©2003 Sarah Premo
It’s only the measly size of my parent’s bedroom, but Pop says it’s a sound investment in our lives and it’ll protect us from becomin’ nuclear toast. Sometimes I wonder if any of us will have enough warnin’ to get to it, before bombs burst our homes into smitherines. Walter Cronkite says, “folks…it’s better to be safe than sorry.” I guess I agree with him; who could disagree with such a wise lookin’ fella.
I can’t help but picture a proud Commie fighter pilot smirking with an astute grin of satisfaction as he pushes the glitterin’ red button of fate on our home…435 Arling Street. These worrisome days have to be why some nerve racked blocked head invented the cigarette…to calm the nerves of seventeen year old fellas like me, obsessed with the threat of nuclear war. I didn’t used to smoke, until I started watchin’ the evenin’ news with Pop every night after dinner. Mom insists that smokin’ ain’t so healthy for a young boy like me. She pretends like this Cold War ain’t gettin’ to her, yet I see her stand outside on the backlit patio thumbin’ through her bouncy red curls, nervous as a dog that gets beaten by it’s owner everyday of it’s life. She don’t think I see her, but I do.
The whole reason I’m writin’ this is because people are just turnin’ into a buncha nervous madmen all of a sudden, buyin’ up bomb shelters like their goin’ outta style. Pop included. He just bought one last week over at Glen’s Glorious Bomb Shelter Outlet. I can’t believe how those capitalist phonies sell bomb shelters as if they’re on a car lot. It sickens the afternoon lunch in me to a wet gurgle…I hate that feeling like I
hate brussel sprouts. Well…if the government gave us camouflage house paint we’d surely follow their advice.
Now, as soon as Pop installed that shelter, the neighbors John and Donna had to come and investigate our government certified protection. I saw both of ‘em walkin’ over snoopy as ever. I was handin’ down toilet paper and bottled water to Pop when John said,
“Ah you finally got one of them shelters.” He had an ugly poop lookin’ mole on his chin…I got the willies all of a sudden.
“Yeah we did.” I answered him. I felt like askin’ him if he needed toilet paper for his chin, but I sorta just left Pop to answer his and Donna’s stupid questions.
I walked back towards the house to get me a glass of lemonade and to check and see if Walter Cronkite had any new news about Nikita Krushchev’s intentions with them bombs and all. I went and turned on the television then grabbed me that nice cold glass of lemonade then headed back to the den. There was Cronkite all talkin’ about an air raid in Levittown, Pennsylvania. How this one silly fella brought him and his family into their bomb shelter and then the neighbors tried to force their way into their shelter. Now this is the horrifyin’ part. That man was crazier than a bed bug cause he shot his neighbor and left him and his family outside their shelter while they was all safe in there.
That’s when I looked out the window and saw my own neighbors and hoped that Pop would never do that to John and Donna, even though they annoyed the hell outta me. Mom came out of her room, she’d been foldin’ the laundry. I think she saw my blank stare of worry as I looked out the back patio door. I sipped my lemonade and felt it clog at the lump in my throat.
“I heard that awful story,” Mom said. I turned around and saw her face as I swallowed the unclogged liquid.
“Don’t worry sweety, Pop and I would never do that to anyone,” she gently urged me. “All this is, is a scare and we gotta move on with our lives and live it the way we want to. God says there’s a time for everyone, so if it’s our time, then it’s our time.”
After Mom said that, I thought for a few moments, hearing the mumble of Cronkite’s voice behind my thoughts. Then I realized just how silly all this bomb shelter business was. Mom winked at me and grabbed a tray with glasses and the lemonade pitcher and carried it to the backyard. I saw Donna’s face light up when she saw my Mom with the tray of lemonade. Pop had finally gotten out of that shelter. I saw him with his straight faced expression wearin’ them thick rimmed black glasses with his black hair slicked back ever so neatly. Then there was John and well…his mole. I also figured there might not be too many more clear blue skied summer days. I better enjoy it. I hopped off the sofa and turned Cronkite off and headed out for a bike ride. I needed some air.