I know now that there is an invariable link...between fantasy, and reality. When I bring these memories to my mind's forefront, the here and now,... the moment is true and cannot be disputed! Who are we, ...to take anything away from Lou's special moment, by counting it's luridness on measure of it's ludicrity?
The nights were becoming colder as Lou drifted off to sleep in the drafty corridors of the 5th bedroom in our two bedroom house. The garage . It was Lou's time to inherit the garage bedroom, as the seventh of twelve children were rotated through various makeshift bedrooms in our small house by the river. As Ma clicked the washing machine to her last spin cycle, we all knew that we could exit the chaos for a while, and perhaps drift off into painless sleep.
The cold night wind whirred through the portholes of the unfinished eves of his inherited garage bedroom. It was rightfully his...it was his turn. Just as we all knew that our older brother's worn and fabricless underwear would surely be ours one day, should they survive a year or two of spin cycles and Lou's treacherous dill pickle methane.
We lay silently in the next room, together in our beds with our BB gun rifles firmly at our side under the blankets. We were a dedicated militia. More than Pooh's with popguns! We lay anxiously in our bed waiting to take aim at our enemy before we drifted off to sleep.
Enemies? Perhaps. Nonetheless, we often invited our enemies in, by chucking a vanilla wafer or two up into the attic. Who were these enemies?
This thought in mind, we enticed our enemy into our barracks. The purpose was not to befriend, ...but to concentrate the beasts.... who often scurried above us from rafter to rafter in squeaky chatter, causing us to sleep with one eye open,....fighting the needful urge to sleep until we could be sure we we not looked down upon as food!
Eventually, we would pop them with a BB or two, and most would scurry away in fear, while some others stayed to eat their dead. And when things calmed enough, we could grab both ends of our plug-less electric blankets and form a sort of 'mummy-casket' around our bodies, meant to both keep us warm, and ward off any mid-morning surprise eat-tacks. Every couple of hours or so, we would be forced to emerge from the makeshift casket to let in a new supply of oxygen, and then fade away again into peaceful sleep. And every once in a while, we could take some sanctity in the appearance of our wonderful brave pet cats.
And so it was with Lou, as he emerged one morning for a fresh supply of oxygen. Groggy-eyed and frazzled from little or no R.E.M. sleep, he found some peace in knowing that the cat has chosen HIM! ...to curl up with this night! A warm and fuzzy purring ball of warmth and friendship. Our faithful servant,...our cat,...curled up next to and wrapped his fuzzy tail around Lou's ankles.
Lou yawned and smiled, and pulled his sleep-partner up from his ankles and closer to his face, so that he could hear and feel the joyful contentment of the sleeping cat, who had chosen HIM!...yes HIM!!! to sleep with tonight! He stroked the kitty's ears in a compassionate "thank-you" and waited, as he knew the purrs would become more resounding as he stroked. But the purr-coaxing scrumples had no effect on the kitty, and Lou pulled him closer,.....close enough so that he could feel the tickle of whiskers against his lips. "Sweet kitty....nice kitty"..., he thought, as he managed to muster a little pucker and give the kitty a small kiss. Then he began to fade away again into another two hours of newly contentful sleep.
Just as that last hum of consciousness was leaving him, he paused to capture and process that peaceful picture of his curled-up feline buddy slowly batting his eyes at him , so that he could take the image with him as he exited reality and could hopefully reach dreamstate.
It seems that one of our mortally wounded river rat enemies caught a BB or two in his gullet, but took a while to die. We guessed that it limped painfully across a rafter with a belly full of BB's, it died...and landed at Lou's ankles.
Oh Lou!, ....if only you hadn't found that link, between fantasy and reality. If only you hadn't stopped for that one last glimpse and changed that precious moment.....