Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lohbado and cups in the cupboard

baby clams

Lohbado woke up in the night and decided to water the plants. He went to the kitchen, flipped on the light switch and reached up to test the soil of a plant on the middle shelf. He tugged at a couple dead leaves, unaware they were attached to a vine which had grown down from above and gotten tangled up with the lower plant. When he pulled at the dead leaf, the plant from the top shelf came tumbling down and smashed the coffee pot on the counter to smithereens. Coffee sloshed into drawers and on the floor. He cursed and swore.

He opened a cupboard door to find a rag. It was unreal. Things come crashing down out of the cupboard. The apartment was filled with demons, coffee spill all over the floor and in drawers, chaos of spilled coffee, broken glass and debris. Clutter and mess came thundering down. Cans and packets of curry gravy, jellyfish, pickled cabbage, grass jelly and baby clams spilled out all over the counter and on the floor, cupboard guts, a real mess.
The loud noise of things crashing on the floor in the kitchen startled Alf, who lived in the next apartment. The walls were so thin, he could hear whenever Alf talked on the phone or listened to the radio. At night he could sometimes hear the neighbour upstairs snoring. Lohbado heard footsteps in the hall, the unmistakable quick step of Alf, coming to see what was the matter. Lohbado wasn't in the mood for explaining. He wished Alf would go back to bed. He didn't want to answer the door. Alf could be such a pest. He was so easily upset. He had very little control over his emotions. People said it was because Alf suffered brain damage as a boy, when he lived in a village and got attacked by a wolf.

Sometimes wolves attack dogs and children, especially after a long cold winter, when food is scarce. Alf was never the same after the wolf sunk its teeth into his skull when he was nine years old.  He had a scarred lip from where part of his mouth had been torn off. After the wolf attack, adults noticed how young Alf became different. He had visions of hell and heaven. At first, while in hospital, the boy drifted to heaven. During his first six months of recovery at home he lay with the angels. Recovery went fine until it was time to go back to school. He wasn't ready to face the world.
Alf's heaven clouded over the moment Alf rose from the bed and put on his coat and shoes to go to school. After returning to school, the devil took over. Satan opened the door to the way of the world. That’s how it started. That’s how Alf ended up in a cheap apartment block overlooking the wrong side of the tracks, where Lohbado lived during his first year back in Yamaville after six years in the dome and a year of wandering across the Plains of Radiation.
Alf banged on the door and wanted to know what the loud noise and commotion was all about. He carried a cup of coffee to Lohbado, in case things were terribly wrong. Coffee seemed like the ideal medicine. He offered Lohbado the cup of coffee. To be polite, Lohbado gulped it down, even though it was about 3 in the morning. The coffee was too strong. He saw lights and heard a ringing noise. The walls pulsated with each heart beat. With each inhalation, the room brightened; each exhalation, the room darkened. Alf stood in the hall as Lohbado leaned in the doorway to his apartment and reeled from the effects of Alf’s strong coffee.
The noise of the kitchen mishap, plus the sound of Lohbado and Alf talking disturbed Rex. Rex wanted to know why they were making so much noise in the middle of the night. He didn't like being awakened. Rex came out of his apartment from down the hall. Without even thinking, as a kind of habit, Alf asked Rex if he could spare change for a croissant. Every day Alf went out pan handling, until it became routine for him to ask just about everyone for money. 

Rex said, in a deep voice, missing teeth making the gash of his mouth appear large and dark, like the entrance to a snake pit, “Naw, I don’t do that sort of thing.”
Meaning: I’m warning you. Don’t do your routine on me or you’ll seriously regret it.
Alf understood right away. Leave Rex alone. Don't bother him. The best thing would be to shut up and go back to bed so people could get some sleep. Soon everyone in the apartment block would be waking up to complain.

The terrifyingly clear voice of Rex could pierce even the thickest wall of confusion. Lohbado admired the power of Rex’s voice. Lohbado’s voice was too non-aggressive to have much effect on anyone. Of course, his voice also offered the protection of being non-threatening, or invisible. Rex fought his way, tooth and claw from the school yard, right through the bull pen and rubber room and emerged, a few missing teeth. Just don’t ask him to talk about it. Rex startled Alf back to his apartment. Lohbado slammed the door. They went back to sleep as if nothing had happened. 

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