Year-Long Jack-O-Lantern Supply
I have a big problem. I big, big problem.
Today started off okay, I mean, considering how it ended up. Like, when I woke, the sky was not purple, so I figured no more houseguests would arrive. Also, I didn’t have the tingling feeling in my lips that often precedes particularly odd or dangerous Pepe behavior. Like when Pepe decided, around Christmas, that he would help me by installing a yard sale antenna on my roof and I came home to find him standing in a tree beside the garage hammering this Pleistocene, multi-limbed monster into the very precarious limbs of an old Bartlett Pear, all while singing Chinese Opera with a Spanish accent. When he heard my car pull in, he shouted down, “SEE MISS! I’M PUTTING THIS ANTENNA ON THE ROOF FOR YOU BECAUSE I LOVE YOU! IT HAS MANY ARMS! IT WILL SEE EVERYTHING! EVEN IN MY COUNTRY!” And I gently shouted back, “BUT PEPE, YOU’RE IN A TREE. THE ROOF IS BEHIND YOU!” And he turned to see, even though he is blind, and fell out of the tree pulling the pterodactyl antenna down with him, and landing, luckily if you choose to see it that way, in a giant bank of snow. He cried out, “OH NO, OH NO! NOW YOU WILL SEE NOTHING LIKE BEFORE!” (It astonishes me that he believes we all see on television what he sees on television, and that this is due to a failure of reception. Nothing we say convinces him otherwise, not even the simple, “Pepe, you are blind.”)
That day, I felt my lips tingling right when I woke up. And the day he considered bathing, so locked himself in the bathroom, removed his clothing, turned on the water and then had a panic attack and began to scream, in some bizarre mix of Quechua, Spanish and Chinese, but was so terrified by the water that he could not unlock the door and I had to remove the doorknob to rescue him, but not before the tub overflowed. And I had to see Pepe naked, and in fact had to dress him because panicking blind men with hydrophobia can not dress themselves (just so you know if you are even in this situation). That day too, I woke up to tingling lips. So now, when I wake up, I do a labial scan before even getting out of bed. And the day seemed safe. The only annoying thing was this very close by beepbeepbeepbeep, that went on for a while, and the relatively close hum of a truck, which I figured was someone’s lawn guy or some moving van, though it was pretty early. I didn’t pay any attention to it and when I look back on the day, this is where I went wrong. I need to remember to take everything seriously. Every sound. Every instinct. Everything I notice means something, possibly. Probably. Because now I not only have Pepe, but also Morton Huseman. And I am not certain about the bodily clues of Morton’s Mischief, though I have a hunch. And until I am sure, I need to be hypervigilent.
So I went about my day. It was a particularly busy day. I had neglected to iron on the Brownie Badges for LH of the red lips and white skin, the dark eyes and the able hands. She is like Snow White. Yes. You read right. I have a child who looks like Snow White and is also assiduous in that same Snow White-like way. Anyway, I digress. So I had neglected to iron on the badges and it was Brownie Day and I am that mother. The one who makes bad Shepherd’s Pie on purpose and forgets to iron on the Brownie Badges. I really only want to read to them and write novels. I also enjoy their company for I have raised them to suit me perfectly. Because I am that kind of mother. Anyway, I continue to digress. So I woke up, did my lip check, and got crackin’. Brownie Badges, papers to sign, breakfast to make, kids to shuttle, research to conduct, meetings to attend etc etc. And when I got home, I exited the car and smelled manure.
Now here is the thing. It’s not unusual once spring hits to exit the car in the suburbs and to smell manure. Because everyone is mulching their yards. But it is January. It is January. I looked around. My neighbor’s neighbor (who must not have a job)was out there, he waved. I waved back. I opened the garage and went in the house and the smell of manure was stronger. Yes, you read correctly. I entered the house and the smell of manure was stronger. My heart began to race and then suddenly…my ears went deaf and dingy, you know…that airplane thing. It happened to me once over Dubai, my ears went completely thick and were wracked with needle-like pain. At the time, I considered that death would be preferable. That was an indulgence of youth, that I would die rather than suffer the momentary needle-like pain in my ears. I have kids now, so I suffer these things mutely without contemplating suicide. But that is what I felt, the simultaneous deafness/needles pain in my ears. Very unpleasant and a clear harbinger of doom.
I put down my handbag and my grocery bags and scanned left and right. I bent over to take off my shoes and I could swear that as I bent forward, the manure smell was stronger, so I thought, with relief, that it was my SHOES, that I had STEPPED in something! So I picked them up to check and no manure. It wasn’t my shoes. I dropped to my knees and definitely the smell was stronger closer to the floor. So I began to crawl, through the kitchen, into the living room, through the hall and as I approached the basement door, the smell grew overpowering and I knew whatever it was was in the basement. I stood up and opened the door and the stench threw me against the wall. There was a blinding white light emanating from the stairwell and there was absolutely manure in the basement. Yes. You read correctly. There was manure in the basement. I walked slowly down the stairs and peeked around the corner and there were Morton and Pepe, on their knees in the middle of a plowed field, under a ceiling suddenly strung with thousands of white bulbs. They were examining with rulers something they held in their hands. Seeds. They were measuring seeds, both of them. And Pepe is blind.
My basement carpet was missing, or underneath the 20 cubic yards of manure. I looked around. There were my walls and my teeming bookshelves, and my windows, looking outside…meaning I was definitely inside. My mouth dropped open and Morton and Pepe looked up, as though the sound of my thudding heart had interrupted their measuring.
Morton looked back at Pepe and then swiveled his head over to me again. He said nothing and blinked. Pepe grinned, stood up, ran over and threw his arms around me and shouted, “MISS, OH MISS! WE ARE GROWING PUMPKINS! PUMPKINS MISS!”
They are growing pumpkins. Yes, you read me right.
It seems Morton Huseman, in addition to his online Chinese Opera Instruction, also runs a year long jack-o-lantern supply with a worldwide market. He grows pumpkins through a self perfected pumpkin-forcing process and when they are the right size, he carves them on demand into whatever his customers order. He assures me he is a “Pumpkin Artist.” He showed me his albums.
He said, “I can make you in pumpkin.”
I looked at him with my mouth open. My ears, remember, were popped, “Did you say, you have made me into a pumpkin?”
He swiveled his eyes over to Pepe and then back at me. He stared and waited, “No. No I did not say that. I said, I can make you in pumpkin. I can make a pumpkin into you.” He smiled his microdontic smile and blinked his penguin eyes. I shuddered and chose not to pursue it.
“Why don’t you grow them outside?” He swiveled his head over so fast I thought this time for sure it would spin off entirely leaving me with this shit to clean up, but it didn’t. He just stared especially long.
“You can not grow pumpkins year long in an uncontrolled environment. I am not even sure your basement will work.” He looked around at my basement with some disdain I thought.
Pepe chimed in, “OH MISS’S BASEMENT WILL BE PERFECT FOR ALL ENDEAVORS. MISS HAS MAGICAL POWERS!” Pepe is convinced I have magical powers. He makes me lay hands on his eyes every day. I do it. Who knows…maybe I do. I am left handed and and I have an odd spot on my tongue.
I didn’t exactly know how to respond. You see, the problem is that the manure is already there. It’s a problem I never imagined handling. I’m not so good at confrontation. I said, “You put manure down on my floor.”
He swiveled his head and stared and finally said, “How else can I grow my pumpkins?”
I answered, “But there is manure. On my floor.”
He replied, “I put down trashbags.”
I am not sure what do to…I’ve seen Pacific Heights. I am afraid of Morton Huseman. He has penguin eyes, and an online jack-o-lantern carving business. Jack-o-lanterns! It’s just not natural. I am afraid, this is the truth. And I need your help. I do not know what to do. All I know now is that my preternatural signal of Morton Huseman’s madness might be Dubai Ears.
So I am simply asking, after you read this, if you have any thoughts, please feel free to send them to me, because…I just don’t know what to do.