Dreams and Idols
Flying! Barely above the walnutree tops he was soaring above the Earth. After the flapping, groaning, straining to gain
the high-blown air, now, windswept, his arms outstretched--he was gliding easily. Panting from the takeoff and struggling
for altitude, but flying! His heart was beating like a dynamo; everything else silent--
below: shingled-roof, trees, driveway, lawn, bushes, patio, flowers--lay like a giant jigsaw puzzle upon a gently curving table.
Gazing down upon the pieces of the pattern, he was gliding, flying--riding a breeze high over the crest of the roof. A long way
down! He kept flapping to stay aloft. Airborne! Soaring. He looked down for his shadow. None? Whoa! Head up. Yeah! Gliding.
The lawn grass was cool and green below--bright green to yellow brightening. The lawn melded into a patchwork of yards and pools
and trees. The valley stretched in all directions from mountains to hillocks. The great blue sea spread beyond...
Click. A young female voice broke into the morning with song. A vision of luminous yellow flashing to white illumined the
window glass, the light blurry but almost blinding. Lengthening rays of sunlight like centrifugal pulses from a great generator.
The vision fluttered under his blinking eyes, vacillated between high and low key. Then the pulses slowed to match the rhythm
of the song. And the window came into focus.
Shelves around the window framed books, plastic models, compact disks, bongo drums, tambourine, harmonica, and a pair
of ceramic jungle dancers. A poster on the wall showed the U. S. presidents' faces and captioned summaries of their lives. Plastic
airplane models hung as if firing down from the ceiling. On the wallpaper cowboys on horses galloped through bands of morning light.
Drawings of fantastic faces and landscapes adorned the walls. On the floor lay an old rug woven with filigrees of grapevines. Desk and
shelves beneath the luminescent window ever brighter: TV, stereo, computer, lamp, clock radio--7:00 AM.
Still in bed Sonny Dennison lay cool and languid under a sheet that peaked like a pyramid in soft folds over his loins. His seagreen
eyes reflected the window light. He lay inert till the song finished.
"Popcycle, boys 'n' girls--" a male radiovoice broke into the melody and pattered rapidly at a high pitch to the last note of the song.
"A platinum Southland wake-up for all you babesindreamland--September leaves you hangin' twixt the books of science class and
study hall. Yesoyowza! Time again to rack those sunburnt brains--and to help you on your way, here's--"
After another musical introduction a voice began singing like a strong man flexing his muscles. Sonny whipped the sheet off
and jumped out of bed. His undershorts still stretching in front of his boyman body, lean and tan, he yawned and stumbled into
a bathroom across a small hallway.
He turned on the shower and stood still in the steaming stream like a penitent at prayer. The running water drowned out the
music. He looked at his slackening penis and watched the water trickle off the end, fall to the tiled floor, and spiral down the drain.
Clockwise. Why? Earth-wise? True time passing? He hurried through the rest of his libations and stepped out of the shower. He
stared at his pubescent face in the mirror. On the wall beside the mirror hung a picture of a young male movie star. While combing
his hair, the boy glanced at the picture, their faces simultaneously reflected in the glass.
He heard water start running into the kitchen sink. And from there a canary began singing in a long warbling, lilting trill. Unable
to get his hair right, the boy looked at the actor's picture and frowned. He combed harder and faster, whipping the strands till wisps
of hair hung suspended in space, electrified.
"Son-ny!" a woman's sweet voice called from the kitchen.
He quickly whipped his unruly hair two or three more times and said, "Coming, Grana."
In turning, he glanced out the window and spied a boy and girl strolling along the street in front of his house. They were holding
hands. Her auburn hair hung long down her back. The boy looked coarse and dirty. But she was radiant and...
"Now, hurry up, Sonny! Come and eat your breakfast," the voice called again from the kitchen, "before it gets cold. Hurry. You
don't want to be late to school on your first day back."
An old man's deep voice chimed in: "And turn off that damned radio!" He added with quiet force. "'Nough to wake the god damned
dead." Sonny pulled away from the window with a last, lingering look at the sexy girl and her boyfriend, as they disappeared
beyond an ivy-covered fence between the street and his yard. He ran into his room and grabbed some clothes. After slipping into
tan cotton slacks and white short-sleeved shirt, he cinched his pants with a brown belt and stepped into chocolate suede shoes. After
punching off the radio, he scooted into the kitchen.
At a plastic table with chrome legs sat Grandfather Rinehart, an elderly man with a thick tuft of silvery hair and eyes like frozen
water. His tanned muscular arms protruding from a white cotton shirt were working at his breakfast. He was absorbed in smearing
sour cream onto a thin, crisp pancake. Sonny watched the knife in the old man's hand as it lightly scraped the toasty, webbed
surface. His hair gleamed in sunlight shining through windows on adjacent sides of the table. Grandmother Rinehart, a
cherubic little woman with dark wispy hair was standing at the stove in a flowered housedress protected by an apron. She
turned another sizzling pancake onto a warm plate and handed it to Sonny.
Bopster, a golden canary in a cage suspended on a stand near the table, was singing like a suitor serenading his lover. Outside
the kitchen a mockingbird in a walnutree joined the song with a similar version combined with sparrow chirps and crow calls.
Dimples forming beneath his red cheekbones, Grandfather looked up through his gold-rim glasses and beamed at the yellow bird in
the cage. Grandmother cackled gleefully, her ample bosom and belly bouncing. Sonny secreted his amusement into spreading
butter and strawberry jam onto his pancake.
"That ol' mocker knows a good tune when he hears one," grandfather said as he sprinkled sugar onto his pancake. Then smiling
from one cheek to the other, he glanced impishly over his spectacles at the boy.
Sonny looked at him and
tried to contain himself, but an errant smile broke through his guard. The old man victoriously cut a long wedge of pancake, rolled
it over once, twice, and shoved it into his mouth.
"Candy!" he said through a great grin.
Grandmother, still enjoying the bird duet, looked at her husband a moment with the hint of a smile, then poured coffee into
his cup. A little steam rose from the brew and disappeared into the sunlight above the table. The boy squinted at the sun and gobbled
slice after slice of pancake. She laid another one in front of him and poured his milk. He buried his lips in white bubbles and slugged
the cold liquid. After draining the glass he sighed with pleasure and gobbled another wedge of pancake.
When grandfather finished eating he stirred sugar into his coffee in smooth circles, the spoon making light bell sounds against
the sides of the cup. At the same time he lifted his chin and eyed Sonny through the magnifiers in his glasses, looking closely around
the boy's ears. He clucked like an old rooster and shook his head, "You could've gotten the barber to trim it a little closer on the sides.
Still looks ragged."
Sonny shot a look at him but said nothing while shoving food into his mouth.
"Don't want you lookin' like a bum."
The boy wolfed his meal.
Grandmother sat down and started eating at the boy's ferocious pace. Then she stopped to catch her breath. "Oh, fer heavensake
don't eat so fast, Sonny. You'll make us both sick."
He paid no attention to her.
But the old man shook his head and clucked again as he sipped his coffee. To avoid him the boy once more looked up at the glaring
sunlight illumining the curtains and he squinted. He felt the heat on his face.
"Gonna be hot today," he said. Then under his breath he added, "Wish I's at the beach."
Grandfather continued to
scrutinize him. After gorging another glass of milk, Sonny jumped from the table. His knee knocked the top and bumped the dishes
up and down, rattling and clattering. Grandmother held the table steady and clucked like an old hen.
Grandfather raised his hands as if in a blessing and cried, "God Almighty!"
"Sorry," the boy said as he hurried out of the kitchen.
"Like a young bull in a china closet," grandmother muttered. And she shared with her husband a critical look that said: "What
an impossible child!" Continuing her own breakfast, she covered another pancake with copious butter and syrup and dropped
artificial sweetener into her coffee.
Grandfather glowered at her, but she mocked his look. Then, tisking and shaking his head as usual, he picked up a newspaper.
Following one more patronizing look, he snapped it open and dived into it.
In his bathroom Sonny checked and rechecked his hair. Then a horn sounded from the street. "Here's my ride!" he shouted
as he glanced out the window.
"Got yer lunch?" grandmother hollered.
"Yeah--bye." He dashed into the short hallway to a door that led into the garage. Jerking it open and bounding through, he
slammed it on his grandparent's farewell.
The old man winced and started to shout at the boy, but his wife stopped him with a look, and he returned to his paper. A moment
later his cold blue eyes glanced over his glasses at her, and he asked, "His mother call?"
"Not yet." She pitched into the remains of her breakfast.
He shook his head with more sadness than disdain and dropped his face once more into his reading. "I don't know what
in hell is the matter with that woman."
She shook her head too but continued drinking her coffee.
"Now she's got another man," he said, "I hope she ain't thinking she's gonna all of a sudden make a family for the boy."
"She is his mother after all, father," the old woman said through a last large mouthful. "And she's your daughter."
"Well, I wish she'd act like a mother for a change." He shook the paper, and it crackled like a small brush fire. "Damned shame,!"
he grumbled behind the pages. "God-damned shame."
Grandmother nodded sadly and chewed.
He went on. "She insisted on marrying Nick when she was barely out of high school, gets herself pregnant with the boy--then
they break up and Sonny is cast off like old clothes. God-damned shame--that's what it is. No way to make a family. Well, she better
not get any ideas about takin' him back just 'cause she's gettin' herself another husband. I'll be god-damned if I let that happen to
the boy. Gone through enough misery in his life. Only fifteen. Damned, damned shame!"
Grandmother Rinehart nodded, licked her fork, and sipped her coffee with slow slurps. Grandfather looked at her,
shook his head, and returned to his morning reading. Oblivious to the drama at the table, Bopster kept on singing a duet with
Contact Jack Forge at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2006 John Stephen Rohde (Jack Forge).
Jack Forge is a pen name used by John Stephen Rohde since 1998.