CHAPTER 5:
 
 
LEAVING THE BATTLE BEHIND
 
 
 
      Saying ‘good-byes’ was not one of Harold’s stronger character points. (Nor, for that matter, was his singing in the middle of the night.)
     “You almost forgot your CheeZits and chunkified peanut butter paste, Harry!”
     “Manna’o mahmo, momma,” Harold flustered as he quickly snatched the box of orange-colored crackers and peanut butter extract out of the daisy-print wallpaper pantry. He continued to survey the inside of the cupboard, “What’m I gonna do without’cha?”
     “Probably learn how to use proper English!”
     Harold meekly smiled in approval, “Yeah, mahmo…I knows whatta mean, me thinks…OURP!”
     “You are such a tutti-fruitti, Harry!” she bantered in return, then looked up the staircase, “I better go get your father out of bed. With you packing things up and leaving…well, it caused him to pick up some of his old habits, again.”
     “Really? Damn…” Harold regretfully rued as he thought about his father’s recent condition. He began to zone out, reminiscent of the event where he thought he was one of those superhero cartoon characters that he admired when he had nothing else better to daydream about, while sitting constipated over ‘ground zero’ in ‘Toiletville’, using his X-ray vision to peer through the ceramic-tiled wall at his father lying prostrate on the mattress, while listening to some alternative 40’s and 50’s music. (i.e. - That alt-40’s and 50’s music being the greatest glibs of Spike Jones, of course.) That music (?) had some sort of subconscious reversal on his father’s psychological disorder of inebriated post-surgical depression, though.
     “He’ll get over it. Don’t worry, Harry. The first time he gets back into the operating room after you’ve departed and successfully implants some new neuron tissue into the synaptic lobes in one of those experimental spider monkeys without the occasional slip, he will soon be back to normal, again.”
     “Down to a third of a fifth, maybe?”
     “I’m not sure if he can cut it that far, Harry. Before you know it, though; he’ll start replacing damaged cranium components into human subjects.”
     Harold was pretty impressed with his mother’s knowledge of her husband’s line of work, since she only graduated from the eleventh grade as a homemaker, gardener, cook and ironer. (She also moonlighted as a substitute teacher in quantum physics at the local community college.) “As soon as he breaks the shakes, I’ll send a note back to the high school reminding them that Dad can start looking after all of those serious head injuries and acute concussions on the sporting practice squads that always seem to appear at the beginning of the school year.”
     Harold’s mother started wagging her finger in the air, “That darned Coach Bleech is such a fusspucket! He’d keep all those young boys and girls out of the hospital if he would let them wear their protective head gear during full-tackle drills! At least while they’re playing those stupid exhibition games. Stymie…”
     Harold began scratching his scalp, “I wonder how I got so lucky?”
     Frida presented a grateful little grin, then wryly quipped, “I guess you were just born as a hardheaded baby, son!”
     Harold rapped his knuckles on his head a couple of volleys. Then he tried it again, only this time with his mouth open a little wider to try and attain the best echo from his orifice. This Cro-Magnon mating ritual lasted another twenty seconds, until his mother looked at the countertop clock.
     “Jeepers! It’s almost 4:30 in the morning, Harry! Aren’t you supposed to leave about now? You better get moving, corn nut!” she barked in a playful manner, then cupped her hands around her mouth and screamed up the stairwell, “FRED! FRED! ARE YOU DEAD?!? HARRY’S ABOUT READY TO LEAVE NOW! TAKE YOUR MORNING DRIZZLE and LET IT FLY, HONEY!”
     “DAMN IT to HELL…(hiccup)…shaken, not stirred,” Harold’s father dreamily mumbled as he threw the knotted-up sheets off of his naked body, then slowly stumbled and pined his way out of bed, “fubdubbin’ kids just don’t respect a man and his headbangin’ in the middle of the freakin’ night!”
     “You better go over your checklist, Harry. I’ll see what’s keeping him.”
     “Thank you, mom,” Harold mentioned as he began to look over his substance screed. Continuing, he mumbled forth, “Hmmmmmm…pink and green polka-dot suitcase filled with enough clothes for four-and-a-half days, toiletry bag containing all the essentials for a healthier, happier body…my favorite red couch pillow and the laundry bag full of my sweaty gym clothes and jock-locks. “Peee-yuuu-WEE!...I better wash them stinkbug catchers as soon as I get to school!” Harold occupied his time further by communicating with himself, “At least no panhandling maunderer will snatch’em while I’m out on the road or stopping to drain my skin flute at some road-side rest stop urinal. Dyoing-wingle-bingle-zippity-drippity-dwip-dwip-dwip-tinkle-linkle-tink-tink-tink…tee-hee!” He proceded to look at his reflection in the toaster, “I like making funny noises in the kitchen and standing here at almost 4:30 in the morning masterbating  my mind with some witless wonder…galoob-galoob-galoob-galoob-gayunch-quibity-fibity-d’PHOOOOOSH! Ahhhhh…better not forget the roll of double-sheeted (although, it phonetically sounded like something else) toilet paper for those ‘tummy-packin’ road apples’!” He looked up at the one water-stained ceiling tile, “Ga Ga Poon? If you’re up there watching me…I made sure that I didn’t forget some of that paper that you left behind. I’ll make sure that I put it to good use! You know, in case I don’t have any cash left, I’ll put your jar of emergency dill pickles in the glove compartment with my other E-mergency stuff. Let’s see…in case it gets cold, I’ve got my lumberjack shirt that Aunt Minnie made for me for my high school graduation, my BS (Battle Creek Snowstorms) letter jacket, and a safeguard pair of ‘Fruit of the Gloom’ underwear that I will stash under the passenger side car seat. Hmmmmph! What else? Oh, CRACKER YAKS! I almost forgot my lucky 8-ball and pool stick!” (i.e. - a shiny wooden rod that Harold manufactured in his seventh grade shop class; studded with his baby teeth that his mother had collected from the so-called “Toof Fairy” and stored them in a washed-out Gerber’s Baby Food jar as he was growing up. Instead of receiving money, Harold had decided to dowel them into his lucky pool stick for ‘The Pool Fairy’ to help him with those sticky finales at the Rack-It Club playoffs. It seemed to work, too. The only maintenance Harry had to provide was a nice wood polish and a good fluoride brushing.) Continuing to look over the inventory, Harold kept bantering about his checklist, “Trunk garbage…check! Uncle Froogle’s Recycled Motor Oil (a combination of drained sludge from small-engine mechanisms; such as weed eaters, lawn mowers, chain saws, dishwashers, washing machines, go-karts, electric table saws, drills, blowers, ceiling fans and blenders plus biodegradable cow guano and stockyard ear wax)…check! Three cases of this oil should fathom…at least ‘til I get through Indiana! JIMINY RICKETS…I almost forgot my soldering gun and wire, just in case I have to do some quickie engine repairs…”
     A somewhat bony man splotched with a few sun-baked freckles and skin spots stumbled down the stairs, humming something along with the Nervous Norvus tune, “…tooling’ down the highway doin’ seventy-nine, I’m a twin-pipe papa and I’m feelin’ fine…hey man, dig that…was that a red stop sign?” followed by the sound effects of a horrendous automobile accident in progress, then a short pause, “Slip the blood to me, Bud!”
 
 
 
 
     “Hey, dad? DAD?!? Down here…sounds like Doctor Demento’s on the radio, again.”
     “Hah? What? Who? Awwww…that’s not Dr. Deranged, son…it’s a 45 spinnin’ on the phonograph!” he grumbled correctly as he finally reached the kitchen floor. He rubbed some of the crusted sleep out of his eyes, then looked at the black and white checkered 1963 radio clock sitting by the oven, “Harry?!?”
     “What’s up, daddy-o?”
     “Did you remember to pack your mucky-catchers?”
     “Sure did! I even packed an emergency pair under the passenger seat. Hey, pops? Why’s the record on at 4:30 in the morning? Doesn’t mom get a hissy about that?”
     “It’s funny…and it makes me toot when I have to pee!”
     “Got it…”
     “She’s up, anyhow! Did you get all your body-toities?”
     “Hey, mom. Sure did! I think I got everything…toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, talcum powder, oleo…etcetera…check!”
     His mom snickered, “It’s called aloe, Harry.”
     “Doesn’t it work about the same?”
     “Maybe if you were a biscuit!”
     Harold deadpanned, “Or maybe even a big cream-cheese kolachi!”
     “Well, then…,” she paused, then took a gulp of fresh apple cider that was resting on the countertop, “I guess you’re ready to go, then.”
     Harold peered down at his fathers’ swollen feet, then quietly mentioned, “Oleo might help with your condition, Pop.”
     “At least it would help getting my shoes on!”
     Harold laughed softly, “Yes, sir…I guess it would.”
     Fred lifted his eyebrow, then motioned his finger toward Harold, “You know, you might want to swing by your Uncle Froogle’s house before you leave town, Harry.”
     “At this time in the morning?!?”
     “Hell…for Uncle Froogle, this is late!”
     “Gee-willikers! How did Aunt Penny do it after all these years?”
     “Two of a kind! Went to bed at sundown and got up before the roosters, just to make him some vittles…starting at 3:30 in the morning. I guess I should’ve brought them out with me more often on our dates, so I could try to liquor’em up a bit more! Oh, well…after his accident…well, he had trouble functioning normally anyway.”
     “And?”
     “Don’t you remember, Harry?” his mother interrupted.
     Harold strayed from the insignificant question at hand and looked down at his list resting in his hands, “SHIT! Sorry, I mean…DARN!”
     Fred poked his nose over his sons’ shoulder, “You actually gonna bring some shit, too? You gonna start some kind of tomato garden at your dorm? Or, are you really into something completely foreign to our family morals?”
     Harold rolled his eyes, while Frida shook her head.
     “Are you forgetting something that’s really important? Eh? You know, maybe Froogle had it coming during one of his episodes of mental lapses…but, you son?”
     “Aw, DAD! No…I almost forgot my ‘Whiz-O Ice Freeze’ glass from last night’s dinner! That reminds me…,” Harold searched around the corners of the kitchen, “BEER!!!”
     “More of that sarsaparilla, buddy? I have seen some of those special cases at the ‘Nut Club’ where some of those young patients were addicted to that cheap imitation soda pop,” his father seriously stated, then whimsically continued, “I think they mutated! Even Froogle kinda changed shape, I think.”
     “It’s called Happy Time Root Beer, daddy-oh! Ya know, the stuff that lumberjacks drink!”
     Hmph???
     “Like in the commercials!” Harold referenced, then sang a couple of bars to the ad tune, “SWING’em hard, cuts real deep…chop ‘til you shop, you’ll find the keep. Don’t be a girly, or squirm in fear…’cuz ‘JACKS are surly, without their Happy Time Root Beer!”
     Harold’s mom started to snicker, while his dad began to scratch his balls.
    “Never mind!” Harold fidgeted, “It wasn’t the root beer at the lake. It was that generic beer that Uncle Froogle use to bring with him on the camp outs. Now that stuff was potent! Citronella couldn’t hold a battalion of mosquitos like one of Froogle’s farts after he drank that crap!”
     “Yeah, son…I guess that stuff was pretty im’potent to your dear old uncle.”
     Making their way towards the garage via the pantry, Harold suddenly paused in mid-stride, “Well…” Harold hesitated, then looked back up at his father, “I guess it’s time to go now. I’d like to keep on chatting about the golden years at 4:30a.m.; but class registration won’t wait! I’ll be sure to write Uncle Froogle and Aunt Penny a letter when I get settled at the new school.”
     “They’ll appreciate that.”
      Harold’s mother suddenly ran back into the kitchen, “HARRY! Don’t forget your picnic basket full of your favorite plain yogurt. Just in case you can’t find some roadside truck stop to munch at…”
     “Mahno-mamma de’muckado-doo! Where am I gonna put it? Hmmmm? Oh, I know…I’ll just take out the spare tire and put the picnic basket in its place. If I happen to get a flat, then I can offer some of the stuff to a good Samaritan motorist that’s looking for some good will to hand out, or I can whip out Uncle Froogle’s ‘Blow-Out Buster’!”
     Standing around the heap of fribble, the interrelated trio anxiously fidgeted for a few moments while waiting for one of them to respond with some sort of departing reply or gesture. After standing around silent for another nineteen seconds, Harold’s father soulfully looked at his offspring and mentioned, “Son…just make sure that you get the best out of that athletic (hiccup) scholarship for that school you will be attending for the next six or seven years.”
     “C’mon, Pop…I know I can finish in four years.”
     Fred poked a glance at the garage ceiling, “Well, call me Walter Cronkite! If that comes to fruition, then some headlines will dress the Saturday Evening Post!”
     “He’s playing with ya, Harry.”
     “Yeah…I know, mom. Well…maybe in six years, then.”
     “Now you’re flirtin’ with reality!” Harold’s dad panned, then toned down, “Since I can’t help to support you in school too much…ugh…because of my…you know…ummm, my…”
     “I’ll get plenty of athletic supporters, dad,” Harry surmised, then put his hand on his fathers’ shoulder, “because a lot of the cronies at the Rack-It Club are behind me. Everything will be fine! It’s not like I have to worry about accidentally chopping through some fool’s cranial membrane cavity at the operating table, even though the relatives involved knew that it was unnecessary so that they could conjure up a class action suit to acquire a cash settlement, which inadvertently compromised our own family income for four years due to an unjustifiable malpractice and incompetence lawsuit. Look, dad…you’re pretty special for carrying all that weight on your pectorals. I sure hope that I never have to be in some fictionalized compromising position like that.”
     “Did I mention that my brother’s going to be fishing for some red herring this weekend?”
     “No…but, I’ll ask Uncle Froogle for some samples to send to me at the dorm!”
     Harold’s mom, Frida (maiden name: Beever), quickly intervened into the conversation, “You know how Uncle Red use to always preach to us when we were about to take a long trip out to Lake Powahahopo. He always blurted: ‘Take the road less traveled’! Why? Because ‘the road to HELL is straight and wide’, while the road to…”
     “T.I.T.T.I.E.S.!” Harold exclaimed, while pointing in the direction of his foreboding school.
     “…HEAVEN…is narrow and crooked.”
     The father produced a whimsical grin, “Heh-heh-heh…sounds like Ga Ga Poon’s breasts, Frida!”
     “Fred!”
     The middle-aged man began to converse in a less saturated manner, “The road less traveled, eh? Maybe brother Red should’ve practiced what he preached! I mean…wowzies…look at what a sex machine he became. Thirteen kids in thirteen years! Minnie should get her whole damn uterus tied into a knot!”
     Harold’s mom put her hand to her chin and thoughtfully parleyed, “Or…as she told me on the phone the other night…’I’ve got to remember to put a stop sign on the EXIT DOOR, also’! Oh, lordie me!”
     Fred shut one eye, then began to pirate, “Tie the wench over a barrel and git out me jar ah’ WHALE BLUBBER…”
     “Aye-aye, Captain…as soon as we port for…whatever,” Harold played along, then turned his attention to the matter at hand, “I’d rather not get too involved about ‘La Familia DiFornicatto’ at the moment. I really better get movin’…it’s a pretty long drive.”
     His father grinned, then acted like he just zipped his mouth shut, while Frida casually mentioned, “I’m sorry, Harry, for holding you up. We’ll be sure to write to you about all of it in our letters!”
     Harold nodded and smirked in approval, then started waving his hand, “Well…Dad…take good care of your liver. You ought to know that bile should last awhile…’cause if it doesn’t, then you won’t have very far to go. Right?!?”
     Harold’s father reached over and gave his son a hug and a slight peck on the cheek, “You crazy kid! Goo’ bye, Harry. Try to make some straight A’s…or, at least some crooked B’s!”
     “Son…we love you,” his mother confirmed, spearing her hand forth for a departing handshake, “take real good care of yourself, or someone else like you…Luke 6:31. Remember to give the game ball to somebody you really think very highly of and don’t forget to always stand with your right leg supporting you when facing a strong north wind.”
     “That’s nice, mom. Thank you.”
     “Keep in touch. Harry,” his mother requested as she peered at her visibly remorseful husband, “your father has a good heart. Even if he carries a little bit of camouflaged baggage, I know he’s going to miss watching some of those old Rifleman reruns with you before breakfast time.”
     “Okay…I know…” Harold affirmed as his visual sockets began to soil. He hesitatingly threw the rest of his belongings into the back seat of the car, jumped into the old derelictobile and forthrightly left the scene of his rearing. The family dog, a purebred mix of Afghan-Beagle-Dalmatian-Dachshund-Rottweiler-Shih’Tzu descent named ‘Dingleberry’, wriggled under the back yard fence hole and chased after the departing vehicle valiantly, until it started choking and wheezing, then abruptly fainted from the asphyxiating exhaust fumes that belched from Uncle Froogle’s aluminum-foiled headers epoxy-layered with recycled gaskets created from an assortment of gauze wrapping, scraped fish scales and latex paint scum…
     An hour had almost passed since Harold left his beloved home town of-
 
***PREREQUISITE QUESTION for FORTHCOMING POP QUIZ:
 
Where?
 
 
 
 
d Credits: The Smithereens, “House We Used to Live In” (P. diNizio)>
Song: Ch.5-1
End: Chap. 5