Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

moon man

He only comes out the night of the full moon. We watch him from the window of our upstairs bedroom. We pretend to be asleep in our beds until our parents turn off the lights. Then, we look up through the window for the sign of the moon. We had hoped when the street lamps were fixed, that they might fool the man into appearing. The man was not fooled.

tonight's the night, a full moon. We brushed our teeth, and rushed into our pajamas. Our parents, we assumed, were clueless. They thought we were eager for a story. We wanted no stories. The sooner they were gone, the sooner we could step up to the window and gaze at the side door of our neighbor's yard. We were excited to see what he would do tonight.

The man, as if he was in tune with the sounds of the neighborhood, waited until even our parents were fast asleep. We weren't asleep.

He emerged, shimmering in the moonlight like a silver fish, shaking off moisture. He was nude and fat and clumsy. He had no hair on his head, and eyes of complete whiteness. He never looked up at us in our window. We waited to see what he would do tonight. The first time we saw him, he danced around the lawn like a cross between an elegant ballerina and a flailing squid. We giggled for days trying to recreate it. Our parents thought we were just being silly. The second time we saw him, he stacked cans of cat food in upside down pyramids, with a single can on the bottom, and the rest perfectly stacked in squares up to a dozen wide. One time, he seemed frightened of the fireflies and whacked at them with limp-wristed hands more like flippers. Our neighbors seemed normal enough in the daylight, and if we ever asked they refused to acknowledge that every full moon, after dark, a man did strange things in their back yard late into the night.

Tonight will be no exception. The moon is full. He has emerged. He stretches, farts loudly. He shakes his elongated feet like flippers. He steps into the yard with the strange empty expression on his pasty white face. Then, he stops. He looks nervously side to side.

A man steps from the shadows: my father. My father raises his old service revolver and fires.

the gunshot wakes up the neighborhood. It's so loud it echoes in my skull for days and days, bouncing around like a schizophrenic bad idea. The police come to collect the man. They are going to take the man to the zoo, and feed him to the tigers there.

Nothing is ever wasted.

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