Copyright© 2020 by Lazlo Zalezac
Sean opened the garage door only partially ready to do battle with the disaster laughingly called a garage. He stepped back surprised by what he found. All of the test equipment was stacked up against the side of the garage and the rest of the garage floor was cleaned of leaves. He went out and looked at the side of the garage and noticed that there were three more bags of leaves piled there.
He returned to the garage and said, “This is amazing. I wonder if Dad did that last night.”
He sat down on one of the pieces of test equipment and sighed. The previous evening had been better than anything he could have imagined. He and Suzie had sat around the table talking until eight. Then they had gone out for ice cream. They had stayed until the ice cream parlor had closed. Even though it was still before ten when they arrived back to her house, it was almost midnight before he arrived home.
The late night had made getting up that morning twice as tough as usual. Lily had been her normal cheerful self and had merrily served as an alarm clock without a snooze button. He had growled and threatened bodily harm to no avail. It was just 7:30 in the morning and he was already in the garage. That didn’t mean that he was fully awake.
His head tilted forward and it wasn’t long before he was asleep. He woke with a start and wondered how long he had dozed off. He yawned and looked around at the garage. He would have said that the garage wouldn’t clean itself, but it appeared to have done just that the previous evening. Feeling a little more alert, he took stock of what had to be done.
The garage still had a long way to go before being clean. He rose from his seat and grabbed one of the boxes. Curious about the contents, he opened the box. Inside was a puppet that he had when he was a kid. He took it out and manipulated the puppet to walk across the floor. He folded the puppet and put it back in the box. He decided to stack the boxes on the other side of the garage.
As he moved each box, he opened it and examined the contents. He took his time and checked each item. There were a lot of little things he remembered, but had never missed their absence in his life. He had just stacked the seventh box when his mother came out to the garage.
Shocked at the progress he had made, she said, “Wow. You’ve really been working hard.”
“Hardly working is more like it,” Sean answered feeling guilty for his little nap.
“Your father and I came out here last night after dinner to see how it was going. We were quite pleased with your progress. I can’t believe you moved all of that equipment this morning,” she said.
Sean looked around the garage wondering how it managed to get cleaned if his father hadn’t done it. He asked, “So did you do anything while you were out here?”
“What kind of question is that to ask your mother?” she asked. She felt it was none of his business what she did with her husband when he and Lily weren’t around.
“I was just wondering if you moved any of the stuff around,” Sean asked more than a little puzzled by her defensive answer.
“Oh,” his mother replied.
“Did Dad happen to mention what he wanted to do with all of this junk equipment?” Sean asked.
“No, he didn’t,” his mother answered. She looked around still shocked at how much Sean had accomplished. She said, “You must be tired. Why don’t you take a break?”
“That’s okay,” Sean said thinking that he had already taken a break. He looked at the boxes and asked, “What about the boxes?”
“I guess you can just stack them over against that wall with the others,” his mother answered.
“Okay,” Sean said.
“Well, I’ll go back in the house,” his mother said.
“Alright,” Sean said lifting one of the boxes and carrying it over to the wall. When he set it down, he looked over at where his mother had been and found that she was gone. Stepping back, he said, “I wonder who cleaned the garage.”
He thought about the Brownie that he had met the previous day in the garage and wondered if Tim-Tim was responsible for it. He felt bad about the little fellow spending all night cleaning the garage. Hoping that Brownie could hear him, he said, “I’ll finish the garage tomorrow.”
There were only a couple dozen boxes on the floor. Sean moved each one into place. Looking through one of the boxes, he came across a jewelry box with a bunch of costume jewelry in it.
He noticed that a couple of the pieces were made of 12K gold. Thinking about needing gold in a year, he said, “I wonder if I can keep this.”
He put the jewelry box aside on the workbench. Stepping back, he looked over the garage. Most of it was pretty clean except for the area around the workbench.
Sean was about to close the door to the garage, when he thought about the puppet. Something was working in the back of his mind and he couldn’t figure out what it was. All he knew was that the puppet was important somehow. He went over to the box and removed the puppet. While he was at it, he decided to take the jewelry box in the house as well.
Sean went directly to his room and deposited the puppet there. He knew that if Lily saw it that she would want to play with it. Once she got her hands on it he would never get it back. He went back to the kitchen carrying the jewelry box. His mother was seated at the table paying bills. Sitting down, he slid the jewelry box across the table and said, “I found this when I was cleaning the garage.”
His mother looked at the jewelry box and said, “Oh. I completely forgot about that old thing. You can throw that out.”
“Okay,” Sean said thinking that there was some nice stuff in it. He asked, “Can I keep it?”
His mother smiled and asked, “Going to be giving your girlfriend jewels?”
“Something like that,” Sean answered although the thought had not entered his mind. He had been thinking more about the gold than what jewelry represented.
“So how was your date?”
Sean answered, “I had a great time last night. We had a nice dinner out on the patio and then went out for ice cream.”
“You got home kind of late,” she said.
“It was nearly midnight,” Sean said. His mother and father had already gone to bed by the time he had gotten home. He wasn’t sure if she knew what time he had come home.
“I know,” she said looking over at him. She asked, “What did you do between the time the ice cream parlor closed and getting home?”
“We just talked,” Sean said.
Sean nodded his head and said, “Yes, we just talked.”
“We didn’t go to all of that trouble yesterday so that you could just talk,” his mother said with a smile.
“We had two years of conversation to catch up on,” Sean said with a grin.
“Two years of conversation?”
Sean said, “Yes. Our meddling mothers kept us from having any meaningful conversations for two years. Between Mrs. Emery hovering over us like a vulture and you sending me to the store every hour, we never had much of a chance to talk.”
“So you’re saying that our plan to keep you two apart succeeded,” his mother said with a grin.
“Only too well,” Sean replied.
“So what kind of things did you talk about?”
“Our meddling mothers.”
“Ah, that is always a good topic of conversation. I’m sure that you had great things to say about us,” she said.
“I’m not sure you would appreciate the phrases in which the word great was applied,” Sean said with a smile.
“I’m wounded to the core,” she said theatrically holding her hands over her heart.
“I’m sure you are,” Sean said.
His mother asked, “So when are you seeing her again?”
Sean shrugged his shoulders and said, “She invited me over to swim this afternoon.”
“Ah, she wants to show off her bikini,” his mother said with a knowledgeable smile.
Mention of the bathing suit reminded him of the skimpy little thing she had worn the other day.
The idea of seeing her in that again caused his heart to redirect the flow of blood to a different region of his body. He shifted in his seat and said, “Maybe.”
His mother noticed his sudden discomfort and said, “You like the idea of that.”
“I think Suzie and I are cursed with meddling mothers,” Sean said feeling his cheeks grow warm.
“You and Suzie are blessed with great mothers,” his mother said smiling at the comment about meddling mothers. She was pretty sure that meddling was an integral part of being a mother.
Wanting to make sure that he understood some of the intricacies of motherhood, she added,
“Meddling is what makes a great mother.”
“Who told you that?” Sean asked with a raised eyebrow.
“It is in the ‘Great Mothers Handbook’ on the first line of page one,” she answered with a smile.
“You should have read the rest of it,” Sean said.
“By the way, Suzie bought that swimsuit just for you,” his mother said bringing the subject of conversation back to where it had been.
“How would you know that?” Sean asked surprised by that little piece of information.
“The vulture and I talk about you two a lot,” his mother answered.
“A far more interesting topic to discuss with her is cats,” Sean said.
His mother laughed and said, “You sure are fixated on cats.”
“You would be too if you ever discussed the matter with Suzie’s mother,” Sean replied.
“I’ll do that. Now get out of here so that I can finish paying these bills.”
Sean looked down at the jewelry box and said, “I’m going to put this in my room and then head out to play in the woods for a while.”
“Okay,” his mother said looking down at the bills.
Sean took the jewelry box upstairs and sorted through the items in it. There were three rings that were made of 12K gold. He went to his computer and looked up how much gold content there was in 12K gold. He was a little disappointed to discover that it was only half gold. He wasn’t sure how much the rings weighed, but together they were nowhere near an ounce. He said, “I’m going to have to get more than that.”
He grabbed a shoebox from his closet and stuffed the puppet in it. There was no sense letting his sister see it. She would want to play with it and he would never get it back. Carrying the shoebox in one hand, he headed out for the woods. Once on the path, he looked around to see if anyone was watching. Convinced that the coast was clear, he headed off into the woods in the direction of the old tree house. He looked at it and shook his head. There was almost nothing left of it. The little structure held so many fond memories that it kind of hurt to see it that way.
When they were kids, it had been such a grand thing.
Opening the box, Sean studied the puppet with far more care than he had ever given it. The puppet as a whole was pretty heavy compared to what his magic could handle. The strings were definitely lighter than the rock and he hoped could manipulate them. He wondered if the fact that the strings were connected to the puppet and the cross sticks would affect his ability to control them. He looked around and found a good branch on which to hang the puppet.
Stepping back, he commanded the string attached to the right foot to rise. The string rose and pulled the foot up with it. He made a fist and raised it into the air while he shouted, “Yes!”
Sean looked around and found a comfortable patch of grass on which to sit while performing his experiments. It put him about six feet away from the puppet. For the next fifteen minutes, he practiced making the puppet dance. It took a bit of mental coordination to get the puppet to move in a fluid manner.
He was in the process of trying to get the puppet to disco dance when, from behind him, a voice asked, “What are you doing?”
Surprised, Sean jumped up and spun around. Feeling like he had been caught masturbating, he said, “Suzie!”
“Sean, what are you doing?” Suzie asked staring at the puppet. She had seen it moving all by itself. Looking at it, she recalled the strange little things she had noticed over the past few days.
“I’m playing with a puppet,” Sean answered.
“It was moving and you weren’t touching it,” Suzie said still staring at the puppet. She wondered if there was a remote control, but she didn’t see anything that suggested there was anything unusual about it. Sean wasn’t holding any kind of control mechanism.
Deciding that he should tell her the truth, Sean said, “I was doing magic.”
“Magic tricks?” Suzie asked forcing her eyes from the puppet to look at him. She looked to see if there were thin wires that were controlling the puppet.
Sean shook his head and said, “No. I was doing magic.”
“Real magic and not magician type magic?”
“Yes, I was doing real magic,” Sean said.