Thursday, April 15, 2010

Every Word is True (Part IV)

by Pa Rock
Rattled Home Owner

Rock’s Roost is my little farm in the Ozarks. It is currently unoccupied and overgrown, but several years ago that pine-shaded patch of nirvana rocked with the vitality and exuberance of a group of critters that would have made Ellie Mae Clampett collard green with envy. Having never lived on a farm before, I had been anxious to soak up the complete sensory experience, from the odd sights and raucous sounds to the unique and often pungent smells.

It was, in fact, the auditory and olfactory memories of life at Rock’s Roost back in the Ozarks that attacked my consciousness as soon as I stepped in the back door of my Arizona trailer last winter. The squeals and grunts were unmistakable, and there is nothing in the world that smells quite like pigs. I carefully set the bag of groceries down on the cabinet, took a couple of deep breaths, and headed off into the living room. It was going to be one of those evenings!

I should have been shocked by the sight that greeted me inside of my own house, but the older I get, the harder it becomes to even feign shock. I’ve seen most of it before, and what I haven’t seen, I’ve read about or stumbled across on the Internet – but never anything like this. (Okay, I was somewhat shocked!)

The winter sun was sinking and the interior of the trailer was cast in dusky shadows with the only light coming from the television. Sprawled across the couch still in his quasi-military garb, was the old hippie that I had seen doing a handstand on the wall that surrounds the Wheezin’ Geezer Trailer Park. He was totally engrossed in an episode of Absolutely Fabulous, the one where Eddy and Patsy show up drunk at Eddy’s father’s graveside service and keep falling into open graves. The hippie had a bath towel spread across his lap, my personal bath towel, with a baby pig lying on the towel drinking what appeared to be milk from a baby bottle. He was rubbing the piglet’s back as it nursed the bottle.

As I scanned the darkened room trying to come up with an appropriate ice-breaker to introduce myself to the vagrant on my couch, I spotted a second piglet. The one was snoozing quite peacefully in the armchair on another bath towel, my second favorite towel!

“Pigs?” I stammered.

“Javelinas.” My unwelcome guest replied, never taking his eyes off of the television.

Oh great, I thought. Wild pigs! Mama javelina was probably racing around my trailer right at that moment building up the speed that she would need to charge through the wall and come in for the kill. Why did I suspect that she would go for me first?

(Okay, I know that javelinas aren't true pigs, but they're close enough to qualify as far as I'm concerned.)

“Er, uh, can I get you something, Mr….?”

The hippie holding the javelina piglet glanced at me briefly as if he suddenly realized that I was there, rolled his eyes, and then yelled toward the back of the trailer, “Hey, Zero. Get your butt in here and beer me!”

Somebody else was enjoying my unintentional hospitality. A light suddenly shone in the hall as the bedroom door opened. It was a guest bedroom, the one where I keep my computer. I saw his shadow approaching along the wall before the Goth kid in the trench coat actually stepped into the living room. He completely ignored me and responded to the hippie. “Sorry, Jules. I was checking my email. They’ve moved Mom to a halfway house.”

“Let me know when they move her to a cemetery and then we’ll have a real party.” Jules reached down to the floor and retrieved his empty which he threw directly at Zero’s head. Goth Boy surprised me, and probably Jules as well, by deftly catching it in one hand. Armed with the empty, he stepped around me without acknowledging my presence and walked into the kitchen. The old hippie licked his pig-stroking hand and resumed the piggy massage, all the while watching the other party at the cemetery on television.

Feeling completely ignored, I stepped between Jules and the television in order to turn on the floor lamp in the corner of the room. As the light illuminated the room, my unwelcome guest seemed to hiss softly. It was a hiss that sounded vaguely familiar.

“Where is my cat?” He ignored me and continued to feed and rub his javelina while watching Eddy and Patsy wreck a funeral. “I said, where is my cat?” This time I was more forceful. I was tired of being ignored in my own home.

“Cat ain’t yours.” He continued to be engrossed in Ab Fab.

“Okay,” I slowly acknowledged his acknowledgment of me. “Where is your cat then?”

“Cats don’t belong to anybody. Read your Twain.” He licked his palm again and resumed the rubbing ritual.

Goth Boy came back in carrying an ice chest. He sat it on the middle of the coffee table, took off the lid, and pulled out a beer which he opened and handed to Jules. “Zero, you’re the man!” Jules was termporarily brought out of his near-hypnotic state by the ice-cold alcoholic beverage. The poster boy for depression took a second beer from the chest, popped the top, and handed it to me. Before I could sputter out a ‘thank you,’ he was gathering up the neglected piglet from the armchair and placing it on his shoulder much like one might hold a contented infant that needed burping.

It was at that moment that the automatic front porch light came on, and Zero and I both saw her at the same time. The bag lady who walks the imaginary pit bull had her face pressed against the window just above Jules’ head, staring in at the gathering. When Jules saw our expressions he jerked his head around and almost came nose-to-nose with Crazy Woman. This time he did hiss, loudly! As she turned to flee, Jules stood, snatched Zero’s piglet away from him, and charged out of the door in hot pursuit with a javelina piglet in each hand.

“What just happened?” I asked, somewhat dazed, as the door slammed shut.

Zero ignored me (I was getting used to being ignored!) and began picking up the living room. He took the towels to the washing machine, dumped Jules’ open beer in the kitchen sink and rinsed out the baby bottle. When he had finished those chores, he came back and gathered up the ice chest. As Zero headed toward the front door, I placed myself squarely in front of him. “I can’t let some kid go walking out of my house with an ice chest full of beer.”

“It’s my beer.”

“That doesn’t make any difference.” He was holding the ice-chest by its sides. I reached out and placed my hands on its top and bottom, preparing to grapple. “It will be safe with me. If your reprobate buddy wants it, he can come and take it – but you’re underage and I’m not going to get kicked out of the park for corrupting a minor.”

“I’m sixty-one-years-old,” he said, matter-of-factly.

“Bullshit.”

“It’s true. “

“Who’s Ricky Ricardo?” I challenged.

“Desi Arnaz,” he snapped back. “Who’s Ethel Mertz?”

Got me – but I tried a bluff: “Fred’s wife.”

“Vivian Vance.”

“Okay. You know your Nick at Nite. But you’re still not sixty-years-old.

“Sixty-one. I turned sixty on Easter Sunday, 2008.”

I found myself involuntarily letting go of the ice chest. Zero seized the opportunity and fled the scene.

I stood in stunned silence for several minutes contemplating the sudden tilt of the universe - and the fact that I, too, had turned sixty on Easter Sunday of 2008! I was still wrapping my head around the rapidly expanding weirdness when Scroungy Bastard made his nonchalant entrance through the doggy door and hopped up to his regular spot on the couch – as if being gone for several weeks was the most natural thing in the world. He curled up for his evening siesta, and just before dozing off, that damned cat looked directly at me and rolled his eyes!

It took just a few minutes for me to get things turned off and the doors locked – though why I still bothered with locks was beyond me. Then, taking my cue from Scroungy Bastard, or whoever he was, I somehow made it to the back bedroom where I curled up on my bed, closed my eyes, and tried to get to sleep by counting javelinas!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

The butler did it!

Reed said...

You know I'm only 23, but with my lack of hair I look a little older. Maybe the opposite can be true.

Cousin Bill said...

Damn!! I LOVE this story! More, pa rock, more!

Brenda Kilby said...

I sincerely hope this was fiction.