I don’t know what to do with them infesting my house. They crawl, low down, to the ground from room to room. Not quite so low as the mice. But close. And they nibble too. Crumbs stick to your bare feet in the morning as you rub your eyes. And as you hop to pick the crumbs from your feet, you step on some ungodly sharp toy that should never have made it past the safety test midgets at Fisher Price.
No sleep again. Wailing through the night. I sleep anywhere. Anywhere I can. Like a platoon in battle. I’ll sleep in filth if I have to. I sleep in work clothes sometimes. My dress shirts have seams and wrinkles that were never fashionable. I’m wet and stained, on my shoulder and my lap. I’ll sleep on the couch, on the floor with an arm and hand outstretched to their beds, until I can’t feel my limbs, save the needle prick of blood, reluctantly returning. At 3:00 am, I’m a quadriplegic. College prepared me well. When the blood returns, I press my hand to their little heaving rib cage to feel the life innocently easing in and out, and in.
I try to sleep. But you don’t really sleep. And I’m told, from here on in, nothing changes. I’m always watching for the enemy; debt, taxes, choking on crayons, the sharp edge of a coffee table, my own stupidity, a thick rug, cheap toys and screwdrivers-candles-razors-spices-nails-marbles-paint-knives-forks-spoons-Elmo-toothbrushes-dogs-balloons-poison ivy-mosquitoes-sugar-ticks-madonna-zippers-splinters-staples-pencils-plastic bags-ropes-strings-leashes-conservatives-liberals-shellfish-muslims-breakfast cereals-televangelists-wasps-commercial television. The enemy is everywhere.
They don’t know my hackles are up. Guarding. Always guarding. Sitting outside in the dead of night. Planning how I will gladly trade my back, my arms, my hands and spine for a level backyard. And they thank me, they thank me by spewing from every conceivable orifice; leaving their mess; and the walls echoing with screams and laughter. Little creatures. Bizarre little creatures, infesting my house and my yard.
I have to carry them sometimes. Carry them as if they had no legs. Carry them forward, backward, like a baby, like an adult, hold their hand, I catch them and throw myself on middle class grenades at the bank, the dentist and hardware store.
They’re little demanding ghouls, shadows of people, consumptive halflings that dance and sing and tell nonsensical tales of nonsensical happenings in a nonsensical language. They smell, they’re rude and they make me laugh.
They leap and climb and jump on your belly while you sleep. And if you raise your voice to them, they’ll reach in and rip your heart from your chest then look at you and laugh. Glorious little creatures they are, bounding and soaking up life with their very noses, ears and toes. Gremlins and fairies, angels and leprechauns with soft skin and eyes, they are. Infesting my life and my brain while wearing my shoes, my hat and my watch and chewing my wallet and my weekends with expensive little white fangs.
Magical feet, always bare and unfeeling little feet, stomp, fast and furious above your head and then stumble. They can fly you know,…briefly, and slow motion arms stretch up to the sky, then sink and the only sound you can hear before the scream is the thud as your heart falls through your chest to the concrete basement of your soul. I take their bruises from them, one after the other, and my spiritual shoulders grow with scar tissue, from playgrounds and asphalt, untied shoes and pinched fingers. Only now, can I see how terribly big my Father’s shoulders must have been, and how calloused and capable his heart, like a mason’s hands or a catcher’s mit.
I’m battered and bewildered, and my eyes, wrinkled like my shirt, can’t stay open long enough to catch a late night movie or a late night buzz. Yet I would gladly let the little beasts feed off me, Donner-style, until the end. I’m thankful for every stab of joy and pain and would clearly starve without them, infesting my home.