Friday, June 20, 2008

The Very Paradoxical Dal Falwell, Troublemaker, Esq.

Dal Falwell liked to stir things up, mix things up. Cause trouble. You know the type -- a mixer and a troublemaker. And he was good at it, even though he called himself a Christian, which to Dal's mind certainly wasn't a disqualifier. Dal even credited his faith with his devious streak, the freedom he had to do outrageous things without feeling any guilt or batting an eye later, if someone tried to call him on it, because he knew that God loved him and forgave him. And, it was the blacks and Hispanics causing all the crimes anyway, as the newspapers, which nobody reads anymore will tell you day in and day out. Dal felt no guilt for shaking up the rest of the world, testing the meddle of people, because he knew that he was salt, and salt flavored the earth, and Jesus had wiped the slate clean, and did it every day. For this reason Dal had a little capital to burn that others in the neighborhood who didn't go to church didn't have. "You, baby," Dal said almost every morning in the mirror in the foyer, before he blew up the rubber doll to sit beside him in his car on the passenger's side so he could ride in the carpool lane during rush hour without the fear of being stopped, "are the slickest of the slick. A sheep in wolves' clothing. The salt of the earth. A Christioni. The Christman. Constantine the second."

Dal liked playing with words, amost as much as he liked playing with the heads of the people in his suburban neighborhood, especially the very stoic, somewhat hateful couple and their gangly, four-eyed son who lived across the street. As far as Dal was concerned everyone was fair game, especially those people whom he and God did not like, and every day was like Halloween, "open season on all the dumbasses, all the time, twenty-four, seven."

Fortunately for Dal, the man of the house across the street, a stern, soft-spoken man who washed his cars religiously every weekend, rain, sun, snow, shine, hail, freezing rain, strong wind ... knew that Dal was a Christian, or must be, because Dal made sure that the man across the street saw him in his Sunday clothes when he got home from church. Sometimes, Dal would wait to get out of the car, even if it was boiling hot outside, just so that Dal could show the man across the street that Dal went to church. Although, some Sundays Dal had the gumption to wear overalls and suspenders to church, largely to throw off the deacons, especially the chairman of the board of deacons who wanted Dal to be "at least an usher" since Dal so regularly attended with his family and gave to good causes, as the bumper stickers on Dal's bumpers clearly revealed.

So the stage was set for Dal to stand out in his front yard on his curb ... and wait for his prey, the lady across the street (Dal didn't know her name or anyone else's), who always came outside to check the mail and turn her sprinkler on around ten a.m. every day from late spring till Labor Day. It had been set when the woman across the street ventured onto his property and then blew the whistle on a non-problem. The nerve! This was a brilliant scheme, and Dal was so delirious with anticipation and being on the verge of cracking up with hysterical laughter, that he was shaking when he got outside and began eyeing the spot where he would stand. And right at ten o' clock ... here came "what's her name." To appreciate this pastiche, this mini-grotesque fully, we must back up and give you, the reader, "the sucker," as we like to call readers in the publishing biz these days, a little back story.

Dal's anger had been stoked toward the family, especially the woman, because when Dal and his family had gotten home from a vacation, there had been a notice taped to his door, a citation from the township in which he lived, for emptying raw sewage, "blackwater" into a public stream, which was not only against the county laws ... but could become a federal offense, if it was not corrected satisfactorily.

Dal had no intention of paying three grand for a new septic system, so he had used a tiller to create his own leach pit, where everything naturally settled into the ground. He just had to hit it with lime every once in a while to keep down the smell, which the neighbors had never complained about, not officially, but often turned their noses up at him when they saw him and the air was smelly. So there was some mystery, for a while, as to who had dared to cross him. Dal didn't like speaking to the neighbors, but he would if circumstances demanded it. This was just such an occasion. Dal had been livid, and became more so after calling the town and getting a new environmental inspector, who sounded like some dumb rich kid, whose daddy had connections, and who had threatened Dal, because the aggressive punk didn't know what he was talking about. The town was having to pay $150,000 to the state, a portion of which presumably went to Washington, every time it had to dump untreated wastewater into the river. Because the hilly community in which Dal lived had been built on rock, with a lot of rocks mixed into the soil, the town had no other option but to dump the community's waste into the river. The ground was not conducive to sewers or septic tanks, even though developers and builders were doing big business buying land and building and selling homes, before a threatened moratorium kicked in. Or might kick in. Where money doesn't talk, things like home improvements spoke volumes and argued in favor of friends long after they'd stopped being friends.

Dal resented paying taxes which was only literally going to be pissed into the river, because the town's founders had been so stupid as to build their town and all their Mock Tudor houses upon the solid rock. Sand would have been better, at least it would absorb everything and send all the shit and death and decayed material down to the center of the earth, where nature took over and turned in into a very valuable commodity. Dal, who had been a C student in college, recognized this as a paradox, the only one he had ever discovered for himself. But there were others.

The Crowleys were actually from Florida, Daytona Beach, but Dal didn't know any of that. But now they lived a little further north, which had been their goal, moving into Dal's upper-middle class neighborhood in 1988, because Alexander, the husband and father, had worked hard to become a systems analyst, a data processor, a troubleshooter of failed systems, a man whom Dal thought was probably going to hell because he never went to church, unlike Dal, and he had made his cars -- and they were nice, to be sure -- out to be idols, like they had some kind of magical power, or something. But it was Dal who had the power. The power of healing and cursing. He could pray you sick or well, whichever he and God decided you ought to be. And so, Dal didn't think God minded him playing with the minds of the hateful neighbors, which included all of them, because Dal never saw any of them going to church, and two houses didn't even cut their lights on for Halloween. Nor have a tree in the window at Christmas. They were a weird family, across the street, in the sense that you never saw the kid, who a human version of Big Bird, Dal thought, except he didn't have a beak, any feathers or big orange feet. But everything else screamed Big Bird about this kid, who looked emaciated, probably due to abuse, Dal reasoned. The parents never spoke, leaving no uncertain impression that they hated Dal because he let his dog run in their yard.

For this reason, Dal was almost glad he had septic tank problems; one summer he actually dug a trench to reach the ditch which went under the street through a big concrete pipe and down onto the Crowleys' property in the form of a meandering stream.

The woman was not only hateful, but she was ugly-ish, a little butch, but with a nice ass. She kept her hair very short, which actually turned Dal on. He imagined enjoying her, and seeing the shock on her face when he was so much better and bigger than her husband. When the lady, who was about 45 then, was making her approach on this particular mid-summer morning, Dal was ready. There were two big oak trees in Dal's front yard, both adjacent precisely to the location of the mailbox of the family across the street. After the lady closed the mailbox ... Dal stepped out, having first taken all the steps to set loose the mourning bishop. Dal knew she must have seen one before, but this would shock her to no end. And then what was she going to do with the information? Try to keep the impressive image out of her mind? Tell her husband? This was where she would make her mistake; this was where the lady across the street would step right into it, and Dal could just watch.

Dal went to church and wore suspenders. Dal walked with a limp sometimes when he walked the dog. Dal wasn't retirement age, but when his pension had kicked in, he took it so he wouldn't lose it. He was a retiree, for crying out loud. Men don't think of other men as wanting to sex up their wives, unless a man is overt, especially if he's retired. Women will flirt and talk about sex, and act catty and bitchy, and tell everyone who's getting what from whom, but men as a rule aren't interested. And men have much more friction between themselves and their wives than they would ever have with another man, at least once they've reached a certain age. Men and women were made to fight, were made to distrust one another, which gave Dal the perfect atmosphere in which to stir a little alchemy, and then sit back and watch the fireworks, which could come in any number of forms. Unexpectedly. This would teach this woman, whom a neighbor said had been sneaking around Dal's house while the family was on vacation. She would carry this horny little act on Dal's part to her grave.

It was no coincidence, then, that the town had cited Dal, which could only have been made possible if someone had ratted him out ... and the only logical person that this could be ... was this woman, who hated him and his dog, and onto whose property Dal's sewage meandered, if he was lucky. It was she, who actually had possessed enough gall to drop a single-serving potato chip bag in his backyard, munching while she was snooping, which Dal had found and nailed to a tree in his backyard, making sure the people across the street could see it.

Looking both ways to be sure no cars were approaching, Dal just stood there, with his hands by his side. Letting her take it all in, letting it blow her mind. The woman looked, gave Dal a strange look, then looked back over her shoulder twice, because stopping in her carport, with her mail in one hand, with both hands on her hips. And she shifted her weight, and just stood there. And Dal wasn't moving either. This, he thought, could get interesting. Because Dal had taken early retirement, and stayed home while his wife worked as a signalman in the rail yard, he had access to all the women in the neighborhood before their husbands and boyfriends got home from work. If this worked ... if this brought the desired effect he was hoping for, which could be any number of cominbations of things, this little escapade could result in a trend. And because Dal was such a good liar, and lied fearlessly, like a polished attorney or actor, and realized that he would never get caught, even as he was in the process of trying to ruin the marriages of every neighbor couple he did like, it was something that he could deny, even over a beer. And another man would believe him.

Meanwhile, the weird little dork of a husband would have his mind filled with all sorts of images, ones which he had never entertained, and never dreamed he ever would. Images of his wife in all sorts of compromising positions, with another married man. Flaunting her repressed sexuality in her little husband's face. It all came down to human nature. And the dorky man wouldn't believe that Dal had done any such thing, because Dal would act as if nothing had happened, which might drive the lady crazy, because she will have known, she would be willing to swear she had seen what she saw. So, she would think maybe she was going crazy. And, she might also become lusty, and this presented Dal with ideas and schemes which far beyond flashing a woman ... in a way that would get her in trouble and raise suspicions. She ought to have known better that to mess with Dal Falwell.

Of course, the lady across the street would have done nothing but see the bishop. And she would say so to her husband, who would laugh and then become incredulous, and then suspicious, and she would have to defend herself against her own implausible report and explanation, even though she had been a victim, too. And then the husband would imagine more men. Maybe it wasn't the guy across the street, who was a Christian and who went to church, but maybe it was the men who did his lawn, and his wife had a guilty conscience, but she like it to much finally to admit it. Maybe the men took turns, maybe they laughed at her, and tied her up, because she liked it. Maybe they took photographs and put them on the Internet. Maybe she was doing three-ways, like a common animal.

Dal knew that no man, who is a dork, and marries a dorky woman, would ever suspect her to cheat on him, and, cheating on her would never cross his mind, because he was lucky to be getting laid, having been lucky to get married in the first place. But dorkiness and nerdyness did not eliminate people from the game of sex, the most beautiful thing in the world, which could be turned into a time bomb by either gender in any number of destructive ways, depending on how the dirty thing was introduced into the mix. Dal, having been a jealous husband all his life, knew that sexual suspicions between a man and woman would destroy a relationship, even if nothing of substance had ever transpired. And it was a slow, insidious, cancer-like burning. He doubted very seriously that there had ever been sexual suspicion across the street. Such thoughts were nil, had been nil and would continue to be, because they never went anywhere or did anything, but garden, wash their cars, and give Dal dirty looks because his dog liked to shit in their yard. But Dal would change all that. "It's organic, for crying out loud. You'd better be glad it's not me over there crapping in your yard."

Dal didn't intend to be the only person who had to suffer with jealousy, the most elusive of all sins, to have or to incite, or to make someone pay for, because it could spring from nothing and remain nothing, but burn like a torched oil refinery for days, weeks, forever. Jealousy was very much like fire, which raced in the wind, leaping from place to place, relentless, reappearing when you thought the fire is out, smouldering, only to appear again to burn down your home when you thought it was safe to leave ... but it wasn't.

The woman across the street did not move. And Dal was puzzled. Was she waiting for him to proposition her? Was she waiting for him to say something, anything, so that she could turn and let him have it? Was she smiling, or perhaps crying? Maybe she was breathing hard, maybe her heart was pounding, maybe she had a heart condition. Without realizing, Dal was now fully erect, and the head of his penis was glistening in the sunlight. The woman cleared her throat, and then did something strange: she bent over as if to tie a shoelace, but she was wearing loafers. She had nice looking ankles, nice legs, and a sweet rump. She was either engaged in some love ritual, which might have primordial origins, or she was disrespecting him. She was either showing her tail because she wanted some, or because she thought he wanted some, when he really didn't, or because she was mad, or because she was conflicted and didn't know what to do. Dal was so excited about the shock waves he was obviously putting through this woman's mind, that he could see his pulse registering in his taut penis. The thing would leap each time his heart beat. The woman stood up. But still she did not move. Dal had to say something. "Call me," he said finally, holding back his laughter. She still didn't move. I'm in the book. Call me. You know you want it."

With that the woman across the street, without looking back, strode into her garage and hit the button to electrically close the door. Dal immediately zipped up his pants, seeing a car coming in the distance, and managed to catch a large portion of his foreskin in his zipper.