The boy broke free of his dream. He could smell the remnants of dinner on the cooling air. There was an electric hum throughout the space as if a great beast purred at its own pleasures.
The boy cursed the inadequacies of the night-light and broke through the warmth of his bed. Making his way through the dark room, pausing periodically as if to still the air.
The night rustled amongst itself, clouds moved to adjust themselves, and the moon shone. The boy wanted to scream out at the night as his unprotected toes made contact with the edge of the dresser. But he held his breath and didn’t make a sound. Wincing at every step, he made his way to the window. Looking through the vampire light that illuminated the yard, he was comforted by what he saw:
A monument to the vast collection of refused and discarded artifacts from the neighborhood. It stood as a summer’s testament to scraped arms and bloodied fingertips, as a boy’s sanctuary from reality. The primary edifice of the structure was a refrigerator box that the McNally’s had tossed away back in May. The boy had contemplated the old refrigerator that soon made its way to the curb, but after several futile attempts and one near death by squashing, the boy settled for the box and the aluminum door to the old monster. The door worked as a suitable foundation; it lay on its interior side, nestling into the soft earth of the back yard. The exterior smooth surface was perfect to rest the box on, keeping the fragile cardboard away from the dirt. Red bricks from the Paiva’s chimney, remnants from when they demolished it, were used as anchors.
From this, the eventual structure was built up and formed. Pieces of vinyl siding, which were scraps from when the Dubois’ had their house done up in June, were made into a roof canopy. 4x4 planks that were used in building his parents porch, also in June, supported the covering. An exterior wall was made of sheets of plywood that were left in the shed from last year’s hurricane scare. One of the sheets had a small square cut out along its edge; this worked as a suitable doorway. A light blue sheet of plastic covered this main entrance. It was once part of a large tarp that had covered the Fitzpatrick’s pool. The boy had cut away the deteriorated parts, using the better parts for the entrance and as added covering on the corners of the plywood sheets that didn’t meet well. Rusted nails he had stolen from Timmy’s garage fastened much of the structure; he could never remember what Timmy’s last name was. He never took the newer, shiny nails and spent many hours banging away at the twisted subjects to make them useful once more. He also used twine, which he unraveled from a large ball that he had received from Mr. Rosalino in trade for some help with the old man’s yard work.
“It will be all right Donald. Come back to bed now, it’s late and you got school in the morning…”
“Shut up.” The boy nearly tore open the silence, but he kept his voice to a firm whisper. “Don’t call me that. I told you a hundred times. You don’t know me. You don’t call me that.” The boy argued into the night stillness, causing tiny rips in the precious silence.
He marched back to the cooling softness of his bed and took hold of what resembled an amalgamation of dryer lint and yarn with legs and googly eyeballs. It had been a present from an undesirable relative on his last birthday. His mom had placed it beside him when she tucked him in for the night. The boy threw it across the room. He nestled himself back into a safe position with the blanket over his head; it was his only protection in case vampires came for his blood while he was sleeping.
“Good night Donald.”
“Shut up!” The silence was torn.
Morning came with all its passion and burning brilliance. The boy sat at the breakfast table awaiting his meal, his mom moving about frantically with her hands full with bowls, milk, phone, pens, and bananas. The boy watched as she quickly dismissed the tiny spills on the floor and wondered why he couldn’t get away with such carelessness. He observed the routine that had been forgotten in the summer months of sleeping in and eating lunch for breakfast.
“Do you think we’ll have to do all that someday?” The boy spoke.
“Naah, if mom didn’t do all that…well…I don’t think she would feel like mom.”
“I don’t know. It looks kind of scary and all.”
A large stuffed animal in a gorilla costume sat beside the boy on two large phone books and ten smaller mail order catalogues. Its bobbly head, due to the lack of stuffing around its neck, lay tilted to one side in a contemplative pose.
The boy’s mother was carrying two bowels of cereal and one banana. She sat beside the boy on the opposite side of the thinking monkey, placing a bowel and the banana in front of the boy. He slid the banana to Mr. Dobalino, the gorilla.
“So…did you sleep well last night sweetheart?” The boy’s mother reached over and moved the banana back to its original placement. The boy simply nodded in a positive while stuffing his mouth with magically sugarcoated symbols of a dead civilization. “Really? I heard you moving around last night. You were doing a lot of mumbling. I even heard you yell.” She placed her hand on his head, comforting him and straightening his hair. “I mean…remember what Dr. Kanine said.” She coerced his head so she could look at his face. “If you’re having a hard time sleeping we need to know.” Out of the corner of his eye he noticed the banana and moved it back in front of the pensive gorilla. “If you don’t tell us what’s wrong, how will we know what to fix?”
“It’s not my fault. That stupid alien keeps bothering me.” A colorful array of pastel tinted milk and brightly colored words decorated his response, as well as the table.
“Donald! What’re you doing? Look at what you’ve done.” His mother had taken a new turn to revulsion while she wiped his words off herself and the table. “How many times we have to tell you? Don’t talk with food in your mouth! What are you talking about? Alien?” The woman reached over the table moving the banana back beside the now half empty bowl.
“The one Aunt Lucy gave me for my birthday.” The boy placed the banana, once again, by Mr. Dobalino. The gorilla now seemed less in thought and more in caution as the weight of his head was sliding him off his perch.
“A toy? You’re talking about that plush toy?” She threw down her napkin, reached once more for the banana, and slammed it down hard in front of the boy. “It’s only a toy Donnie.”
“No! He doesn’t know me. I don’t want it to say my name,” he pleaded with a dead audience.
“Honey.” The woman took hold of her emotions, focusing her attention in a concerned tone. “What are you saying? Are you hearing things again? Is that it? Donnie, you have to tell mommy.”
The boy became aware of where this conversation was going. He closed his eyes and began humming a constant sound through his teeth. He had seen a kid do this in Dr. Osako’s waiting room. The boy wasn’t sure how this worked, but it worked for the kid in the waiting room.
“Donald stop that.”
He continued till he ran out of air and stopped for a refill.
“Donnie, please, stop that.”
After two breath-fulls he was growing tired of the ordeal and was about to stop.
“All right. All right.” She was defeated for the moment. “Go get ready for school please. We’re going to be late for your first day.” The mother grabbed the bowls and the banana in one clearing arm motion. The boy did not move. “This has to stop Donnie. I mean…Jesus! It’s only a stuffed animal.”
“No! It’s! Not!” He grabbed Mr. Dobalino and ran for the door, bursting out into the glow of the new day.
The boy ran around the house and to the back yard. As he approached the fortress he fell to his hands and knees, scurrying inside.
Tiny beams of light pierced the seams and gaps of the structure. Here was silence, no voices, no fears and the boy enjoyed the place in between it all. Mr. Dobalino had fallen on a pile of Legos and was once again contemplative.
“I’ll be here when you get back.”
“No! You said you would go with me. You said you would come for the first day.” His eyes grew blurred with the rising fluid.
“You know when you get back we’ll build a better spaceship than the last one. This time we’ll make it so good we’ll go all the way to Mars.”
“What if I ain’t…?”
“Go. I’m sure you’ll figure it out.” The gorrilla appeared to be gesturing a compassionate smile.
Reluctantly he crawled out of his own reality. Before he left through the blue curtain he looked back, “Be careful, I think there are ogres about.”
The boy made his way out and headed for the car. His mom was waiting, and the look on her face told him it was not going to be a quiet ride. He looked up at his bedroom window, noticing the alien creature peering down at him. Approaching the car, he looked toward the street corner where the older kids waited for the bus.
He was right; the ogres were about.