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Heroics | StoryPoem | Light-Years in the Dark


From pop-up books to electric trains to video games, he dismantled all his toys. Within days after flirting with the notion of play, he divided each item, strewn in pieces across the floor, decomposed to nuts, screws, and micro chips. Neither his father nor mother could comprehend their son’s destructive nature. As he grew, he advanced from disassembling wind-up toys and play stations to taking apart toasters, cell phones, televisions. Hard-earned money gone straight down the drain, his father complained. Poured next into child therapists, all hired and willing to listen – for a price! Specialists who determined their son to be retarded, exonerating them of any parental blame. But then a motorized lawn mower got dismantled down to its rotor blades and spark plugs and his father lost control – slamming a fist through a sheet-rocked wall, and inadvertently lashing his wife in the face during his unrestrained rage. A leather belt accidentally cutting her lip while he whipped their son incessantly before she intervened. Pleading defense on her son’s behalf, his innocence, since he never harmed a living soul, was never cruel to animals, and was a loving boy. Whom she loved, but did not fully trust, and so she hid her treasured items behind padlocked doors and bank vaults for safekeeping to guard them against her son’s inexplicable temptations to deconstruct. Though not on a daily basis, this desire to destroy inanimate objects. Weeks and months would pass before an appliance fell victim to his malicious curiosity. If only, his father lamented, he learned to put the damned things back together! Which was the approach his parents took from the advice of pediatric clinicians and counselors, who encouraged him to pursue this constructive path, until it became clear this boy had no interest in resurrecting anything, only in knowing how these mechanical and electrical devices came apart. Following puberty, he discovered girls and his parents were thrilled and relieved, since his obsession to dismantle stopped. So they thought. They purchased athletic items – footballs and mitts – to encourage an energetic interest in sports. He played hard and received top honors, winning the hearts and minds of many, especially members of the opposite sex. At age sixteen he was surprised by his parents presenting him with a car to celebrate his maturity, this milestone, his ability to drive legally and be semi-independent, but secretly they worried he would fall prey to his old habits and take the engine apart. Which was not uncommon among teenage boys. But misplaced were their worries. Their son’s interest in dismantling things had shifted to unhooking bras in the comfy quarters of his automobile and single-handedly stripping the panties off dates. His fingers being nimble, having years of experience, he quickly determined how things fit and came off. After a series of maneuvers, knowing where to touch, what buttons to push, women went to pieces, melted, virtually coming undone. He credited his childhood predilections for this prowess to attract, arouse, then unloosen girls who were very complex, wired differently, requiring much more work than toys, turntables or any video game. Yet receptive, females delighting in his abilities. Not so much the parents, nor the school principal, who were all ineffective at chastising and belittling his achievements, his extracurricular activity, determining the behavior bad, warranting detention, plus a one-week suspension. During the break he broke into the office of administration late one night to unlock and erase the computer banks of memory. Resulting in his expulsion from school. Deemed a troubled youth and in need of discipline, he was sent off to a military academy by his parents. Which led to the Army and training for war. Placed on the battlefield to perform in a special squad. Facing fear and swathed in protective gear he dissected volatile mechanisms. His survival skills challenged daily with each time-sensitive device constructed with the sole purpose to obliterate life. Defanging venomous snakes he equated his mission to a song, singing “Another One Bites the Dust.” Joking to ease the tension among his cohorts who never mentioned the countless lives they saved. Yet keeping score. An unofficial game they played. An intrepid bunch of risktakers functioning as one, not disengaged. Each a vital component, an integral part, holding the universe together, was what he felt but would never say. As with love – a commitment at the core of existence – he was hell-bent and heaven-sent to save this fragile place, he had come to believe. Until one day a split second too late he too was returned to his elemental parts – into particles as nebulous yet as pure as the medal of honor his parents received.

Excerpt from Light-Years in the Dark: StoryPoems (see more)
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photo-art design by todd crawshaw

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