I can’t remember what kind of night I had experienced, but it was a very wet morning. The sun was streaming though the ragged palmetto scrubs and huge live oak trees. It’s Florida’s version of spring, or maybe autumn, and the oak trees were shedding their leaves, turning the sky into a giant blender of small, brown and yellow twirling ovals. It was, perhaps, the first time I have ever awakened in a neighbor’s swimming pool. My body’s alcohol content must have been ridiculously high, because I floated easily in the over-chlorinated pool. I heard a rasping noise that seemed to be coming out of my own head, like Darth Vader with a sore throat. I moved my head and felt pressure around my ears and my hair. I stretched both arms forward and grasped only water; I was belly down in the pool. How was I breathing? I reached up and touched a plastic cylinder that seemed to be coming out of the side of my head, and then I realized that a snorkel had been duct-taped to my noggin to keep me oxygenated as I floated in the leaf-covered water, like a bloated fish carcass on a red tide. And that is how I started my day.
There was an eight foot tall cedar fence surrounding the yard, making it difficult for almost anyone to get in or out of the backyard. Luckily, I was wearing my Spiderman boxer shorts and I was able to scale the wooden perimeter with little difficulty. The concrete sidewalk scorched my bare feet as I walked the half mile to my house. I had no keys, no identification, and no shirt and shoes. My only hope of getting inside the house would be the possibility that I hadn’t locked the door the night before. I arrived at my house and, as luck would have it, the front door had been completely removed. I walked inside my humble abode, hoping for the best, but fearing the worst.
There were about seven or eight strangely-dressed people sitting around a campfire in the middle of the living room. They looked a little like hippies, but more like Steve Tyler. They all seemed to know me, and nodded their hellos as I walked into the room. It appeared as if I had befriended a band of gypsies the night before and had completely blocked it out of my mind in the pre-dawn hours of semi-consciousness. The missing front door was being used as the bottom of a fire pit surrounded by our best china. At least they were protecting the carpet. The huge blaze rose several feet in the air and appeared to be fueled by books by Kurt Vonnegut and Chuck Palahniuk. I had a book by Dennis Miller. Why couldn’t they have torched that shit?
Both cats and the bird were missing, and I hoped that they had escaped before the gypsies had cooked breakfast. My Lou Reed album was on, and he was taking a walk on the wild side. It’s okay to sing about that stuff, but it was something else, indeed, to come home to it. A gypsy girl offered me a joint, but I declined, not sure if there was any food left if I should get a major case of the munchies. Even in my beleaguered condition I was thinking ahead. And then the phone rang.
“Hello? Oh, hi, honey! Oh, we’re all doing fine. The pets? Haven’t seen them – they must be napping. The noise? What noise? Oh, I think someone’s at the door. Gotta run… Talk to you later.” And then I hung up. I walked back into the living room and sat down next to a gypsy who looked like an emaciated version of Jerry Garcia. “What happened last night?” I asked him.
“I recall very little,” he replied,” but you handled yourself very well with the sheriffs. You were very professional. As a matter of fact, other than spinning your bird around in circles on the microwave dish, you were certainly more under control than the rest of us.”
“I put the bird in the microwave?” I shouted.
“Relax, dude, you broke that machine hours before you put Jade inside. There are no microwaves or any other kind of waves, but the little glass plate spins around just fine. She’s probably still there. I think Jade really likes it; her own personal merry-go-round!”
The smoke was getting thicker as they put more books onto the growing fire. Hermann Hesse, Willa Cather, and Tom Robbins. All gone. I put my head in my hands, being careful not to upset the snorkel, and asked the crucial question. “Where did I meet you guys?”
“You kind of stumbled upon us in the middle of the night. The door was already off, so you just walked into our house here.”
So endeth the third day without my wife’s supervision.