Thursday, November 29, 2012

Winking, Blinking And Oh So Odd by Ken L. Jones

I decided to start a little early with my December holiday posts and when you read this one by Ken L. Jones you will see it is kind of appropriate.



Winking, Blinking And Oh So Odd


Ken L. Jones

Every town has someone somewhat like Odd Charles Oldfield but Yucaipa, California was unlucky enough to have the one they cloned the rest of them from.

He was the sort of guy who took all the fun out of Christmas by shoving it down people’s throats way too soon, way too long and all this was done in a way that was so shrill and frantic that it made you wonder what exactly was wrong with this so-called grown man. While the guy was everything that was garish, commercial and overblown about that time of the year perhaps the most obnoxious thing that he did to celebrate it was what he did to the front lawn of his modest tract house.
Now to put all this into proper perspective you have to understand that Odd Charles was a retired school teacher and people have been making fun of them every since Washington Irving first took quill pen in hand and scored off so comically on poor old Ichabod Crane.

Odd Charles was indeed a direct lineal descendant of Sleepy Hollow’s most famous school master, the inheritor of his mantle if you will. It wasn’t just that he was so fat and over groomed and un-masculine acting that made people want to make sport of him. Now this has always happened with other male school teachers and probably always will but there was something else about Odd Charles that made normal people shun him when they were unlucky enough to get in any kind of proximity to him at all and that was how childish acting he was. He truly was the total personification of a first or second grade child both in his actions and in his very thoughts themselves. People speculated that the reason this was had been because he had spent so much time in the company of children instructing them that he had somehow in the process devolved into one himself. 

Now the greatest manifestation of this childish instability was how he overdid it about any kind of holiday you might care to mention. There weren’t any of them that he didn’t remember or commemorate and if they made obnoxious outdoor decorations for them then he had them out in his front yard days and even weeks too soon to signify just that. Now it was rumored that he went way into debt to accomplish all this and that the fifty foot tall inflatable Easter bunny that he always displayed out in front of his too prim for words little home had drained much of his 401K savings in order to accomplish that but still anything you can imagine about how he did up Christmas would fall short of the true reality of it all.

To give you a little context about all this it is important that you understand a few things about Yucaipa, California and the certain pathetic little street that Odd Charles lived upon. Now to begin with nobody living recalls what Yucaipa really means in any language English or Indian and that says a lot about the place. It is one of those strange towns that has no true industry or fulltime jobs in it nor even such simple amenities as a Wal-Mart or a local bowling alley and strangely most of its inhabitants are militantly proud of that. The one and only town paper which has to give itself away because no one would ever buy it had recently ran an article that stated that Yucaipa had long been negatively loosing population. Those that replaced them these days seemed to be people who resembled the tribesman who tried to kill Indiana Jones with blow guns and spears during the prologue of his first movie.
Indeed they were so far from the run of the mill Hispanics that most Americans have come to know and depend upon that they even truly offended these stalwart if not exactly properly documented immigrants as well. Now these Jivaro types of which I am speaking were everywhere in Yucaipa but the greatest concentration was on and right around where poor Odd Charles had so long owned the house of which he was so proud. They had in quick order turned the area into a war zone of drugs, vandalism and general mayhem that made even the veteran sheriff deputies that Yucaipa rented from the nearby real town of San Bernardino reluctant to patrol in less than groups of five once the sun went down.  
Now all of this would have made a lesser man sell his house and join the fleeing multitudes but Odd Charles wouldn’t hear of that. Indeed it made him more resolved than ever that he would reverse all this urban decay by being the biggest holiday cheer leader ever. Since he was so obsessed with Christmas particularly he vowed to make 2012 the most spectacular Noel in human memory.
His not overly large front yard which was already crammed with every kind of Frosty, Grinch, Santa, elf or reindeer was joined that year by a light up nativity that was so full of rhinestones and blinking geegaws that it more resembled a Liberace concert than anything that may or may not have happened on the night of Jesus’ birth. He became the butt a million new jokes on account of this and the extra lights he then added to what was his already overdone dwelling earned him the new nickname “Clark Griswold Jr.”. Then as the final cherry on the top of this banana split of holiday excess he rented time on a local radio station so that cars could if they so desired tune to a certain station and hear upon their radios Christmas carols while driving by his house. In addition to all of this, this year he for the first time donned a Santa suit and served hot chocolate and candy canes to anyone who would accept them. While doing this he rang a large hand bell of the type that was once used to announce that school was starting while he bellowed out season greetings until his voice faded into a hoarse whisper.

Now all of this started promptly as it always had at midnight on Halloween night when a somewhat lesser version of this that he had put up for Halloween came down and twenty-four hours later it became nothing but Christmas at Odd Charles’s place clear to mid-January. Now all this did indeed again draw a crowd of a curious kind that year. Yet strangely the only people that came around now were what some of the other old timers in Yucaipa referred disparagingly to as “head hunters.”

At first Odd Charles thought that the free hot chocolate and candy canes were attracting them and of course he was right about all that because they did love them but what they seemed even more excited about were the lawn decorations themselves which they stared at and commented breathlessly about in what sounded like the clicking squeaks of bats to Odd Charles’s unlearned ears. Each night their numbers seemed to multiply and every last one of them seemed entranced by the twitching throbbing lights. They drooled on themselves as they gazed at them in complete adoration and Odd Charles took this as a kind of compliment.
 Odd Charles should have been taken aback the next night when all these same people and perhaps even more came bearing reed pan pipes and strange drums and percussion instruments of all kinds but he wasn’t. Indeed he was strangely complimented by it all. Thus it was that he accepted their musical offerings and the withering native dances that they did in time to his loud outdoor speakers which blasted Andy Williams, Nat King Cole, Perry Como and the Ray Coniff singers as they crooned beloved Christmas chestnuts.
 After getting used to the strange intermingling of all this Odd Charles became hopeful that he could lead them to a true understanding of the person who this holiday was being celebrated for. To try to show what a good sport about all this he was he joined in prancing and singing and ringing his hand bell merrily as he did so. Now all of this continued every night until December 21, and since every news source had been long harping and overplaying this so-called end of the world Odd Charles thought that he might pay it at least some lip service if only as an excuse to get in a word or two about his Jesus to these joyful and child like folks.

So it was as darkness came on blacker and more full of stars than Odd Charles had ever seen it before that he was indeed astonished by the crowd of so-called “headhunters” that gathered at his place at dusk. He guessed that it was because of the day that it was that they were done up in all kinds of strange native outfits. Several of them had on skull faced makeup and had giant feathered headdresses on and had bumpy knives stuck into their soiled canvas loincloths.
Still Odd Charles tried to deal with all this strangeness as best he could if only because he reasoned that so far he knew all these people to be good folks at heart who were probably just scared about all this end of the world hoopla. So Santa suit on and with bell in hand he went out onto his pulsating lawn which glowed and seemed like some combination of Coney Island and the Las Vegas strip. At first he waved and clanged the bell and did a merry little jig like he had been doing on previous nights only this time it seemed to have quite the opposite effect on the crowd. Out of nowhere they formed a circle around him that didn’t seem very friendly and before he could plan any strategy he felt rough fingers snatch at him and raise him above the throng as if he was crowd surfing at a rock and roll concert.
Seconds later he was placed on what was supposed to be Mrs. Claus’s cookie making table and was secured to it by crude hemp ropes. Terrified beyond all reason he tried to use logic to figure out what to do next but nothing came to him. The people he once thought were going to be his friends began to dance and chant and play shrill scary sounding music as if to mock his terror. Then those among them who were painted up as skulls started hovering over him flashing their strange knives with leering grins on their faces. Helpless he looked up at the stars which now seemed different somehow than they were last night. It was as if they had completely shifted positions if such a thing was even scientifically possible.
Then in the midst of chants older than so-called human history Odd Charles was reaped for his heart which he was shown still beating before he succumbed to a death he never could have ever quite imaged. As he died the last thing that he heard were these “neighbors” of his joyously cheering all that they had so carefully brought to transpire. Then something even more amazing than that happened as Odd Charles’s blood and organs were gathered by these same supplicants and then all of his yard decorations were anointed with them. Once this was accomplished the very night sky above them ruptured and formed a vast vortex. In its center beams of sickly shaded purple shot down from this maw and touched every blinking yard ornament there causing them to quiver as they did so. Seconds later as they took on an unholy life all of their own all the natives that had caused this to happen fell on their faces and started worshiping them. Then every blood stained Santa, Rudolph, Frosty and Holy Family member went shambling into the community to help establish the long prophesied new age.
An hour later after all of them were all gone and every last “headhunter”  had left too, a whimsical looking garden gnome began to stir in Odd Charles’s flower bed as well as a large ceramic frog, a plastic lawn flamingo and a very racist looking lawn jockey.
They gathered in a small huddle there and the lawn gnome who was obviously their leader said, “Let these flamboyant Christmas decorations and all the others like them everywhere on the Earth have their day oh my brothers. We will lurk in the shadows a little while longer. Let them do our dirty work for us and expunge these humans from the Earth. When that is accomplished we will then take the planet away from these vain and foolish creatures. That is only fair. After all we’ve been waiting to do this a lot longer than they have and in the final analysis that will account for who will truly rule the Earth in the end.”
The lawn jockey and the others all smiled and then returned to the dimness from which they had came where they once again patiently bided their time as only true conquerors can.

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