The sky was bluer then, when we were kids, and everything seemed bigger, like anything was possible. We flew like the birds on our bikes down the dusty lanes of town, hooting and hollering like wild-boys on the full moon. We met our friends at the mall and hung out at Klingman’s Taste Supreme and would swing on the tire swing in the playground til the sun began to sink.
Small town life made idealistic by the years. The rougher memories smoothed over like river rocks worn by the water. The reality was that Dad would be three whiskey and cokes into dinner and Mom would be just as deep into the wine bottle, while warbling off key in the kitchen, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary then. Charmed life? Perhaps it was. It certainly appears that way, looking back from where we stand now. Life seemed so innocent, then, unmarred by trauma and the constant barrage of hatred. If there was any, it wasn’t obvious. Now you can’t escape it.
Today, the afternoon is already heavy with humidity, and most of those working at 1313 Bluebird Lane are sweating buckets and gasping for air. Summer has never been kind in the South and this one was already proving to be straight out of Dante’s Inferno. No wonder people are losing their minds.
In the Caprice that just pulled up in front of the tidy white home with green trim are two officers of the law; both single, handsome and career driven. What they are about to experience is a situation they have never seen before. One wonders how each will react, in the face of such heinous destruction. If we watch long enough, we may see.
A flicker of movement in the shadows against the north side of the home. There, a woman in baby pink crouches, a low growl emanating from her throat like some feral animal, Not a twitch of movement betrays the stony exterior. She could pass for 35 but is at least 15 years older. There are officers ringed around her, most with a bewildered frown on their lips, and their dogs straining at their leashes and barking to beat the devil.
Her face is an alabaster portrayal of human, carved in flesh rather than marble and speckled with an extra layer of freckles that aren’t her own. Nor are the streaks and spots of blood that cover her hair, hands and clothing. Something is very wrong here.
The woman in a neon blue blouse begins screaming and tearing at her hair, which is dyed a hideous shade of blonde. “Lonny? Lonny!! You what have you done? Lonny you answer me!” but her pleas fall on deaf ears. The eager officers that arrived moments ago are dragging the screamer back from the tape, and her heels are dragging on the asphalt. Comedic, if not for the circumstances.
The woman blinks, her fingers jittering at her throat as the growl becomes increasingly loud and more vicious, unheard above the racket of the dogs. A child has crept close to the bewildered boys in blue, clutching a ragged teddybear with his thumb in his mouth. He frowns, too, and pulls his thumb from his mouth with an audible pop that jolts the adults into reality.
“Lonny? Why are you sad? Do you want my teddy? He always helps me when I’m sad. Here, take him. Mr. Slam likes you,” the boy says softly, and steps forward with his teddy in his outstretched hand.
“Son, no, don’t do that. Lonny…? Lonny isn’t feeling really well and she wouldn’t want you to get sick or hurt,” one of the Troopers blurts but the boy has already reached the woman and is placing the bear in her lap. The woman blinks again, her fingers ending their mid air dance and she sighs, long and deep.
“Lonny? I hope you’ll feel better soon. I miss playing ball with you.” With that, the boy kisses the top of her shaking head and turns away, stuffing his thumb back into his mouth and sauntering across the lush green lawn to the house on the corner. Amazed, the men look to one another and then back town at the woman, who is sobbing into the teddybear like an abandoned toddler.