Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Zombie Come Home







The other morning finally brought temps down into the 30’s; this after a schizophrenic fall made it difficult to discern if we were indeed heading towards winter, or straight back to spring.

Just this past Saturday, Z and I came upon a small bunch of confused crocuses happily reaching toward the warm, sunny, October sky.

However, once they saw all the pumpkins scattered about the neighboring lawns the expected finger pointing began, at least in a metaphorical sense, since crocuses don’t have fingers to point.

“I told you this didn’t seem right!  Wayyyy waaaaay too early! What are we going to do, now; I didn’t pack my woolies...did you? I told you not to listen to Carla...Carla always jumps the gun!”

At least that’s what I heard in my head...in reality who knows what they were saying.

They’re crocuses. They have a language all their own.

Anyway, it was cold the other morning.

Really cold.

Winter cold.

So, there I sat in our sun room, minus the sun, listening intently for signs of hot water meandering its way through the pipes and into my 92 year old cast iron radiators.

Did I mention it was cold?

Shivering, transfixed with every drip and gurgle, hands wrapped around a hot cup of coffee,  I heard a rustling outside, by the front door.

More of a shuffling, really, which could only mean one thing...the Zombies Across the Street were back.

But, how could that be? The Zombies haven’t been around for over a year; not since they decided to pack up and take what I perceived to be an extended vacation with some ghouls out west


At least that’s what I wanted to perceive. Truth is, they were run out of town by a group of irate townsfolk, toting torches, pitch forks and curses, which I thought was just plain rude on any level, medieval or otherwise.

Torches, pitch forks and curses...really?

What is this, the 70’s.

Anyway, I believe the issue had something to do with overdue library books.

I mean, waaaaaaaaaay overdue library books, which wouldn’t have been the case, in the first place, if the head librarian didn’t maintain an antiquated “No Tolerance” policy towards the un-dead, which applies to all the un-dead—Vampires, Draugrs, Jiangshi, Bansheess, Poltergeist, Witches, Lichs, Mummies, Revenants...even Werewolves, who are not technically un-dead, at all,, but very much alive, even with their odor issues.

So it’s not just Zombies.

Not fair, right?

You’d think someone or thing would stand up for what’s right.

But, no...uh, uh.

Not one of the civil liberties groups would touch them.

And, to add insult to injury, the ghouls were told, “No pulse...no rights”, so there was really nothing to be done for them.

Can you imagine how disheartening that must be...even if you don’t have a heart to begin with?

Then the knocking started, which confirmed my Zombie assessment, since the Vampires never knock; they just appear and the werewolves only scratch and claw until you answer.

Another knock, this time with a bit more urgency. I knew I’d better answer it before they kicked in the door, which they’ve been known to do, but only with good reason, at least to them. Although, no one ever said reason and Zombies go together.

I swung the door open and there was Grandma Zombie’s arm held up in mid knock. Of course Grandma Zombie, herself, was nowhere to be found, but with Zombies that’s not at all unusual; they don’t always come together.

It was Burt, knocking with Grandma Zombie's arm; or at least some ghoul wearing Burt’s old bowling shirt. It was hard to tell since Zombies tend to change a lot over time.

Nuff said....

Still, I was pretty sure it was actually Burt; he had that same old mischievous glint in his eye. Or that’s what I thought, until I saw it was just a piece of coke bottle somebody tossed at his head, a while back.

People...always in a rush to judgment.

“Hey, you’re back!” I said.  “It’s been a long time. Where’d you all run off too, without even a goodbye?”

Which I immediately regretted since Zombies tend to be sensitive when it comes to their lack of social graces, even though they try very hard to fit in.  Plus, there was the whole torches, pitchforks and curses thing, which I’m sure they’re not proud of, even though none of that was on them.

Like I said...people....

Of course, Burt always has a way of putting others at ease in uncomfortable Zombie situations, because, well...that’s just how Burt is. Nothing ever fazes him.

He merely wrapped an arm over my shoulder and headed for the fridge to fetch a beer, leaving me to deal with Grandma Zombie’s discarded arm.

Burt held up two bottles and expressed dismay I was still drinking Summer Ale instead of Octoberfest.

Now, if you’ve ever conversed with a Zombie, you know it can be tricky at times. One moan and or wail sounds a lot like every other moan and or wail. You’ve got to be pretty good at reading body language, even if there’s not a lot of body to work with, at times.

“Sorry, it’s been a warm fall, so I’ve been sticking with the lighter brews.”

Burt hugged himself and shook, indicating it was cold outside, and I agreed; it was time to break out the warmer brews. Then I wondered how I was going to clean up all those loose bits of Burt that had dropped onto the floor.

Not that I mentioned it.

I thought it would be rude.

But then Burt laughed in that Zombie way, which sounds more like an animal in distress, and indicated he was just messing with me.

Same o’l Burt with that dry, deadpan sense of humor.

Then he asked—I think—what I’d been up to and indicated he noticed I hadn’t been writing much lately, which took me by surprise since I didn’t know the Zombies kept up with my stuff.  They never mentioned it, not even the occasional “thumbs up”—with theirs or anyone else’s thumb—unless, of course they were featured in it.

“Yeah, I’ve been in a bit of an existential writing funk. A “to write or not to write...that is the question” kind of thing.

Burt cocked his head, with a show of concern at my response...either that or a couple of ligaments in his neck snapped, again.

I took it to be the former, so I swallowed a tug of my beer, and elaborated.

“Folks don’t seem to be into reading, stories, essays, blogs or whatever you want to call them, these days. They’d rather watch a video of a cat licking a Giraffe, or a cute baby watching a video of a cat licking a Giraffe. The more you think you’re contributing to the zeitgeist, let alone making a difference, the more you realize it’s all falling on deaf ears and mischievous baby goats. Maybe because of words like zeitgeist.”

Burt nodded and rolled his eyes, which made me wary since you never know where they’re likely to end up.

“I mean, if no one’s all that interested in what I have to say, why bother sticking to a regular schedule. Or why bother at all. I figure I’ll just write when I feel like it. And to be honest, nowadays, I don’t feel like it all that much. There’s just waaaaaay too many distractions....like that marathon of ‘Alias Smith and Jones’ the other day.”

Disappointment drooped off Burt’s face...literally

I have to admit I was kind of touched by his obvious distress in listening to my conundrum; but then he indicated he really wished he’d known about that marathon.

“Yeah”, I agreed.  “That was a good show. Really underrated as far as mindless, smart alecky Cowboy shows go....”

Burt nodded in agreement then mimicked fast drawing a six gun. A few more Burt pieces flew by my ear.

“Besides”, I continued, again, ignoring the social faux pau, “It’s kind of difficult mocking the occasional absurdity, here and there, when every day seems more absurd than the last.  How can you keep up? One absurdity trumps the other. Plus everyone’s so sensitive and divided...you never know what’s gonna offend and set someone off.”

Burt waved his arm, or maybe grandma’s arm—it’s hard to tell after a while—as if to say, “Screw it...just write what you want and let them o’l bones fall where they fall. You can’t worry about what other people, living or dead, are gonna think!”

I shuddered at the image of all those bones falling because it reminded me of—well, maybe that’s better left in the past.

Anyway, I took Burt’s advice to heart, all the while keeping my own tucked safely in my chest.

What can I say; a Zombie’s still a Zombie, no matter how insightful they may be.

“I think maybe you’re right, Burt.  I guess I’m just looking for an excuse to slack off.”

Burt shrugged, as if to say, “Sometimes a little slacking off is a good thing.  When the time’s right...the time’s right.”

At least that’s what I read into it. And, again, who am I to argue with a Zombie, affable or not.

Burt finished off the last of his Summer Brew, bottle and all then stood up to leave. He indicated he needed to get back across the street to help the others start setting up their holiday Haunted House, which has gotten quite the reputation over the last few Halloweens.  

“Well”, I said, walking him to the door. “I’m glad you guys decided to shuffle back to town”, which produced a noticeable frown on Burt’s face.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, I thought. When am I ever going to learn!

Burt looked me straight in the eye, which is always bit unsettling, and suddenly began to howl, as he pounded me on the back with good cheer, indicating he got the joke.

And with that he headed back across the street.

At least I think he got the joke.... 

Who knows, with Zombies....?


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