I envy Jack Coffee. There are so many pictures of him on Facebook; with a warm cup of coffee and his smiling kids and grandkids splayed out in a window’s sunshine on top of vacuumed sofas. His job, being so much in the right industry—of crime solving. I would be him if I could, but I missed my window. I guess we all miss so many windows and endure being middle aged, lost, but we breath and push along, watch, and restrain our suppressed urges. I know I have always been a rock star, just never had the desire to go to L.A. or New York for any of it.
I made it back in time, my blue socks covered in those sticky stickers. I just tossed them in the trash, too old to pick off thirty-four sticky stickers. I went back to my portrait of Rose. My brush still soaked with parchment colored oil paint for her sclera. From a distance, the folk band’s insolent noise still echoed in the darkness over the rooftops. I could see the Ferris wheel lights glittering through the branches of the towering Cypress trees. I could almost whiff her stench in the south Florida citrus breeze. As her remains remained slumped on the highest capsule and I unplugged the blue cable which is behind two unlocked boxes. I used to work that old Ferris wheel before my art started to sell. Now I am above every working stiff; I paint what I please and when I please.
I had to fill up the tires on my father’s old Malibu Hopper. I was live streaming over the internet, my painting of a monster—emulating one of William Blake’s demons for Jake’s parents. Behind that canvas, another wet one, a homage posthumously to Rose—her portrait staring out at my hungry hands.
I climbed the rooftop and smoked pot out of a crunched Coke can. I had papers, bongs, and brownie mix, but I do things as a child. The roof air was cold and stunk of grapefruit guts. I remembered thinking here we go! The Ferris wheel moved and took my black socket angle back down from the clouds. I left her blue eyes hallowed out and she looked like a hippie in a pair of Bob Dylan sunglasses. A slumped over hippie talking to my Icarus flopping around her like an idiot, circling, with his waxed wings and overzealous plans. Why didn’t the real Icarus and his father just fly at night? My Icarus always flies at night.
The bass guitarist slapped his wobbly strings and the vocalist sung average, barely covering her notes. And it stopped. The chorus of screams scattered in the breeze. That cool citrus breeze that delivered all of my screams. Icarus’s dirty feet hovered several feet above my head and I could see the rainbow to the Ferris wheel form, so vibrant against the darkness. I peddled to the oak tree at the end of my street. I undressed and stood in the shadow, vulnerable, and free.
It took three minutes and I watched Jack Coffee’s black Buggy fly by. He, being so brilliant could have noticed me naked standing by the road, but he didn’t, which gave me obscene confidence. I had to see him work despite the enormous risk of leaving Jake cinder blocked to the bottom of my pool. He served swell; wearing my painting coat and Panama Jack hat with dire instructions to paint flowers that encircled the monster and to never turn around and show his face to my web cam. His tragic suicide aimed to be at the bottom of a manmade pond in the nature reserve of an elementary school a few hundred yards north of his swimming head.
I peddled fast. The sirens and noxious light bars blinded and deafened me. It was just one corpse, do we really need three fire trucks, two ambulances, and several cop cars? I peddled to the ticket gate, and nobody stood to take my ticket. I didn’t have any. I saw the silhouette of John Coffee duck under the yellow crime tape. It would be moments before he saw my work. The others; he may never, but this time, I left it out in the open. And it would stimulate his mind like non-physical intercourse.
He kneeled and examined her body. Her arm hung out like a vinyl doll’s. He beamed his flashlight all over her like a bar of soap smearing the dirty and naked. He found several sticky stickers and a smudge of ultramarine blue oil paint, not the oil paint from a hardware store, but the oil paint cut with Linseed oil, that you would find in an art store.
“Are there any patches of woods around here?” John Coffee said.
“Yes detective, on the north side of the church,” an officer said.
“Let’s go,” Coffee said.
He found my dark green trailhead and walked through it; a maze walled with wooden fences and citrus trees.
“I see broken branches and fresh footsteps, call in the K-9 unit,” Coffee said.
That Damn Beagle had a genius nose. She could smell my Linseed oil through the elephant ears and popcorn. She led several men through my childhood path and right to my backyard. They opened the gate and my Uncle Ken walked out on the back porch.
“What is going on?” Uncle Ken said.
Three beams of flash lights hit his eyes, blinding him, he said, “Stop it.”
“A young lady had been murdered at the carnival and our scent dog led us here,” Coffee said.
“Oh my God,” Uncle Ken said.
“Are you an artist?” Coffee said.
“No, my nephew paints…why?” he said.
“Oil paints?” Coffee said
“Yes,” he said.
“Where is your nephew?” Coffee said.
“Upstairs in his bedroom,” Uncle said.
But I wasn’t. I hadn’t been in my bedroom since lunch. My uncle lived in his garage with his stupid model train set. He never knew where I was. And Coffee and his men rummaged through my drawers and closet. My uncle watched.
“Do you have any idea where he might be?”
“He could be at his friend’s house,” Uncle Ken said. “His friend, Jake’s”
Jack Coffee stood at my west side bedroom window. He was no longer on the balls of his feet, but flat footed and content. His muscles sagged and he stood there almost with disappointment. He looked at Uncle Ken and pointed.
“Is that Jake’s house,” Coffee said.
“Yes,” Uncle Ken said.
Both men stood shoulder to shoulder and looked out. The elementary school lights poured yellow over a wide canopy of banana trees. In spots of light, Possum’s with candle lit eyes moved their kids to fresh shadows. And lower, an emerald green swimming pool, and in the deep end, Jake’s swimming head, still as the moon, two feet under the surface.
“Oh my God, Chris!” Uncle Ken said.
“I don’t think that is Chris,” Coffee said.
“Why not?” Uncle Ken said.
“Do you have a current picture of your nephew?” Coffee said
“I do but we need to get down there and get to that swimming pool and pull him out,” Uncle said.
John Coffee lifted his index finger and curled it like a dancing worm instructing Uncle Ken to come closer. John pulled the drape back and pointed to the pool.
“I think that is Jake in the pool and I think that is your nephew,” Coffee said.
Uncle Ken followed the tip of his finger as it left the pool area and found me on the rooftop, staring back. They both saw my naked silhouette, still as the moon, still as Jake’s submerged melon, and I, naked as the day I was born, cracking up laughing like I never laughed before.