My six-year-old astral projection wandered a zoo in the early morning. Because it was a dream there was fog everywhere. Because I was six there were monkeys everywhere. Sound bounced around in a stratus igloo and I was surrounded by a wall of simian screeching, a primate a capella Spinal Tap cover band barraging me with their greatest hits, "Lick My Feces" and "StoneFeces."
I was alone for a long time. But soon a shape suggested itself in the fog, impossibly tall. It didn’t make any sense until it entered my clearing. It was a man, in slacks and a short-sleeved polo shirt, with dark sunglasses, holding a wooden, spoke-backed chair high above his head. A little boy sat in the chair, looking either calm or resigned.
"Jeremy is here," said the man in the short-sleeved polo shirt. Then he turned and walked back into the fog.
I didn’t recognize him, but I felt as though I didn’t ever want to meet him again.
Later I was in the yard of the farmhouse we lived in, just outside of Carp, Ontario, across from the police station. The tall hedgerow shielding our yard from the country highway just beyond rustled, responding to a transient wind. The wind died and the rustling continued. I looked up and a man emerged from the hedgerow. He was in slacks and a short-sleeved polo shirt, with dark sunglasses, holding a wooden, spoke-backed chair high above his head. He was not the same man as the stranger at the zoo. But the same little boy sat in the chair, looking either concerned or desperate.
"Jeremy is here!" shouted the man in the short-sleeved polo shirt. I couldn’t tell if he was angry, accusing, or territorial. But I felt as though I didn’t ever want to meet him again.
Even later I was in my neighbour’s living room, in the house to the left of mine along that same stretch of highway. The living room looked out on the front lawn through a large bay window, and the entry hall was blocked from view by a short wall. I sat on the couch watching wrestling while my neighbour entertained George and Weezie Jefferson, all finished movin’ on up and preferring to live in the country. Weezie sat to my immediate left on the couch, and George on hers, while my neighbour sat across from us in an old chair, her back to the bay window.
"Well, back then George was a policeman," Weezie was saying as I began to pay attention to the conversation, "and do you know where we lived? At the police station!" For some reason this was the funniest thing Weezie had ever heard herself say, and she laughed her deep raspy laugh while George smiled at my neighbour.
Weezie’s laughter was startled to an end by a pounding at the obscured front door. The pounding repeated, then ceased. I could hear the creak of the door, and then solid footsteps in the entry hall. A man turned the corner. He was in slacks and a short-sleeved polo shirt, with dark sunglasses. He was the first man, from the fog-swamped zoo. He was holding a wooden, broken, spoke-backed chair high above his head. The boy was gone, and the man was furious.
"Jeremy is not here!!" he growled. Then he hurled the broken chair at my head as I sat on the couch next to Weezie Jefferson.
But I wasn’t on the couch. I was sitting in the chair as it flew threw the air at an empty spot on the couch. As I landed face-first I felt the broken spokes slam against my head. I heard the man stomp back toward the door, open it, and then close it, while the Jeffersons and my neighbour screamed.
From my position on the couch I could still see the bay window and the front lawn, and the man came into view from the right, walking in front of the window and staring in. I closed my eyes to slits like any child feigning sleep and willed him not to see me there in the wreckage of the chair. Somehow I knew that if he saw my eyes he would see me, and he would come back for me.
He criss-crossed the lawn, growing ever more distant, getting closer to the country highway as he strode back and forth in front of the bay window. And the lawn began to turn to red brick beneath his feet. When the lawn was fully transformed his entire body slowly turned to red brick from the bottom up. And just before his face changed, as he reached the edge of the lawn and the far left edge of the view from the bay window he was joined by the second man in the short-sleeved polo shirt. They turned and walked along the road, crossing back in front of the bay window, turning into red brick until only the sunglasses directed at the window gave any indication that they were still intelligent, directed beings.
Searching for Jeremy.