- For Curt -
When my children’s toys break they await repair in our ‘fixing bin’. These items are it’s current contents. This is their story.
The day Chardon witnessed its first alien abduction had been perfect for flying a kite. Just when it seemed winter would at last clench its icy fist, a warm wind arrived overnight carrying with it the damp, rich scent of softened earth and decaying leaves. It was a lazy Saturday in late February when nothing of particular interest was bound to happen, the Maple Festival still two months off. Construction projects in the heart of town long since completed, a residual lull permeated the Square leaving little to surveil besides the grass that would eventually grow to cover its muddy perimeter.
Or so we thought.
The sun rose slowly over Ferris Avenue as Laura locked her front door and began the short trek uptown. All was quiet, save the wind howling through barren branches of maples and oaks that dotted the tree lawn. Empty streets speckled with pools of rippling water reflected gray clouds, a backlit sky. At the sudden blaring of a car alarm her pace quickened. Laura ascended Water Street to arrive at Antiques on the Square in record time. She immediately took to the basement and began relocating a vast collection of artificial flowers at the insistence of the fire inspector and alongside the shop’s owner, Pat. Afterwards she swept the floor, unearthing a brightly colored butterfly ring of unknown origin which Pat insisted she keep. The ring tucked safely in her coat pocket, Laura continued north on Main Street to Beans where she would command the flat top grill and prepare, among other things, Curt’s oatmeal.
It was mid-morning when Spooky, having held court in Beans for the better part of an hour, took the last bite of a buttered cinnamon chip muffin and made for the door. He’d already consumed three breakfasts on his A.M. route along Main Street and, feeling internally motivated, wagged his tail insistently, hastening John’s farewells and the duo’s departure. Chin tucked deep into the neck of his cargo jacket, John waited on Spooky under cover of the Heritage House, bracing against the gale force winds that had prevented most Chardon residents from getting out of bed that morning. Meanwhile, just south of the Square in the alleyway behind Geauga Lyric Theater, a small crew navigated a large striped sofa through the stage door where it would replace one stained by pinot noir during an after party held in honor of opening night for The Curious Savage. Much to John’s relief Spooky materialized at last, curiously, dragging along a perfectly preserved fragment of Tyrannosaur skull.
Excavation began in earnest after a significant portion of the Square was cordoned off. Small black baggies generously provided by the city aided in the removal of certain ‘foreign specimens’ from the protected area. Propped comfortably against their headboards, Chardonites watched with rapt attention as G-TV produced a live stream of the project from its rooftop position above Jasmine Dragons. Meteorologists and reporters alike from cities as far away as Cleveland, thwarted by a barrier of thin yellow plastic, stood suctioned to the Square’s brown periphery wringing their hands and gesticulating excitedly. By noon Spooky had been interviewed by every major news outlet, proclaimed a local hero by the mayor and awarded a key to the city.
Wind velocity increased throughout the afternoon gathering ominous black clouds - and Chardon’s more adventurous residents - in the city’s epicenter. The Square was a zoo and there were animals as well. Even Achilles the cat, dedicated as he was, abandoned his post on Ferris Avenue to follow the steady stream of spectators parading up Water Street from the general direction of Marc’s grocery store. They’d climbed out of pajamas and into lawn chairs that lined Short Court, Park Avenue, the roof of Park School’s auditorium. Steam billowed from the chimney of the Heritage House as syrup production continued unhindered by the unfolding drama. Free maple stirs were distributed to the crowd along with the day’s mail courtesy of Chardon’s postal carriers. Traffic uptown was gridlocked and, much to everyone’s satisfaction, all lights around the Square flashed green and ‘walk’. Oddly, the electronic sign displayed a strange digital gibberish which no one, apart from Curt, had yet been able to decipher.
At 7pm, to 65mph gusts and the rhythmic sounds of cardio drumming, well-dressed ticket holders made their way to Geauga Lyric Theater. The sun had begun to set and, as a spotlight shown across the theater’s stage, purple-pink lighting washed the courthouse exterior. Following instruction, at precisely 8:12pm Curt stepped into the gazebo. At 8:13pm, mid-way down Ferris Avenue the branch of a dead maple tree collapsed on a power line causing blinding sparks and complete blackout within a two mile radius while, at the same time, mid-monologue, an actor pacing through the living room stage set tripped over a misplaced foot stool in the dark, blindly grasping at a sofa cushion on her way down and tearing the seam.
Laura, tired from a long days work, stood at her kitchen sink washing dishes by candlelight, staring out at the deepening dark. Her daschund, Oscar, entered the room. She turned to him as he looked up at her innocently and vomited a half-eaten butterfly ring onto the kitchen floor.
Curt watched in amazement as, with tremendous rumbling, the gazebo shook loose of its foundation and hovered within a few feet of the ground. For an instant he blinked and when his eyes opened everything appeared as normal.
“Did you see that?!” he asked, motioning to the window as Laura placed a small, steaming bowl of oatmeal on the table in front of him.
“See what? The wind?”
The bell chimed and a strong breeze rushed into the coffeeshop. Laura walked the few paces to the door, pushed it shut.
P.S. I told you important things happen in gazebos.