*Inspired by the song “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” by Paul Simon
It all began with a sound.
Mama Pajama knew every sound her house made as it settled at night, which was why she jolted awake when she heard an unfamiliar noise. She rolled out of bed without waking Papa, slid her feet into her sheepskin slippers, and stepped into the hallway.
The odd sound, human, yet somehow alien at the same time, was coming from Alfred’s bedroom. She approached eagerly yet cautiously, resisting the temptation to call out to her son, especially if it turned out to be something harmless. She didn’t want to be accused of being an overprotective mom, or even worse, a nosy parker. She was about to rap lightly on the door when she found it was slightly ajar. Before she realized what she was doing, her hand was pushing the door open.
Later, Mama Pajama would attempt to describe what she had seen, several times to several different people and each time she would fail miserably. In the room, her son and his best friend, Julio and a girl she couldn’t identify facially but knew her instantly as Rosie because of the Queen of Corona tattoo on her left shoulder, were all stark naked doing…
She simply didn’t know what. Applying logic to the reason why what she saw was indescribable, she cited the invisible ships phenomenon relating to the myth of Captain James Cook’s 1770 voyage off the coast of Australia, in which the indigenous people were unable to see the 106-foot long ship, Endeavour. Popular belief was that the huge ships were so alien to everything the natives knew to be true, that they were mentally, and therefore physically, unable to register it. That was what happened in her son’s room. What Mama Pajama saw defied perception, which meant it defied description.
It wasn’t sex. That was something she needed to clarify each time she explained that the trio was naked in her son’s bedroom. Or if it was sex, it wasn’t like any kind she had ever witnessed, even when she found herself down bizarre internet pornography rabbit holes, on the odd occasion she required inspiration for her self-pleasure.
But she knew it was against the law. Against Newton’s Laws of Motion, against the law of physics and against the law of Nature. Not that she could have cited specifics, it was simply something she felt in her waters.
She had no choice but to wake Papa, more than for him to bear witness. Perhaps he could see what she clearly could not. It turned out he couldn’t, but the image, instead of conjuring confusion as it did for her, filled him with rage. He saw a wrongness in the architecture of their bizarre union that sent his mind spinning toward the outer fringes of sanity. He attempted to storm into the room but was barred, as if by some invisible wall of force. He raged against the barrier, and screamed obscenities at Alfred, but neither had any effect. Papa raced back into the master bedroom, picked up the phone and dialed 911.
By the time the squad car arrived, Julio and Rosie had long departed, leaving Alfred alone and naked in his bedroom, that still emanated energies of the unspeakable, unknowable act, so though Officer McCorkle had no idea what to charge the teen with, he knew it was in the best interest of the family and the whole town, to lock Alfred up and somehow convince Judge Comstock to place him in solitary confinement somewhere far, far away and throw away the key.
But on their way to the station, the squad car was sideswiped by a black 1986 Buick Regal and forced off the road and into the fence of the local schoolyard. The driver, a middle-aged man dressed in a black robe and dog collar, bolted from the Buick and wrestled the pistol and handcuff key away from the officer, but not before McCorkle managed to put in a radio dispatch for back up.
Alfred was confused and terrified until he saw Julio and Rosie climb out of the Buick and rush over to the squad car to release him.
“Who the hell is this guy?” Alfred asked, pointing at the priest wrestling with McCorkle.
“Father Adeptus,” Julio said matter-of-factly as if that explained everything.
“Don’t worry, he’s on our side,” Rosie said, catching the handcuff key tossed by the priest and freeing Al’s wrists.
“How did you find him?” Al asked.
“Actually, he found us,” Julio said. “When we left your house, he was waiting for us, like he knew where we’d be.”
“Says he’s got a lot to teach us about who we are and what we can do,” Rosie added.
Alfred looked dubious. “And you trust him?”
“Yeah,” Rosie nodded, without even thinking about it. “Don’t ask me why, but I do.”
In a lucky wild swing, Father Adeptus managed to strike McCorkle’s temple with the butt of the pistol, knocking the officer unconscious, just as the sound of a distant siren filled the air.
Adeptus turned to the teenagers, “We have to leave!”
“You go,” Rosie said. “I’ll create a distraction.”
Adeptus wiped his fingerprints off the gun, returned it to McCorkle’s holster, and he and Julio made their way to the Buick.
Alfred grabbed Rosie by the wrist, “There’s no way we’re leaving you behind. Come on.” He attempted to pull her along, but Rosie planted her feet and wouldn’t budge.
“Relax, hero,” Rosie said, kissing Alfred gently. “I know where you’re headed. I’ll catch up.”
But there was a connection between them, perhaps it was always there or maybe it was due to how they had joined in his bedroom, and Alfred found that he was physically unable to walk away from her. Sensing his desire to stay, and thereby fouling up her plan, Rosie frog-marched Alfred to the Buick and shoved him inside, slamming the car door shut behind him.
Alfred pressed his hands against the car window, his face full of embarrassment, anger, and maybe even love, as he asked, “Are you one hundred percent sure about this?”
Rosie tore her shirt sleeve, revealing her tattoo, and rubbed dirt from the soft shoulder on her face and clothes.
“I got this, trust me. See you in a few,” The Queen of Corona said, tossing Alfred a smile and a nod before running toward the sound of the sirens, waving her arms frantically.
“Goodbye, Rosie,” Alfred said as the car pulled off.
The Buick was on its way and although Father Adeptus told him the meetup destination was the corporate offices of Newsweek, Alfred had no idea where the journey would eventually take them.
To be continued…
Text and Audio ©2014 & 2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys