Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Look Through The Ground

Moans and muffled screams. It can't be coming from next door; the elderly woman moved out months ago. Maybe a young couple touring the house, testing its acoustics. Maybe murder. Maybe I'm hallucinating.

A siren in the distance. Coming here? On and on it wails. Then the moans cease, the siren fades. I look out the side window. No car, no lights, no people. What the hell was that all about? Perhaps madness is mutating my brain. What singular, horrifying sounds and images await me? Is this why older people talk to themselves in public?

When I sit outside my son's school, waiting for him to be dismissed, I watch the children in wheelchairs, on crutches, their small bodies twisted by birth defects, heads nodding, mouths open, arms and hands reaching, curling. What do they see? What is their subjective reality? Several yell and scream, others simply stare off, eyes widened, semi-smiles then grimaces, silent, alive.

These kids attend a school next to my son's. In his first two years there, he worked with them as part of the curriculum. He was a little freaked out at first, having never been around people with severe physical challenges. But he quickly adapted, maturing in the process.

He doesn't feel pity but respect. He's amazed how hard these kids try to achieve the simplest tasks. His father, on the other hand, fights back tears nearly every time. I was raised with an uncle in a wheelchair, back when people openly frowned upon paraplegics outside of the home or hospital. I recall food shopping with Don, noticing older women staring at him with visible fear and disgust. Don didn't care. "Fuck 'em," is all he'd say, pinching peaches for ripeness.

Don defined his environment. His legs didn't work, but his brain took up the slack. These kids are different, at least to me. Basic existence appears to be their main engine. What goes on inside them I haven't a clue, but it breaks my heart. Then my son appears, tall, gangly, long brown hair blowing across his face. He usually has a gag ready, whether throwing himself across the car's hood in slow motion, acting as if he's been hit, or informing me with a straight face that he's been expelled for reasons he cannot divulge -- but we may get a visit from the police later on.

My late Uncle Don, no slouch in the humor department, would love this kid. I'm simply crazy about him. It's the one form of craziness I find solace in. As for the other forms, well, adjustments are continually made. I'd elaborate, but a pterodactyl is trying to break through the living room window, and I must beat it back with an aluminum bat.

Fall's in full swing!