Monday, May 16, 2011

A Night Time Visitor

Exiting the front door of my house, my feet clomped on the wood stoop as I headed to the corner where Mr. Wilson's house once stood to catch the school bus. I drew up short when I found Johnny in the front yard standing at the base of the large oak tree, staring up into its boughs. His jaw hung open as if he had been struck dumb. Johnny was not necessarily the sharpest tool in the shed, but he usually had some sort of excuse for his unusual behavior.

"Johnny, what are you doing?" I asked, snickering through my words.

Without saying a word, Johnny pointed. My eyes followed his finger toward the sky and my jaw fell as loose as his. There in the utmost branches of the tree, nearly twenty feet over our heads, hung my bike. We stood looking at it, quietly considering how it had made it there from the sidewalk where I left it the night before, until the bright yellow flash of the school bus passed at the corner of our vision and we ran all the way to the corner to catch it.

Arriving at the cafeteria table for lunch, Johnny had already informed the rest of the neighborhood boys about finding my bike. Eric suggested that maybe aliens had taken it with their tractor beam to inspect it and misjudged returning it. Several of the boys laughed, but a few shared concerned glances.

Another suggested asking One Eyed Lily, as she was always taking pictures and had probably already reported it to the government. Several thought this was a good idea, but no one was willing to go to her house and ask. We decided we would just have to figure this out on our own.

After school, with the help of my dad's ladder, the one he used each year to clean the gutters and to adjust the antenna after a storm to clear the static from the picture on the television, we retrieved my bike from the tree. Johnny and Eric asked their parents and made plans to stay over that night to watch and see who or what had placed my bike in the tree.

We took turns watching from the window of my room, while those not on duty read back issues of X-men comic books and munched on snacks we smuggled up to the room from the kitchen. One by one, we silently drifted off to sleep with promises of waking each other up when it was our turn to watch.

Squeaking noises from outside the window woke me with a start, my heart threatening to jump from my chest. Looking around the shadows of the room, I found Johnny and Eric curled on the floor asleep. Slinking quietly to the window, I cautiously peered over the window ledge, afraid of what I might find.

A shadowy figure was hunched over my bike, wheeling it toward the tree. It was tall, with long arms and accompanied by an animal of some sort. As quick as I could, without waking my parents, I slipped down the stairs and went to the front door, figuring if I cut the porch lights on it might scare the being and give me a better look at it through the windows by the door.

Thumbing the switch, the lawn was instantly bathed in light and the creature turned his head slowly to look right at me through the window, sending my body into an instant sweat. The animal that was with it began barking, loud enough to wake the entire neighborhood. Opening the door, I stepped outside.

My great uncle Mack stood holding my bike, while his dog, also named Mack ran up to lick my fingers. They lived at the far corner of the neighborhood and Mack often walked Mack early in the morning, "before all the commotion" he would often say. During the day, he tinkered with a large radio he used to speak to people around the world.

"Uncle Mack, what are you doing? Are you the one that put my bike in the tree?" I asked.

Laying the bike down and uncurling his large frame until he towered over me, he looked over his bulbous nose, and spoke, "You should not leave your bike out. A car might hit it."

He called Mack, the dog, to his side taking his leash and walked off into the darkness. I watched him disappear, then wheeled my bike to the side of the house and crept back into the quiet house. Johnny and Eric had never moved and as I lay back in my bed, I wondered how an eighty year old man had lugged my bike so high into the tree.

It has been about six months since I have written one of my Suburban Adventures. Thought it might be a good time to take a trip back. For more of the quirky adventures in my childhood neighborhood, see previous chapters here, here, here, here and here.

59 comments:

Colleen said...

I enjoyed this. Sometimes it seems to me that childhood memories (or made-up stories about childhood, whichever:) have this slight sens e of unreality. Maybe it just how we see the world when we are so young.:) Great writing.

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Rob said...

I like the alien theory.

Brian Miller said...

i agree colleen...everything had an edge of unreality or magic to it...each of these post captures just a bit of that...and then of course we grow up and everything has a logical reason....a bit sad actually....

Lorraine said...

yes memories, I seem to remember that

She Writes said...

:). No place childhood. Forget what they say about "home"!

Daniel said...

But how did the old man do it? How could he have hefted that awkward bike up through the tree's limbs. Perhaps he didn't do it after all and the dog knew more than he was letting on ...

ayala said...

Smiles....nice, Brian. Nostalgic...I like the alien theory..I love the story...

Brian Miller said...

i dont know that we ever figured out how he did it daniel...but we spent plenty of hours speculating on it...which may be another post all together...

Suz said...

I'm with Daniel on this one.
Adventure...ah, kids love it..kids imagine it, kids wallow in it..
oh to be a kid again..nice one Brian
I like that you left us with a bit of doubt

Valerie said...

Your stories are fabulous, Brian. More suburban tales wanted.

DJan said...

Totally cool, both the recollection and the telling of it! I enjoyed it very much and speculate also how he did it!

David Allen Waters said...

these stories always have a feel of Mayberry to them...love it :)

Mama Zen said...

I was wondering the same thing. How did he get it up there?

Margie said...

You are an amazing writer!
Love this story!

Corinna said...

ahh, the mysterious and adventurous tales of childhood...love it...are we going to get to find out exactly how he managed that or maybe it wasn't Uncle Mack at all? hmmm...

Bossy Betty said...

Love going back to childhood with you.

annell said...

You made me recall something that happened when I was a little girl. A boy friend came to call on my older sister. And while inside, the tire on the boy's bicycle exploded and was blown up into the pecan tree in the front yard. It is hard to believe, but it really happened.

dopey said...

**fun times** :)

Pat Hatt said...

haha that was such a fun read, it is amazing the stuff we think up as kids. Maybe he hired aliens to help him.

Oh wait wasn't in rhyme
I'll be lazy and just state what a fun time.

Nancy said...

So HOW did he get it up there??

Amy said...

Aww, the mysterious uncle. . . I'm betting on the aliens. Maybe Uncle Mack was removing the bike from the tree? 80 yrs old? WOW, good shape for an old man. I love childhood memories like this!

Claudia said...

ha nice - uncles and parents do the strangest things to make their kids aware of possible danger...just recently i stole my son's purse out of his open car...gave it back of course...
brian - i think it was one of these stories where i met you first..nice...almost getting a bit nostalgic..smiles

Sue said...

Great story and well told.

The rhythm of your words is nearly as evident in prose as in poetry!

Loved it.

=)

Brian Miller said...

Nancy, it was Mack who put it up there...how he got it so high, he took that answer with him years later...

adeeyoyo said...

I love these stories of yours, Brian.

trisha said...

what a guy!!!!!!

moondustwriter said...

I first met you via your short stories Bri
Keep turning them
They are the best of you

Hope said...

oh, this was a fun read! enjoyed it very much!

Myrna R. said...

Such nice memories of a boy being a boy. I like your writing, it creates interest immediately.

Barbara said...

Fun story.
Once, back in the 60's, as a birthday prank, a bunch of the men in our group had collected airplane parts and hoisted them on top of their buddy's roof. They assembled it to look as though a plane had crashed into his house. When he drove up with his wife, you should have seen his face. Then the party began......we had such fun back then!

ed pilolla said...

the bike in the tree happening is a thing that would whip around a school in minutes. really like that beautiful boyhood energy here, bri.

Bristol said...

Delightful! Uncle Mack named his dog Mack? That's fantastic! I loved the way you told this story... start to finish.

Pat said...

But did HE really put the bike up in the tree? Just because the kid saw him taking the bike the one night doesn't necessarily mean he took it the night before, right? Hmmm....get's a person to wonder!

lorely said...

I've got an 80 year old mother-in-law...I can assure you she's still got the spunk to lug a bike up a tree! Thanks for the smile :)

Tara Miller said...

I always love when you talk about your childhood memories .... Reading about them is just as enjoyable! What fun and special moments to share love. ;)

lori said...

I love the magic of childhood possibilities. Everything was bigger than life, and anything was possible. I guess it can still be like that if we let it, right? Love your short stories, too, so thanks for posting another one :)

Friko said...

Well, did you ever find out how he got the bike into the tree?

Josh Hoyt said...

I like the magical feeling childhood has. I sometimes wonder how much we have given up by not allowing ourselves to be children. Maybe it would be best if we took a day off each week to be children and just do things we used to do. Well maybe I still do...maybe more than I should:)

Bonnie said...

Oh, the mysterious ways of the adults that people a childhood!

AmyLK said...

Freaky! I love when you write about the neighborhood.

Travel & Dive Girl said...

Nicely done. My mom and dad used to "steal" my bike, skateboard - anything I left lying around to try and teach me a lesson...great memories.

tracy said...

I always love these stories. You had such an interesting childhood, Brian, full of fascinating characters!

CM said...

Oh I like how you waited until the end to tell us he was 80 years old! Very captivating, kept me wondering until the end.

Jill from Killeny Glen said...

Lesson learned? I like Uncle Mack and his "ways." :)

Betsy said...

Oh, loved this! It's been way too long for another chapter! I agree our childhood imaginations were the best...especially when fed by those of our friends!

Me said...

I missed this place, Brian. It's been too long! You know I love these tales.

Can't wait for the next one...hope we don't have to wait another six months. :)

Reflections said...

Loved this journey back... can't wait to explore the others. Stirring memories of childhood adventures and the unexplained.

Magpie said...

"Thumbing the switch, the lawn was instantly bathed in light and the creature turned his head slowly to look right at me through the window, sending my body into an instant sweat." Scary stuff here! I loved it. I'm thinking the aliens aren't entirely ruled out. :)

Alcina said...

Is it real?..Gosh! heck of an adventure..

Was totally gripping..

Zuzana said...

Beautiful post about childhood memories and the way we recall our past. At times I myself do not know if what I remember is reality or a product of my imagination. Or a mix of both.;)
One Eyed Lily made me laugh, as I just came here from Susan's blog where she talks about names.;) And my name means White Lily.))
Have a great day Brian,
xoxo

happygirl said...

I loved this story, and the Mr. Wilson story (I looked back, thanks). You certainly paint the picture and bring me into the story. Talented.

Syd said...

Uncle Mack was an odd duck. Why didn't he just move the bike to the side of the house? Interesting fellow and a great story. I can only imagine how you must have been wanting to catch the mysterious alien.

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

Awesome

secret agent woman said...

I often think that I don't really want reality intruding too much on my memories of childhood.

Bee's Blog said...

You had me in suspense when the light bathed the lawn - great read.

haikulovesongs said...

this feels more like Mayberry in the Twilight Zone. i really enjoy your writing, Brian.
dani

Alice Audrey said...

An old man put the bike way up in the tree? No way. Must be aliens.

Sure you aren't going to write more of these? I love them.