It wasn’t so much the history as the hair – Nabookar’s hair. That’s what the boy loved, and if anyone asked, he told them “Nabookar was a chief with the wildest curves of burgundy.”
Kids in the neighborhood grew curious. They gathered in the early morning, to be there, when the boy pulled the curtain cord. He never did at the same time, but he always did the same thing. He stared at nothing in particular, for 20 minutes sometimes. Then he would wiggle off the chair in spasms, like he had been tasered and slip gracefully into a somersault of however many rolls it took to reach the window, poke his head outside, look left, then right, then left again….a cuckoo bird escaping the clock.
Kids grew spiteful. They heaved all kinds of vegetables at him, some fresh, some not so fresh. He changed his name to Arooooooon and turned every taunt into fuel. Then he screamed “vrooooooooom vrooooooooom goes Arooooon, to the thicket on the outskirts of town.”
Mom and dad figured all the fleeing would end with the arrival of arm pit fuzz, but it didn’t. After Mom kicked dad out, she kept right on figuring, that the fleeing would end when Arooooon poked around under the hood of his first jalopy, but there never was a jalopy. There was only Nabookar and Arooooon’s course.
“Some course!” screamed his mother. “You’re nothing but drift wood.”
“Vrooooooooom vrooooooooom goes Arooooon to the thicket on the outskirts of town.”
He changed the walls of his bedroom or not the walls, but the posters he pasted on them. He removed the tidy animals of pleasant looking fur – all the bunny rabbits and guinea pigs that surrounded that wonderful head of Nabookar’s hair and replaced them with centipede legs and scorpion stingers.
But he never messed with Nabookar.
And suddenly he was no longer a kid and then no longer a teenager, nor a twenty something-er either. In fact, he was 33 years young and neighbors, not school kids scrunched a wicked grimace when Arooooooon walked by. He kept his vow and recorded each and every taunt on a notepad. He stored them under his pillow in the same bedroom he slept in as a child.
It was a few hours before sun rise, on the eve of Aroooooon’s 34th birthday when his mother mustered up the courage to finally make a run for it – to the bus station – for a one way ticket – 2700 miles away – to be free of what she had created – her only child.
The father smelled the mother’s escape exhaust because he rose above the thicket where he slept on the outskirts of town. He stomped single-minded to the home he had built with his own hands and braved the smells that sparked all the memories, of being kicked out, not so much for sloppy drinking, but for failing to light a fire under their boy’s breast.
“Make him a captain of industry, a singer of Psalms,” his wife would scream, “Something! anything!”
But she was gone now and as the father rounded the final corner, he whiffed an island of spruce and spotted the black shutters of his boy’s room and sighed. Another chance, he thought, to put an end to the boy’s aimlessness.
Pops still had a left over from the previous night’s drunk so he fell right at home slipping through the cat crawl space into the kitchen. He wondered out loud to his boy of 33 years young about circuit boards, the mechanics of a lawn mower, and the intricacies of a ceiling fan. He seemed to be getting somewhere too because the boy stacked toothpicks on the table in the shape of what appeared to be a log cabin.
There was Echo bowl later that same afternoon. They weren’t exactly attached at the hip, more like a locomotive and caboose with a million box cars in between, but the beer, balls and pins falling was a start. Pops flashed a few hand signals to the bartender. A liter of Wiser’s Whisky arrived. He gulped and so did his 33 year young son. The son stomped outside. Now the father followed to under the overpass where the brightest of Bazaars was always under way. A black market filled with beautiful wild-eyed drunks, louts, scums, and serendipeteers laying out their worldly wares onto the naked earth, from pinball machine parts to baseball cards to paper clips, porcupine statues.
Aroooooooon eye’s became like microscopes there.