Monday, June 14, 2010


Jimmy knew he was too old to play under his grandparent's house, but he could not resist the temptation today. Having moved with his mother out of the neighborhood for almost two years now--an eternity at age thirteen and a half--all his friends had forgotten him, and were certainly too old to play such games as 'club-under-the-house'.

Jimmy walked around to the side of the house to use the most obscured entrance to the mysterious cavern of his childhood. Standing at the low entrance, he could feel the coolness leaking out into the summer heat, and against his face. A quick glance around proved that his entrance into the cave could only be observed from his old friend Brian's front porch through a gap in the low brush surrounding him. All was quiet at Brian's house.

Jimmy ducked into the cave with one quick motion--out of the hot summer afternoon and into the dark, damp, mysterious underworld of the house. After a moment to allow his eyes to adjust, Jimmy found himself in the inner sanctum of his childhood. Strewn on the earth floor, the old talismans were still laying about. Folded and broken-legged lay the old road construction sawhorse, with it's heavy battery that kept it's yellow light blinking for two days after it was stolen. Half-buried in the dirt, the varnished-bedpost-turned-Tiki-God stared up with it's deep, shadowy carvings. The frowning Tiki God always gave Jimmy chills up his spine, especially when he was alone.

Jimmy crawled deeper into the underworld, toward the opposite side of the house, where the flooring above and the dirt below constricted, forcing the visitor of this Exalted Shrine to crawl forward on their belly, swallowing the beginnings of claustrophobic fear. Reaching the dark space along the far inner wall, Jimmy pulled the loose brick from the cubbyhole in the cement block wall, exposing an old lunchbox. It seems that all profound objects of childhood --things too adult to be understood by grownups--were small enough to fit easily into a small box: hoarded cigarettes that were carefully doled out during bonding rites and ceremonies; cutouts from girlie magazines, folded and refolded until the reclining women bore deep, white vertical and horizontal scars on their glossy-surfaced skin.

Before opening the box, Jimmy slid back into the more comfortable domain of the Bedpost. Holding the rusted steel box in his lap, he could feel the warm excitement in his lap--the camaraderie and first lust contained within. Jimmy opened the box. A beetle was trying desperately to scale the vertical walls and escape the nearly empty box, his home-turned-prison-cell. All the contents of the box had long been removed except for a small book of matches advertising a local grocery store. Each item, in turn, had been used to grant a single club member entrance into adulthood. All that was left for Jimmy was a damp book containing two matches, and the scorn of an angry beetle.

Jimmy sat in the cool space of the clubhouse remembering times when everyone knew who they were supposed to be, and what they were supposed to be doing. Brian was a couple of years older than him, but up until two years ago they were best friends. Now, when Brian saw Jimmy, he pretended to not know him. Brian now smoked openly on his way to his new car. Brian now ferried girls in his new car, girls louder and younger than the ones kept folded in the secret box.

Crawling back to the entrance of the cave, Jimmy slipped back into the hot summer air, and began brushing off his dusty, cobwebbed clothing. He looked up and saw Brian standing on his front porch. Cigarette hanging from his mouth, Brian looked over and acknowledged Jimmy's existence for the first time in two years. Brian took the cigarette from his lips, blew smoke toward Jimmy, and laughed sarcastically at him before stepping off the porch, and walking toward his car.

Caught cherishing some discarded fragment of time, crimsoned-faced Jimmy took his time removing the last of his childhood from his clothing.