Saturday, July 14, 2012

An Evening Not Unlike the Others

By Jon Wesik   

   The night they killed the dogs I finished a twenty-two-hour shift at the Army Crabgrass Warfare Station in Suitland, Maryland. I’ve always believed idleness is the devil’s lunch pail, so I foreswore snacking on furious cookies and sharpened all the mechanical pencils under the grand portrait of Ho Chi Minh, whose wispy beard hung like a MiG-17 contrail from his chin. Before starting the bleary ride home I snuck a Samantabhadra from the chocolate-covered Buddha and bodhisattva assortment and parade marched with my coworkers through the decontamination station.
        Outside a very long satellite skewered stars that glittered like spilled sugar on the velvet tablecloth of night. Pausing in the parking lot I said a brief prayer for the cosmonaut trapped inside with only vodka and blood sausage. Through my surplus night-vision goggles I located the infrared reflection from my Toyota Raptor’s radar-absorbing finish. The ground crew had stenciled a small wheelchair below the driver’s side window with the others, even though CENTCOM had yet to confirm the kill. After arming the heat-seeking missiles and cracking the breeder valve to start the flow of nitrous oxide, I fired up the Pratt and Whitney hybrid turbofans and set the throttle for supercruise. By stabbing the big red button that fired the Gatling gun until my index finger grew blisters, I kept my path clear of slow-moving vehicles. Within minutes I roared through the Coopertown speed trap before my sonic boom alerted Sheriff Johnson by shattering his contact lenses and sending his wide-brimmed hat tumbling into the sugarcane.
           As usual the parishioners at St. John the Blasphemer were lashing the Catamite priest to the rack with bicycle chains and Kryptonite locks. They raised their torches and pitchforks in salute after my tracer rounds mowed down the Sunday school class and set fire to the big cross. I turned left on Elm and pulled into my driveway, where the drag chute stopped my car within millimeters of the garage door. From the cockpit I heard wind chimes sing psalms to the god of upright demons as I disarmed the missiles. I’d become more conscientious with the heavy firepower since my homeowner’s insurance had stopped paying. I climbed out of the car and skipped toward the front porch. Violent petunias brandished M-16s and swung machetes at my ankles, as I made my way through the thicket of botanical experiments gone horribly wrong.
       Wearing a sweater that clung like plastic wrap, my Filipina mail-order bride met me inside the front door, where I inspected her post-office box for signs of illegal entry. It wouldn’t be the first time. Her thighs had been known to bankrupt captains of industry and lead KGB agents to their doom. Before I could take clay impressions of the scratches on the lock, the jeweler’s loupe fell from my eye and she dragged me to the dining room, where a macaroni-and-trees casserole sprouted from the white-pine table. At least I wouldn’t need a toothpick after dinner.
          “Umm, the salad tastes like a briefcase of hundred-dollar bills,” I said, reasoning that flattery could prove the key to her chastity belt.
        “An old friend left me the recipe.” She dialed the combination on the wall safe. “Care for some more?”
         “It’s a little rich for me. How about some cheesecake?”
        “I had to use tofu.” She removed the dessert from the Norge. “Wombats ate the gorgonzola again.”
        Wombats! Our kitchen was infested with them. I could deal with the platypus in the bathtub and the bandicoots in the toaster, but the wombats strained my patience like an enlarged prostate. The monthly bills for their imported grass and chocolate biscuits ran to over three hundred dollars. Resolving to remedy the situation I fed my uneaten salad to the koala in the garbage disposal and retired to the living room.
        A volume of Julio Cotisol’s stories lay unread on the coffee table, but the Argentine writer always left me feeling stressed. Fortunately, the public TV station was showing the Mercury Players’ adaptation of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. When Orson Welles began his monologue on the a priori knowledge of space and time, I heard the unmistakable drone of a C-130 flying overhead.  Moments later the first schnauzer landed on the corrugated roof. I snatched a nuclear umbrella from the elephant foot and dashed outside into the rain of Pembroke Corgis, Rottweilers, and Yorkshire Terriers. A Newfoundland thudded like a hamburger-filled Hefty bag onto the driveway and coated the concrete with pet dander. Its dying lips curled to reveal fangs that had yellowed as if he’d been fed an exclusive diet of coffee and tobacco.
            The petunias fired assault rifles wildly into the air making the scene resemble Desert Storm Baghdad without the domes and minarets. A lucky round caught the C-130 in a starboard engine, and the big plane crashed into the neighbors’ duplex taking out the tree house, swing set, and sugar refinery in the process. Snarls and gunshots came from the cargo hold, as the captives fought the flight veterinarian in a desperate struggle for survival. Within minutes the victorious canines descended the cargo ramp and scratched at the Andersons’ picture window in hopes of Purina Dog Chow, Topol Smoker’s Tooth Polish, and cozy spots on the living room carpet.
        The satellite passed overhead again, this time resembling a fish hook caught in the ear of an unsuspecting moon. I yawned and stretched. It was only 9:00 but with so little excitement, I went to bed.
BIO: Jon Wesik has this to say about himself: I host of San Diego’s Gelato Poetry Series and am an editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual. I’ve published over two hundred poems in journals such as The New Orphic Review, Pearl, Pudding, and Slipstream. I’ve also published over forty short stories in journals such as Space and Time, Zahir, and Tales of the Talisman. I have a Ph.D. in physics and am a longtime student of Buddhism and the martial arts. One of my poems won second place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists contest. Another had a link on the Car Talk website.

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