It's harvest time in Ontario. There's a fat moon in the south.
Mexicans are stripping the fields bare, and the woosiest trees have already turned orange. Like last spring the farmhouses are once again surrounded by flat seas of dirt instead of undulating rows of something green or gold.
Dumb robots churn the soil, straddling twenty rows at once with Tonka-yellow legs. In their cabins sit bored white boys listening to compact discs, cracking the window to let out the stale smoke from their DuMauriers to mix with the funk of freshly torn vegetables.
Morning comes coldly with distant crackles and pops. Something is in season, and dies.
I have a fly swatter. I am Vishnu, today a destroyer. I carve a hole through their cloud. Fuckers!
There is a long standing feud between me and Fannia cannicularis and Muscina stabulans. They gang up on me. They try to treat the inside of our old schoolhouse the same as the outside, which I admit is somewhat our fault since we don't make use of screening on our windows. Even the rain isn't sure what counts as out-of-doors and what doesn't, which why we often have bowls of swill here and there. Throughout the summer many animals small and smaller wander through (butterflies, moths, crickets, grasshoppers, ants, mosquitos, bats), but it's just the stinking flies that get my goat.
Grasshoppers and ants are courteous, compared to flies.
Flies I kill. It is my morning exercise. From long practise I am becoming a swatting ninja. It is my great joy to make contact with my quarry in mid-air, like the world's smallest home run. I clear the kitchen before breakfast, because hearing buzzing while I eat makes me feel squalid and African.
I think that this fun must be akin to the fun people have when they play videogames -- wandering around dispensing death, taking pride in efficiency, razing each zone clean like a machine designed for the purpose.
I am sometimes angrier with the flies than is appropriate. They flitter around my face and I want to cause discouragement to their entire race. My weapon flips in my fingers like Billy the Kid's pistol.
"You killine dem?" asks my daughter.
The seal on the garbage can broke. The flies got in. When I tried to change the bag inside the flipped up edges launched a flotilla of fat maggots back at me. I jumped back. The can fell over, the bag sagging inside. Its sides writhed, slick with life. "I smell maggots," reported my daughter. "Dey cute."
"They are not cute," I replied darkly, flicking the wiggling rice off my arms with a grimace of revulsion. I put on gardening gloves and launched the garbage can out the side door, then blasted the maggots into paste with the hose.
The dogs ambled over to eat the remains, which turned my stomach. So I sprayed them with the hose until they fucked off.
Vishnu's work is never being done.
I am not a doctor, but even I know that toddlers aren't supposed to have a vibrate mode. So when my daughter started vibrating -- muscle tremours shuddering through her body from top to bottom at five o'clock in the morning -- my wife and I became concerned.
The first bout was accompanied by a sudden spike of fever, which isn't unheard of, but the second bout at six thirty came as her temperature dropped. "I dizzy! Hold me tight!" she cried, limbs quivering uncontrollably.
Right. So we got dressed and went to the ER. They didn't think it sounded cool either, so we only had to wait an hour before being checked into Acute Care. We were slowly serviced by a cavalcade of professionals in differently coloured pajamas, like people from Star Trek. Everybody was sweet to my kid. When they found out my daughter had not eaten breakfast they brought her a choice of Cheerios, soda crackers and two orange popsicles.
The toddler chose the popsicles.
Her blood was drawn immediately afterward which, predictably enough, showed near-Diabetic levels of freshly ingested sugar -- necessitating drawing further ampules of blood from a toddler whose parents had just assured her in no uncertain terms that the "needle part" was over.
She was a brave girl. She clutched onto my shoulders and pursed her lips with determination while I held her over the gaping maw of a big girl pottie so she could piss all over my wife's hands. A little bit got in the sample bottle, too.
Elevated white cell count. Unknown source of infection. Aggressive fevers coming and going, dizziness recurring, minor rigours...
"My neck is hot," reported my daughter.
"Maybe she has Strep Throat," wondered a nurse. "Is she allergic to any antibiotics?"
Littlestar spent nine hours at the hospital. I spent five. The fever did not return that night, and further symptoms of Strep failed to materialize. She appeared to be developing a minor cold, but continued to have a strong appetite and giggle all the time. So the antibiotics remain in the refrigerator.
Our friend Jolly Le has flown home. His baby is dying, hooked up like a Borg inside of a transparent plastic cage. Jolly Le has only held the child three times since it was born, and then his wife took the three-day-old infant to Jamaica to attend a funeral. The baby sickened there, and is now too fragile to risk a trip back to within the reach of First World medical technology.
I press my ear to my wife's growing belly, intent to hear the slosh of our newest friend's feist. "Stay alive," I whisper. "Everybody in my family has to stay alive, you understand? If you break the rules you're kicked out."
Baby2 knocks at the uterine wall in response, a brief but decisive tattoo. I can hear it. I can't feel it yet, but Littlestar can. I hope that it means, "As clear as an unmuddied lake, Papa."
Poor Jolly Le. He had just gotten his head around being a father and now maybe he won't be.
Poor Jolly Le's Baby -- more machine than man now.
And poor Jolly Le's Wife, who has to live with having made the choice to go.
My father-in-law Old Oak and I went to the pet store. He wanted to buy fish to put in the pond he's haxx0red into the yard for my daughter. We were having trouble getting the assistance of any of the kids in blue polo shirts who briskly moved into and out of various doors marked EMPLOYEES ONLY and muttered a mantra about being "with" people in a "moment."
Time passed. I peered into the cricket box and then watched a pile of juvenile hamsters crawl over one another, paws in faces, noses in bums.
I looked up to see the human equivalent: a family of zealous reproductive abilities proven was milling along the wall of fish-tanks, the offspring pushing and falling over another like the hamsters.
Some of them had pinched little hamster faces, too.
They knocked on the tanks and yelled at the fish. The boys stuck their arms inside and tried to grab the fish. "Don't push your sister, eh?" chastised their mother, an elephantine specimen decked out in tent-size pseudo-sportwear. "Don't be pushing her -- Jesus!"
The children did not acknowledge their mother. They were too busy trying to hook exotic goldfish with their fingers. I caught site of their father, who was bent double in a mystifying attitude of auto-fellatio. "These focking pants," I heard him comment as he shuffled by, a caboose.
The pet store also had a bright green bird that could talk, but all it could say was "hello" and "you're lovely."
Old Oak misunderstood the way the fish were priced, but the net effect was positive because after he had paid he was pretty sure he'd come out ahead and that the store had cheated itself.
I smiled and nodded, thankful he had not miscounted and other way and thus felt threatened by cheaters. He would have snarled angrily at the teenager taking his money, but paid whatever the till reported in order to play the nickel martyr. I would've wanted to fall through the floor out of shame. A good time would've been had by all.
Sweet but fragile delusions of rationality, for every beast that walks or crawls.
A Tour In The Family Automobile
My wife is pregnant. For breakfast she picked up drive-through eggs and bacon and hash browns and juice. It was a delicious treat.
My wife is pregnant. When we set off for the city at noon we picked up drive-through fried chicken with extra skin, Dixie coleslaw and poutine. I spilled gravy on my grey-green pants, but this was no large tragedy as I had been calling them "my mustard pants" for hours in reference to an earlier mishap.
My daughter goes visiting at Nana's house. Nana takes Little Miss Popsicle to her class on Tuesday mornings, where kids sit in a circle, sing songs, and get to pet exotic animals (this week: Tiger Salamander, Chinchilla, Firebellied Toad). She sleeps over in the city, which means my wife and I get an evening alone.
My wife is pregnant. On our way back out of the city we pick-up drive-through Chinese food: pork slices, spicy chicken, noodles, rice, rolls with plump sauce. I push aside the other two drive-through bags in order to make room for the Chinese food between my legs. I shift uncomfortably. My shorts are squishy.
My wife is pregnant. On the speeding nighttime highway she touched my bits while I nuzzled her exposed breast and she moaned.
Hormones, hormones, hormones.
My father-in-law Old Oak couldn't find his nail gun. He looked everywhere, including his messy workshop.
Days later, on an unrelated mission, he found his nail gun in his messy workshop.
How is this possible?
Old Oak's explanation: my wife and I stole his nail gun when he wasn't looking in order to accomplish some mysterious construction project involving large quantities of nails in our spare time. Since we do not own our own air compressor and since Old Oak's compressor did not go missing, he must logically conclude that we contacted Littlestar's cousin G. up in North Bay and arranged to borrow his compressor on the sly. As our nefarious work on our imaginary project proceeded we caught wind that Old Oak was seeking his nail gun, and then attempted to surreptitiously replace it in his messy workshop in order to escape blame.
...Actually, I guess it's pretty obvious when you think about it.
My question is this: what the fuck did we build? I hope it's cool. I wonder where it is.
Big Bad Wolf
In my dreams I am an Indian brave who sneaks up behind Money and cuts its throat. I drink from the wound as it dies. I come up stained, but without having to look over my shoulder for the predator now fallen.
The Doctor Dances
The child loves music. She says, "Papa, take my little hand and dance wis me." She grabs my paws and looks up at me earnestly. We circle around the living room swaying in time to Johann Sebastian Bach or Benny Goodman or Raffi. Sometimes she jigs or shimmies, and sometimes she just pushes her face into my hip.
"You like dancing wis me, Papa?"
"I sure do."
"I also sure do."
The sound of a chorus inspires her the celebrate by smacking a tambourine and shaking her bum. She waves her arms around in rhythm with the rising strains, dashes down her head on the crescendos. I've forgotten how to dance many times, and my daughter is the only reminder I've ever had that didn't involve alcohol. It is a delicious thing.
"Where music goine?" she asks. "What notes sayine now?" she wants to know. "Take my little hand!"
Posted by Cheeseburger Brown at 23:29