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Location: marengo, il, United States

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

SCHOOL RESUMES

David launches into his first day back at Timber Elementary by bringing his pocket knife along. He had concealed the Swiss-styled knife deep inside one of the pockets of his school backpack. But as soon as he enters class he marches boldly up to Miss Pluck where he voluntarily surrenders the thing.

“I forgot I had it,” Is his only excuse.

So begins David’s sixth year in Hoohooville’s public educational system.

This morning at 7:10 his mother walks him and his new haircut three blocks to the bus stop. Then as he and the other children clamber onto the bus, he pauses part-way up the steps where he turns to wave. Shortly after that both parents go to their respective jobs. Each parent half-expects to hear a report from school of some catastrophic event before the day ends.

But Bon Adventure’s phone stays silent and never rings once.

Some time after two in the afternoon David steps through the back door, still wearing the knapsack and his smile. Both pack and smile appear to be un-torn. He slam-slides the screen door shut before turning around to announce to dad that he is home. Bon Adventure greets him right off, and then asks him to sit down and tell him about his day.

“It was great, dad. I knew a lot of the kids from last year. That one girl that makes all the weird faces at me? She is there too. She hates me, I think. The teacher is really nice. I like her a lot. Her name is Miss Pluck and she‘s very pretty. I think she likes me too. We did lots of fun stuff today. I can’t wait to go back tomorrow.”

After hearing all of the details, the father relaxes. The eleven-year-old then slips away to complete his assigned chores. But the story of the knife goes untold.

In any case a vacuum cleaner soon begins roaring across the living room carpet as David bosses the blustery contraption into submission. Next he tackles the can-crusher that lives a simple life attached to a wall out in the garage. He hurriedly feeds the hungry beast a dozen or more empty aluminum soda cans. Each can gives a single metallic shriek as David yanks down on the handle of the masher.

That all done, David goes to his room where he takes Deja Vue from among a nest of cedar chips. The caged hamster greets the boy by sniffing the air first, and then stares at his master with two little bright eyes. After coaxing the pet from its cage, the two friends, one cupped in the hands of the other, head out the front door.

The storm door slams shut. The interior of the house becomes tranquil. Bon Adventure heads for the bathroom before going to the backyard to pull weeds.

A butterfly net is seen traveling past the bathroom window, being carted around outside like a flag in a parade. It tells the neighborhood that David is once more on the prowl. He and the hamster follow a winding but invisible path that eventually leads to the back yard. Bon Adventure has just found a seat in the shade as the pair approach.

“Hi, dad. Deja Vue wants to join you. Is that okay?”

“Why of course it is. And how about you?”

David plops down on the other side of a pile of weeds near his father where he lets the hamster go free. The creature takes a few small steps before it pauses. He raises up his tiny head high into the air and sniffs the air a few times.

“He’s taking a breather. Look, dad.”

The pet begins burrowing into the matted weeds while David watches over him. He strokes its long hair several times with one finger.

“He really likes it out here. And I think he likes your weeds too.”

“I think you’re right on both counts.”

The odors that drift from the piles of up-rooted vines mingle with sweet clover and fresh dirt. The animal noses part-way inside the heap before backing out to change directions.

Within moments the hamster scampers across the top and finds his way over to the crook of Bon Adventure’s knee. Everything Deja Vue comes close to gets investigated before he moves on to sniff the next curious thing.

“I’ll be right back, dad. Will you keep an eye on him?”

He returns carrying half a loaf of French bread. Bon Adventure declines to eat by showing David his dirty hands.

The child sits still while he picks at the loaf. He hollows out a section, and then holds it up to examine.

“I think he’d like this for his house, don’t you? Hey, where did he go, dad?”

“He was just tickling my feet a minute ago son, but he’s gone now. You better find that mouse before he goes down that hole over there.”

Near the junction where the den attaches to the rear of the house an opening leads underground to a drainage hose for the sump pump. The furry little traveler almost reaches the mouth of the tunnel. David runs to scoop him up and bring him back to the mountainous pile of weeds.

“You’re not supposed to go down there, Deja Vue. You have to stay here with us, you know. Dad said so, and so do I.”

He holds the pet up close to his face, chiding the hamster tenderly before loosing him to explore again.

Bon Adventure sits upright and leans back. His back pops once.

“I’m almost ready to go back in now. How about you two?”

“Deja Vue says he wants to stay longer.”

Bon Adventure readjusts his legs before continuing to search for more of the intertwined vines.

“Wow! I see a dragonfly, dad! Look up there quick!”

“Un-huh.”

“Dad, look!”

“I saw it.”

The choking weeds grow all too well in the moist loam. They remind him of a thousand guitar strings strung every-which-way by some deranged musician. An earthworm writhes about on fresh soil as roots and vines come loose. A fat slug oozes out from beneath a disturbed trailing plant while a spider darts away, seeking a new place to hide.

Spending an hour or more a day for the past two weeks have produced a large area free from the creeping weed, along with a current backache. Nevertheless the sparse growth of exposed grass, along with an ever-growing roll of captured weeds now show proof of Bon Adventure’s slow but satisfying progress.

“There’s a mosquito buzzing by your head, dad. Want me to get him?”

“That does it. I’m done.”

Later that night the truth comes out. Trixie tells Way that she got an interesting phone call at work from Miss Pluck.

2 Comments:

Blogger Gone Away said...

You can't just leave us hanging there! O: More, I insist, more!

3:01 PM  
Blogger The Bubaker said...

How do you write so prolifically Mr Way? Everytime I look there's another post!

4:46 PM  

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