Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Halloween Story

Yesterday, I rode my bike to the neighborhood mailbox. I rode over the bridge, past Hulk Hogan's new house, across North Bay Shore Drive, and dropped my letter in. On the way back I was stopped by the Sunset Island security guard. He was wearing a uniform with the company logo Securitas (Latin, of course, for security) on it. The word Securitas made the guard, in my mind, seem a somewhat more respectable figure; still unspectacular. Something like a Praetorian Guard to the wealthy and isolated Miami Beach Brahmans, but not nearly that. Anyways, I digress.

The guards name was Dwayne. Dwayne is a moderately handsome black male. He has a faint accent, somewhere in there is the lingering trade winds of the Caribbean Islands, but his English is mostly impeccable. Mostly, only because of the long pauses he takes before answering questions. When I was bicycling back on to my Island home he seemed in the mood to chat. Normally, I have very little contact with these security guards (Throughout the 1990's they were uniformed under the company Kent Security). A month or two ago I did bring one of them a slice of pizza, that was Marco. He is Haitian, also very pleasant like Dwayne (who is not Haitian).

Dwayne and I started to chat a little, stopped in between by the cars he had to open the gate for. Occasionally, the conversation also paused, as I had to swat away sand flies who were viciously biting me as we spoke. I guess Dwayne is used to them, he didn't seem to mind the swarms circling around our knees. All part of the job.

A black Bentley pulled up. Dwayne, who usually recognizes everyone by their last name and car, had to talk to the gentleman in the very expensive automobile for a moment. The man in the car was young, playing music loudly, wearing sunglasses at dusk. Dwayne asked who he was visiting, I didn't really listen to the conversation. The man sped off, mostly indifferent to his surroundings.

Dwayne, asked me if I had a sister. I said no. "Oh, wait" said Dwayne. "Yeah, someone who visits you Eric, someone with long black hair?" No, I replied. "Hmm, you're from Africa right?" asked Dwayne. What?! Me, African? Dwayne: "Yeah man, like South Africa or something?" Not quite, I said. So basically everything Dwayne asked me was completely inaccurate. My previous confidence in him, as built up by his remarkable ability to remember the names of all the visitors to the neighborhood, was absolutely shattered. I told him a little bit about myself. I explained that I was looking for a job before starting any graduate school I have applied for. He thought I should take a job at the public library, probably the South Shore Branch, it's close by. "They pay eleven dollars an hour, Eric." Not bad, I thought, but probably a little boring. Dwayne told me that one day he'd like to live on Sunset Island. "That's the dream, Eric." He told me a little bit more about himself, his Aunt works at the same hospital as my mom. His brother goes to FSU, Dwayne is planning to start night school again, and that his wife is in the Army. He told me that if she gets pregnant she is excused from active duty for 12 months. This was a project he was planning to work on.

I rode back home and called it a day.

This morning, October 31st, I looked for a job on Lincoln Road. I refilled my propane tank for my gas grill at Chevron, and helped my mom set up a few Halloween decorations. During the set up, I noticed that the house next door, normally shuttered-up was now free of shutters over the windows. In addition, next door was the Bentley Dwayne and I saw yesterday. At the time I wondered how such a young man could afford this car. My mom, after lighting a candle in the shape of a number "7" underneath a ceramic pumpkin, told me the owner of the car was renting the house with another man. "You know what that means."

I went to work-out this evening with my Dad, and his Bulgarian trainer at the Flamingo Park gym. I arrived home at around 7:45 pm, my mom took the first shift of handing out candy, and just as I arrived home she left for work. All that was left was a handful of Blow-Pop style Lolly's and a new bag filled with raisins. My mom was reluctant to hand these out, for obvious Halloween related youth-palate-gastronomic reasons. I tried starting up my grill to cook a steak, I was very hungry. It didn't work. I must be doing something wrong. I went inside to fry the steak, covered it with pepper, I thought this would be a good idea.

No one rang the door-bell. I guess most of the kids had already stopped by while my mom was still here. I took a shower, but as I came out I noticed some kids chatting outside. I peered through the window in my front door. I overheard a few things they said. "Yo, come on, hurry up." That didn't alarm me. Then, a child's squeaky voice, "I don't want to go to jail." some more young voices off in the distance, I didn't really see any of their faces. It occurred to me they were probably going to egg my new neighbor's expensive car, not my Honda of course!

I went back to my room, organized some papers on my desk, and then took a look through my window. Oh no! My car was covered in toilet paper! Furious, and filled with rage, (Rage, Goddess, sing to me the rage of Eric!) I, still wet from the shower, put on some shorts, ran to kitchen and grabbed two eggs out the refrigerator. I was going to teach these little bastards a lesson. Dripping wet, half-naked, I ran down the street, shouting at another family if they had seen who threw toilet paper on my car. They didn't seem to understand my question. Then, as I planned to run further down the dark street that same family started to walk to my door. I had to turn back to fulfill my role as the candy-giver-outer. They were in front of me as I walked back to my house. I passed them, it now occurred to me how ridiculous I looked, holding two eggs, no shirt, and galloping to my front-door before they could ring the bell. The children's mother stood in the street bellowing at a car in the distance to slow down. The kids grabbed the last of the Blow-pops. When asked if they knew who "tricked" my car they replied that they thought it was decoration for the house. That was certainly an unexpected answer.

As I was handing the candy to them, one of the eggs dropped out of my hand, and cracked, clear albumen and yellow yolk spread between my toes, under my sandal, and on the floor near the front door. All I had accomplished now was egging my own house, the vandals were far away at this point. At this point, to my surprise, my anger had been quieted. I think it was the puzzlement in the children's eyes. There was some innocence there. Who was this man, half-clothed, running around outside his house looking to throw eggs at people? Who am I, what have I become? I said Happy Halloween, and slunk back to my bathroom to wipe off the egg, and to wash off the mess in the living room where it had broken. I promptly put the other egg back in the refrigerator.

How could I have thought of THROWING an egg at PEOPLE? What the hell was wrong with me? After I cleaned up, I walked outside to get a closer look at my car. It was fine, just a little toilet paper (clean) that took about two seconds to take off. On top of that, it was double-ply Angel Soft. I was struck by how thoughtful the kids were who did this. There was so little of it on my car it was almost pathetic, it felt like my heart was breaking. The feeling of seeing a sick kitten, or driving by one's old elementary school after so many years, crept into my mind. What thoughtful kids, to think they were scared they might go to jail for this? God, what innocence. I was suddenly happy for them. To think to say the word jail, not prison. To think that they would be caught at all. Innocent mischief. I was in awe that they would fear being punished for something like this. It was too quaint.

I sit here writing this with one thought in mind. It is a quote from an assignment Ms. Borona gave to my ninth grade English class. This is a response that was written by Rachel Neuhut that I have saved in the inside cover of the book for almost nine years.

"Phoebe asks Holden what he wants to do in his life. He claims that he'd like to be the "catcher in the rye." There is a poem which makes him picture innocent children playing in a field. He wants to stand there watching them all day. Then he can catch them as they fall over the edge of the cliff. Holden seems to want to take care of anyone who is still innocent and hasn't learned the reality of the world Holden considers phony. He is afraid the poor ducks in Central Park may not know to fly south for the winter and may be frozen in the lake. His old friend Jane is vulnerable to the world, but sincere. Holden cares for her dearly and wants to save her before she can enter a world of sex maniacs like Stradlater and "phony" adults. Phoebe is Holden's beloved sister whom he also wishes to save from a world of "fuck you" signs and malicious people. Jane, the ducks, and Phoebe are like the children in the field. Holden wants to save them before they fall over the cliff, and land in reality."

Next year I'll leave their toilet paper on my car overnight.


Rich said...

i can't believe you buried something so nice underneath a long chess babe post! maybe re-date this for tomorrow?

Tom said...

Yeah, I also like how Eric's fealty to the November 1st CBOTM deadline was so great that he burried his own post. (She doesn't even have an ELO rating!)

Also, I think you mean the NUMERAL "7"

The ACTUAL God said...

Beautiful reading response.

Mulatto Jesus said...

A couple of eggs to the dome couldn't have hurt.


next year you take the first shift from your mom and nail the first trick-or-treater in the face with an egg. And also her parents, because the little kids go trick or treating before it even gets dark.