Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nightmare in Perspective

What need have you to dread
The monstrous crying of the wind?

That line from a poem by Yates had run through Jax's head several times and finally he'd said it out loud, quoted it in anger to his ward, his six-year-old half brother. Nightmares, for God's sake! couldn't Jordy see them for what they were? Just the random firing of neurons, the human brain unwinding before finally descending into deep sleep.

Jax, on the other hand, had plenty of reason to dread the wind which could scoop up roof tiles and scatter them all over the yard, break off tree branches and drop them with a tremendous thud on top of his new flatbed truck. That wasn't what Jordy worried about though. To Jordy the wind was some kind of invisible monster out to get him, a murderous beast with icicle teeth and a tongue made of fog that wrapped itself around you, lifting you up and carrying you off to live forever and alone in a tower by the sunless sea.

That poem of Yates' had been told to Jax by his new girlfriend, Bryn who'd studied literature in college and was sexy in an odd sort of way with her thick dark hair that formed its own ringlets without her having to mess with it. She was somewhat skinnier than he generally preferred but her lips were full and sensual. She had these weird kind of slanty eyebrows and eyes that were blue but such a dark blue that they seemed almost black at times. He'd been making love to her for the first time when Jordy'd woken up and screamed that the wind monster was trying to kill him. "Go to him," Bryn had said and Jax had done that with resentment steaming out of his ears. Jordy had been sitting up in bed, strands of his tawny hair sticking up like wheat straws and his blue eyes wide with terror. "There are no goddamn wind monsters, Jordy," Jax had hissed and his little brother had stared at him in shocked astonishment. Then he'd started crying, softly at first and then not so softly and Jax had understood that his night of lovemaking was ruined by the hysterical imagination of a child he'd been more or less bullied into taking custody of.

After that, he and Bryn had gotten it on during their lunch hour. They worked for the same local newspaper -- he as an in-house computer technician and she in the art department. Their tryst had taken place at his house and afterwards while he was in the bathroom, Bryn had gone into Jordy's room and put something that looked like a pale-colored shell or stone in the center of his pillow. "What's that? Some kind of  magical witch trinket?"he'd asked but Bryn had laughed at him. "There's no such thing as magic, silly," she'd said. Then, since they were already five minutes late, they'd rushed out to his truck and driven off to work.

Jax had ended up with Jordy after their dad and Jordy's mother, Marianne, had gotten themselves killed in a car accident. He'd been twenty-two when it all happened, fresh out of college and had just landed the job at the newspaper. Jordy had been almost five. "We can put him in foster care," the social worker had said, "but he'd be much happier living with someone he's related to." Jordy was in school all day and in day care til six after that. Jax had even arranged to have Jordy baby sat during part of the weekend. Still, it wasn't easy and Jax found himself cursing whatever gods or agents of fate had stuck him with the burden of parenthood before he was done sowing his proverbial wild oats.  Fortunately Jordy played by himself a lot, making up pretend games or drawing with colored pencils which left Jack free to surf the Internet, watch TV or do repair work on the duplex they lived in. The main problem was the nightmares which interrupted his sleep and, more importantly, his sex life.

However, one morning, after a very windy night, Jax woke up and, as he was showering, realized that Jordy had slept through the entire night without waking even once.

"So I guess you finally wised up and realized there's no such thing as a wind monster," Jax said, shaking cocoa puffs into Jordy's bowl.

Jordy said nothing, just accepted the bowl of cereal his brother handed him.

"You hear me?" Jax prompted. Sometimes Jordy's preference for disregarding attempts at conversation seemed openly disrespectful.

"The wind monster's still alive," Jordy said, "it just can't hurt me anymore."

"Oh yeah, why's that?"

"Because the faeries protect me."

Jax stared at his little brother for a moment. Jordy sure was different from the way Jax had been when he was a kid. Probably the result of Marianne's genes.  She'd  been into some kind of art -- sculpture maybe. "Whatever," Jax said and reached over to turn on the TV.

After Jordy's nightmares stopped, Jax, once again, began to invite Bryn over to spend the night. He never asked her to come for dinner because he didn't want her getting ideas about marriage and becoming a stepmother for Jordy. Right now, good sex was mainly what he was after. Commitment could come later, if it came at all. Bryn didn't own a car so Jax had to transport her which meant leaving Jordy alone in the house for about twenty to twenty-five minutes, something the social worker had said was a no-no. But, twenty measly minutes? How could that possibly matter unless there were pedophiles lurking around the house which Jax was almost one hundred percent sure there weren't.

After about a week of nocturnal lovemaking, Jax noticed that Bryn always went into Jordy's room before he drove her home. "You got a thing for kids?" he'd asked, leaning against the door jamb and jiggling his car keys in the pocket of his jeans to demonstrate his impatience. Bryn didn't answer but  she smiled at him so beguilingly that he'd gone over and kissed her on her soft sensual mouth. That mouth of hers; it more than compensated for her breasts which were on the small side, though nicely shaped. "Mini-melons," he'd called them once, but Bryn had frowned and said nothing -- too embarrassed maybe. After that, Jax was careful not to offend her. He wasn't ready to break up just yet -- not until he'd enjoyed some more of those sweet lips.

Spring turned to summer and Jax sent Jordy to day camp. After about a week one of the counselors took Jax aside and told him she was concerned because Jordy tended to go off by himself and play pretend games instead of participating in the various camp activities.

Jax shrugged. "Well, he's never been much of a joiner."

"Do you think he still misses his mother and father? the counselor persisted.

"Yeah, I guess," Jax conceded. In truth he had no idea what Jordy thought or felt; he was too busy with his own life and, frankly, the kid seemed to like hanging out by himself.

 "Have you considered taking him to a therapist?" the counselor asked.

Jax felt himself becoming annoyed. "Done that already," he said, "Jordy wouldn't talk to him so we quit." As he walked away, Jax thought he could feel the counselor scowling at his retreating back. "Fucking do-gooder," he muttered under his breath.

"Do you still miss Mom and Dad?" Jax made himself ask during a dinner of pepperoni pizza and tossed salad.

"I miss them," Jordy said slowly. "But I have a new family now."

"Good," said Jax and helped himself to a third slice of pizza and a can of beer.

In late June, Bryn announced she was quitting her job at the newspaper. "And going where?" Jax asked. He felt petulant over the fact that she could apparently walk away from their relationship so easily. "Home," was Bryn's response. "And where's home?" Jax realized he knew very little about her except for the intimate details of her anatomy. "Far from here," Bryn said and she smiled in a secretive way that exacerbated Jax's annoyance but he was damned if he'd let her think he gave a shit. "Well, bon voyage," he said, smiling painfully, and proceeded to saunter off.

About a week after Bryn left, Jordy disappeared, wandered off apparently while he was at camp. "He was over by the brook one minute and the next minute he was gone," wailed the counselor who'd been in charge of Jordy's group. A police search of the camp's perimeters yielded no results.

Jax was more distraught than he'd ever been in his life, more upset than when his dad and Marianne had died, more upset even than when he was fourteen and his mom and dad had gotten divorced. He felt guilty, too, because he knew he'd never even tried to be like a dad to his eccentric little half-brother. He wished Bryn was still around to distract him with her mass of dark hair and her warm, soft lips. Thinking of Bryn he remembered how she'd always gone into Jordy's room and the thought entered his mind that perhaps she'd secretly wanted a child so badly she'd actually kidnapped Jordy and taken him to wherever it was she lived. Should he mention this possibility to the police? Or was it just a crazy notion, a wild accusation he'd live to regret?

A few days later, Jax did tell the police and it turned out that Bryn must have been using an alias along with a fake social security number because there wasn't a single shred of evidence that she existed anywhere on the planet.

After all the furor over Jordy's disappearance had died down and the police quit looking for him, Jax decided to sell his house because living there and passing that empty bedroom every day seemed just plain morbid. As he was packing up the stuff in his bedroom, he discovered a book of poems by William Butler Yates, the same book Bryn had quoted from the very first night they'd had sex. Leafing through the book, he found the poem. It was entitled "A Child Dancing in the Wind." Jax had never paid much attention to poetry unless compelled, academically, to do so but now he studied the poem:

Dance there upon the shore;
What need have you to care
For wind or winter's roar?
And tumble out your hair
That the salt drops have wet;
Being young you have not known
The fool's triumph, nor yet
Love lost as soon as won,
Nor the best labourer dead
And all the sheaves to bind,
What need have you to dread
The monstrous crying of the wind?

It seemed to Jax he gotten the meaning of the last two lines wrong. Yates wasn't putting the kid down for being too young and stupid to understand real danger and real sorrow. Yates was saying that little kids shouldn't have to experience horrible things, little kids should be free to dance in the wind and let their hair go all wet and wild like the kid in the poem.

Bryn had understood the poem's meaning, of course. probably she'd understood what Jordy was going through, too -- better than Jax had anyway, a lot better. He hoped she really had kidnapped Jordy. The kid would be a lot better off with Bryn. Whoever and whatever she was.



  1. Wow! Great story! Thanks for posting it.

  2. Really enjoyed reading this story ... the mystery is so beautifully built


  3. a play on the legend that fairies steal children?

  4. Nicely done. I feel Jordy is safe, enjoying the wind and loved. ♥

  5. I enjoyed this - left me feeling slightly unsettled at the end. Nice work!

  6. I like the uncertainty. I'm going to believe that Jordy is safe and happy--freer than he's ever been--but like that you left a certain amount to reader perception.