Camping, Pizza, (Real) Smurfs, a Flea Market, and Danger.

(Dreamt on 2/14/06)

The step down from the large SUV was a great one. As many health problems that both of my parents deal with it seems an odd choice for a vehicle. Complaints and groans rumble out with swollen ankles and barley used running shoes hitting the ground. The slamming of the door sounds insulated and sturdy. My ears hear chirpping birds, different songs in the woods versus the city, rather than ZZ Top’s Greatest Hits. Dad thumps his fist and moves his head to the blues beat. Mom looks out the window or sleeps or warns him of upcoming stoplights.

We’ve arrived at a camping supply store. The wood siding and “olde” look remind me of the Woodwright’s Shop, except for the propane tanks stacked three high and vinyl signs for PowerBars.

Dad walks towards the enterance while my mother and I stand next to each other silently. He picks up a propane tank, hobbles it back to the SUV, opens the back, and places it on top of the pile of camping supplies.

“Sam, you should pay for that before you stick it in the truck.” Mom placed a fist on her hip to show the seriousness of her statement.

“They might think you’re stealing it,” I added.

He ignored all words of warning. Were his hearing aides turned off? Was he stealing it? As I watched him, I noticed excited motion from inside the store. A small black girl was gesturing wildly. She could’ve been screaming. I don’t know. The door remained closed.

“You should respect her more, dad.”

“Who?”

I pointed to the girl throwing a fit. “You have no respect for people that work in retail.” I summed this opinion from his present rudeness and history of poor tipping.

“I’m glad I don’t have her job.”

“What are you talking about? You work at Lowe’s. You work in retail as well.” He saw my point and removed the tank, placing it on the ground with a mild thud. I looked inside the truck and saw my bike. I jerked and pulled until it was free from catching on the pile of outdoor comforts. I rode in circles, warming up for a long ride through the woods.

“I’m gonna head out,” I said as I donned my helmet.

“I think we’re gonna order some pizzas for the little girl in there and us. I feel bad. We’ll give her a ride home and see you later.” They started for the store and I rode to the campsite.

A friend and his girlfriend were waiting for me. I told them the story, embellishing parts to get my point across. THE NERVE OF MY FATHER!

Night came.

Morning came.

They had brought their cats. I didn’t notice them the night before, but I sure as hell saw them now. Two bodies, one tabby and one mancoon, lying on their sides completely relaxed without heads. The open, screaming mouths and lifeless gigantic eyes wet the dirt a few inches away with blood and other life-liquids.

“I didn’t know smurfs were in this part of the country.” He didn’t seem the least bit upset.

“Smurfs?” I responded while staring at the bodies, not the heads. The bodies were peaceful. Still asleep. Even when the flesh rots away those heads will still be screaming.

“Yeah. They’re little creatures that prey on mammals slightly larger than them, like cats. We’re safe because we’re too big.”

“They don’t eat them?”

“No. They somehow get all their nutrients from beheading. They leave the carcasses behind for their friends, scavengers called opossums.”

“I’ve heard of opossums. I didn’t know they had friends, though.”

He laughs.

My view changes to a fast-fowarded, underground tunnel. It opens up to a large, woody temple. The walls are fingered with the roots of trees and candles that rest in the eye sockets of cat skulls. A gathering of a thousand or more “smurfs” were splayed on the floor, dark earth and damp clay, listening to their leader. He was clad in nothing but fur and a headress harking back to a failed 30’s movie about King Tut. His language and his stare told me one thing: I knew that I was to become one of them. A one foot tall furry savage with no visible teeth and poison whiskers. Ears always cocked back, eyes firey with death.

After realizing this, everything disappeared. When my vision came back I was standing in the middle of a flea market in Indianapolis, Indiana. My hands held a songbook for Piano/Guitar/Voice entitled “Popular Songs With Jesus Added, Vol.9”. The whole collection, volumes 1-8 and 10-16, sat on a rickety shelf in front of me. I tried to figure out how, with no money, I would buy the entire collection. Love songs for Jesus. Fight songs for Jesus. Drunk Songs for Jesus. For some reason, I needed it.

A nurse that I knew long ago showed up. She was always sprightly and actually interested in what you said. She had been looking at homemade jewelry. “Really swell pieces” was how she described it. She had no money, either. My dad walked up.

“Dad, this is _______.”

“Hi, _______. I’m Sam.”

“Are we still going to Aunt Sarah’s?”

“Yeah. Let’s go.” Dad took the leadership role for the first time that I can remember.

The city council in Indianapolis decided to put in a rail system and my aunt’s house was on the list to be demolished. They were having a last hurrah, as if the place had housed many memorable moments besides eating, complaining, and falling asleep to holiday football games.

The roof had already been removed but no one seemed to mind. Spirits were high. The soda flowed like wine at a Roman orgy. Cousin Kate was there from Japan. Cousin Laura’s ex-husband got a pass from prison to be there. My sister and her husband refused to come. Mom was there and so were distant relatives. The great aunt that cheats at board games. The second cousin that enjoys hunting and getting girls teen pregnant. The grandmother that is convinced I am nine years old and the grandfather (Papa) that gets angry at open-faced sandwiches. I am holding a shoebox with the body of a cat and the head wrapped in tissue.

I wander away and find a room, solitary except for the absent roof. A performance for the passengers of airplanes and blimps. Since they are tearing down the house, I decide that it would be best to bury the cat underneath the floorboards. The thundering train overhead can’t wake a cat head that is eternally screaming.

The shoebox makes a “Fffffa” sound as I remove the lid. The screaming head, now silent and staring, had re-attatched to the body. In the vertical slits of it’s pupils I saw my destiny. I was to be a smurf.

I jumped backwards as it lept out. Each charge I evaded with side-stepping. I saw my mom standing in the doorway. She looked at me with eyes I’d never seen before.

“You knew that this would happen.”

“I know, mom, but can’t you help me?”

“There’s nothing I can do, sweetie.” She looked over her shoulder and laughed at something happening at the family party as she closed the door.

I dripped down the wall onto my ass and offered my neck to the smurf-cat.

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