick him up he implored her to let him take it to her house. When she said it wouldn’t fit in the car, he pulled off the top portion of the tree and begged to take that. He would be happy to own just half a tree.

We brought the tree inside and placed it in his room. When he came home from his mom’s he decorated it with underwear and scraps of paper.

Exhibit E: My son has a tree as a permanent fixture in his living space. It holds his clothes and creations. It could be called his home.

The prosecution rests.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…allow your children their eccentricities. So long as they aren’t dangerous of course.

A don’t…let them carry it too far. They are still human children despite their feral tendencies.

A Spider, A Bag of Oranges, Two Strange Kids; Fighting Nature With Nature and The Birth of A Champion for Mother Earth: A Super Hero Origin Story

My son hurt nature. My daughter said so.

We had an unseasonably warm afternoon a few days ago and let the kids out to burn off some “winter wiggles” while they had the chance. My wife and I watched from the window as we cleaned the kitchen and prepared lunch. After a while, the kids moved past the portion of yard we could see from the window (our yard is fairly large and fully fenced. Also, our Mastiff stays close to them and could easily pin a grown man. As long as we can hear them, we don’t worry too much about their safety, but we do poke our heads out the back door every few minutes if we aren’t out with them for some reason. Rest assured, they are not neglected or ignored.) and we suddenly heard the seven year old girl scream “YOU’RE HURTING NAAAAAAAATUUUUUUUUURRRE!”

As she was screaming she was running toward the house. We met her at the back door and, red-faced and out of breath she reiterated “Brother hurt nature!”

After we finished giggling and trying not to look like we were laughing at a little girl, we got the full story. My son, who is five, had somehow come into possession of a bag of oranges. I didn’t know we owned a bag of oranges. My son is basically a hairless squirrel so it is likely the oranges had been under his bed or in his closet long enough that I’d forgotten we’d even bought any.

He used said bag of oranges to beat a small spider to death. It is highly likely the spider came out of the bag of oranges. Still, if you ask me he was simply fighting nature with nature. However you define it, his dispatching of the potential threat with a potential food source severely traumatized his sister. She is a tree hugger. I used to think she was only literally a tree hugger. She wanders around the yard by herself, dancing, singing, talking to invisible entities and hugging trees. She actually wraps her arms around them and squeezes them. I now know that she is also figuratively a hugger of trees. She’ll grow up to delight in cleaning the ocean, sweeping rocks and searching knot holes in trees for fairies. She’s basically a fairy herself. Freckles across the nose and she’s lucky if she weighs 15 pounds.

Look out nature hurters. There’s a new super hero in town.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…encourage your children whatever their interests. Unless they take their bag of oranges after innocent creatures that couldn’t hurt anybody anyway.

A don’t…Step on their sensibilities. They are who they are. Guide them, teach them, let their true selves develop.

Re-purposed Costumes and Child Prodigies: A Proud Father Horrified

A couple of quick insights before we get into the meat of this post:

  1. Halloween costumes are cheaply made (the ones we buy are, anyway) and might as well be re-purposed.
  2. I am aware of the dangers of trampoline ownership and usage. We monitor the kids closely when they use it and have had no trampoline related injuries in the 2 years we’ve had it. Well, no injuries to the kids, anyway. I’ve pulled several muscles moving that ridiculous thing out of the way so I can mow under it. Oh, and also the blood blister from trying to stretch those extremely stiff springs during setup.
  3. Bicycles the size of the ones my 7 year old daughter and 5 year old son use are not equipped with kick stands. I take this to mean that the manufacturers do not expect that children that young will need the training wheels removed. What it likely means is that they’ve already spent money installing training wheels and don’t want to spend more on manufacturing and installing a kick stand.
  4. I choose to believe that my son, despite the bicycle manufacturers implied assumption, is a bike riding prodigy. I choose to believe he will be the bike riding equivalent of Beethoven and/or Mozart.

With all that said, let me explain the intent of this post. My son can ride a bike. He enjoys riding his bike to an extent that horrifies me because, the more confident he gets, the more risks he takes.

Before he learned how to turn, his risk was to get as close as possible to the trampoline before stopping. As his turning skills improved he decided he simply MUST try to ride around the lotus pond.

This caused me much consternation. I didn’t want to discourage him, however, I especially didn’t want him to fall into the stagnant, odiferous muck that inhabits the pond now that all the blossoms and leaves have fallen into the water. This stuff is very nearly alive and I rue the windy and overcast day that it finally burps up some strange, dripping, glob-like life form.

Side-note: I refuse to clean out the lotus pond in the fall because not only will the lotus grow up and hide it in the spring, but he muck makes a wonderful addition to mulch and I want it to get as mucky as possible before I scoop some out in the early spring to schlop onto the garden.

As soon as I saw him headed toward the pond, I took off running. He rides with his knees out to the side and I don’t know how to describe the sight, but he pumps his legs so fast that the sight of those knees bobbing out on the sides of his bike is very comical. So I laughed as I ran. Just as I caught up to him he executed a perfect turn mere inches from the edge of the pond.

When he stopped his bike by intentionally running into my theoretically evergreen tree I lectured him on the dangers of what he had just done, implied there would be consequences if he did it again and sent him off to ride a different route.

He was proud of his turn, though, and kept bringing it up. “Hey Daddy, did you see, I, I, did you see me I turned and didn’t splash?!”

Apparently this gave him confidence and, feeling that he had mastered the challenges of turning before riding into a pond, he decided it was time to tempt fate another way.

When he disappeared into the house, I figured he had to go to the bathroom. Instead he came back out in his Halloween costume and decided it would be fun to horrify the dogs and his sisters as he rode after them helter-skelter, cackling and crashing into obstacles he couldn’t see through the inadequate eye holes of the Halloween mask.

Here’s the moral of all this: There may be many ways to repurpose a Halloween mask. Bike helmet is not an acceptable option, even though it has the potential to be hilarious.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…allow you children a few eccentricities. They are good learning opportunities for you as well as them. While sometimes scary, they can also be hilarious.

A don’t…feel guilty if you monitor them closely when they have their “good ideas”. In most cases, they are envisioning positive outcomes that only exist in the realm of the miraculous.


A Day in the Yard or When Work Isn’t Work; Cherish it While You Can

I have three children. Of the three I have two accomplished bike riders and one aspiring. Strangely, my oldest at 9 and my youngest at 5 are the accomplished. My 7 year old is still aspiring. She’s a bit of a free spirit, though, and nothing holds her attention for very long. She’s getting very close to taking the training wheels off for good.

There’s no rush, I suppose. I know adults who never learned to ride a bike.

Anyway, the other day there was no school and the weather was perfect and after breakfast we went outside and I watched them ride bikes for about two hours. When their legs finally began to get tired and they drifted to other activities I got the wheel-barrow and rake and started loading up needles and leaves.

We moved into this house two summers ago and I thought I had an evergreen in the back yard. Apparently either I don’t or it’s very sick because last fall and again this fall, the needles have browned and fallen just like the leaves on our sometimes-greens. This tree drops so many needles that it covers the ground beneath it so thickly that it feels like walking on a shag carpet. Maybe the tree is an evergreen, and it’s simply a nostalgic sort of tree, pining away for the ’70’s.  A ha ha ha.


As I was raking and loading and trudging and dumping the loads of leaves and needles on my garden spot the kids began to follow me. They took my rake and began raking their own piles. They took my wheel-barrow and began carting loads themselves. They asked for rides and I gave them, at first in the empty barrow back to the trees and later (after my son was hit by a bolt of inspiration) in the leaf laden barrow en route to the garden spot.

Needless to say, by about 11:00 we were a bit hungry. I had worked up a sweat and I couldn’t think of anything better than sitting down in the cool kitchen for lunch. My oldest daughter insisted on a picnic. The electric company recently cut down a tree in our yard that threatened their lines. I asked them to leave the wood and they left slabs perfect for stools and a nice short, wide one that makes a fine table. As I performed one last task and maneuvered these into place, the kids ran inside to find their old Easter baskets.

We loaded the baskets with sandwiches, chips, “juice” pouches and dog biscuits.

I sat on a rough chunk of tree surrounded by kids and dogs and had the best grilled cheese sandwich and cup of coffee it has ever been my privilege to consume.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…let your kids help you work. I hear it won’t be long before they realize it isn’t fun. It is, actually, but only when you’re very young or getting old.

A don’t…blame your trees for pining for the ’70’s. The air was much cleaner back then. No wonder my evergreen wants to hold its breath for the winter.


Orion: A Constellation; A Memory Made; A Celestial Wonder With a Message for a Defective Man

When I woke up this morning it was still dark. I got the coffee going and woke up my kids. I stepped out the back door with my son with the dual intentions of feeding the dog and figuring out whether or not today was a short or long pants day (short pants were fine) and noticed that Orion was visible right over my garage.

I called for my daughters and, when they had stepped out and shut the back door (it was nearly dawn and the light from the laundry room was enough to blind us to the stars) I pointed out his belt and the four stars that insinuate his feet and hands. They couldn’t see it in its entirety. My middle child only saw his belt. I think they might have been having trouble connecting such unreachable dots. Either way, though, I was proud. It felt good to share something like that with them. I stood there staring at Orion long after they’d lost interest and I suddenly remembered that the North Star is part of one of the constellations. But which one? I simply cannot remember. Is it the bright star at the bottom of Orion that denotes his left foot? Or is it part of the Big Dipper?

Thinking about this took me back to basic training and all the times during our land navigation courses that I disappointed my Drill Sergeants (not to mention my Battle Buddies who trudged through the woods behind me in the exact wrong direction) to the point of nearly giving up on me. They never actually quit trying to teach me, but they were certainly frustrated that, hundreds of push-ups later, I still couldn’t sufficiently navigate my way out of an MRE bag when given a map, a compass and a block of instruction.

Then I thought about all the times in my civilian life when, trying to back-track some road-trip route, I swore up and down that I needed to go left when I actually should’ve gone right.  I don’t tend to give in to the fact that I’ve taken wrong turns, and, though suspicions are sneaking up on me, I continue making wrong turns until the web of wrong turns is so convoluted that I can’t even reverse the wrong turn route to get back to the first wrong turn I took. I’ve ended up turning around in so many private drives with no trespassing signs posted that I’m surprised my back bumper isn’t riddled with bird shot. I’m also surprised my wife has never actually thrown up all over the car. She gets car sick, especially when a twisty-turny route is combined with the stress of knowing she’s lost with an idiot who won’t admit he’s lost. She’s a real trooper. Thank God she didn’t know me in my Army days when my poor direction finding could’ve landed our necks under the blade of some radical’s machete. (They never gave me the map in a combat zone, by the way. I made it perfectly clear that doing so would mean certain death.)

As I thought about all these things this morning, staring up at the sky with my children chirping at the periphery of my hearing that we needed to go inside and eat breakfast, I realized I’m a defective man. I don’t have whatever it is they say men have that help them find directions. I don’t have a genetic compass, and for a moment I felt cheated. I mentally shook my fist at Orion for bringing on this realization.

We finally went inside to get ready for school and as my daughters ate granola bars and my son dumped peanuts from the jar to a bowl and back again for some reason, I realized, no matter what I may be missing in my own genes, I have my children. I have my wife. We have a house and food, jobs, cars, our vision and hearing and health. We have hope for the future and a contented complacency in the present.

I may be a defective man, I realized, but I’m perfectly OK with that. Thank you, Orion. Thank you for speaking to me simply by sitting in the morning sky. I mentally unshake my fist at you, you big celestial dude, you.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…step outside in the dark now and then and let the stars speak to you. You never know what they might say.

A don’t…forget what you do have when you’re bummed out by what you don’t have. What you do have is probably pretty great. You might just need to take a few quiet minutes to realize it.

A Few Unconventional Ideas for the Home; I Bet They Won’t Work

I posted previously about the large pecan tree in my back yard. This tree is close enough to my house to cause some concern on windy days and my wife and I have spent many an afternoon watching the kids play and discussing how much of the house we would lose should the tree topple in the right direction. My dire prediction is that we would lose most of the house. She disagrees, but I think she might be in denial. The tree is huge, the house small. I think she’d compromise and agree that we could lose perhaps 40%. I don’t have a huge problem with it since the majority of our loss would be the kitchen (which I nearly burned down making Halloween decorations. I owe my family a new countertop and some flooring.) and the laundry room. These could stand to be rebuilt and the likelihood of anyone being in these rooms during a massive windstorm is fairly low.

These facts are of no comfort to my wife, however. She prefers that none of our house be demolished by trees. Perhaps she is the sane one. Perhaps…

With her in mind, though, I have begun to design in my head a novel defense. Solar powered roof top wood chippers. Actually, make them wind powered. That way they run without the need to turn them on with very little notice and they won’t be causing a cacophonous crescendo simply because it’s daytime. And trees could fall at night. I’m convinced. Wind is the way to go.

There’s a lot more science to be considered, positioning, weight, strength of roof, attachments, how to get them up there, maintenance, legality of such a device, etc., but I feel the underlying idea is sound.

Again, my wife disagrees, but keep in mind she is also not a fan of my plan to develop miniature smart missile batteries to shoot down stray drones that wander into the restricted airspace around my house. The local airport might not respect the fact that I’ve deemed the air above my property a no fly zone, but at least I could keep some kids’ toy with a streaming hd camera attached from looking through my windows.

Now if only I could convince the woman I love that it is ok to fire tiny warheads within the city limits…and do the science of developing said warheads…and procure the materials…and have nothing to do but sit and wait for someone to fly a drone into my yard which has never, to my knowledge, happened.

Again, perhaps she is the sane one…

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu… think me nuts if you must, but consider this; If my house is destroyed through no fault of my own it is not insane to appreciate the opportunity to rebuild.

A don’t…contact any watchdog organizations. I have no plans to develop tiny warheads. I’m simply a guy with an imagination. I just happen to enjoy imagining mini mushroom clouds and tiny heat seeking missiles zooming around. I’m also not a scientist and couldn’t make this a reality even if I actually wanted to. Also, I’m broke. No worries.