There’s A Dark Side
By Mike M.
"Going to the Moon was our greatest achievement. It serves as a bright, shining light in the tunnel of history. Of course, there's a dark side." Neil Armstrong
Hey ya know? Some things just don’t leave you…
An interesting tidbit on the very day that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon?
This was '69. I was barely seven years old.
I was happily watching Capt. America and Submariner cartoons on our Philco TV, broadcasting from Little Rock to our rabbit ears in black and white, that sleepy summer morning when Dad said we had to go to the creek for a bit.... There was a Cheerios commercial jangling on that black and white box, that morning. A catchy tune. I don't remember how to whistle it. I remember the little round oatrings and yellow box though, and summer days, hot jasmine, honeysuckle, and clear cold shimmering water every time I see a box of Cheerios.
The creek was the one back of our house a ways, the one I always played in, but never got in above my ankles.... There was STUFF in there… fish and snakes and monsters, who knew what all? I had seen a wolf across this creek once, but that was last winter. It was summer now and all was ok...
So we went down there, he and I. Dad and me.
And that fucker dang near drowned my happy ass.
Without a whistle or warning, he tossed me into the DEEP PART. The part I NEVER went near. With both arms he tossed me like a little skinny white tangle of arms and screaming legs into the water and... I burbled and gurgled and screamed (sorta -underwater, no one can hear you scream, right? :) and battled any dragon that kept me from air or sunlight.
I came up outta the water in the creek with a whomper of a scream....
He pushed me back down with a comment that "I might like to 'hold my breath' now".
His hand let go of me....
And of course I surfaced, squalling, twisting like the Pope had found Satan-piss in Bugtussle's Tent Revival Show, but then again, the hand laid on me, and .....BLURP! Under the shimmering clear water I go.... Somewhere above all the racket I was making, I could hear him say "...your breath..."
There wasn't much left for me to do except lose my mind for a second or so... and turn into 60 pounds of teeth and fingernails and I DON'T CARE IF YOU'RE MY DAD, I'M GONNA CAP YOUR ASS ...when he pulled me up by my hair, into the air, into the sun..... into the trees and landscape and bugs and rocks and sweet sweet air and his face inches from mine......
"C'mon. Don't be scared of this, Mike. It's new. Not scary. Hold your breath. I'll go with you...." He took a deep breath and we both went under..........
I hadn't exactly taken a breath, and he brought me back up quick....
Shivering, white, skinny, 6 year old kid-limbs clung to him like eels.
"Ready", he asked? He looked at me and I KNEW it, suddenly. I don't know how I knew it, but I did. I GOT it… I trusted him.
"Ok....". I whimpered.
I took a deep breath, and Dad smiled a little, and we both held it in and we went down...
He and I let go of each other there, underwater, in that creek.... that clear, cold water. He took my hands and made me hold on to some rocks so I would stay submerged, but my legs went up anyway with the flow of the creek until I was almost standing on my hands.... We looked at each other. Made a face like clowns at each other there, underwater. There was a bubbling corked-up sound of slippery wetness, flashing specks of light and shade as the sunlight rippled down to us.
We came back up, we did, huffing air, hearing bugs whining. The sun was hot. It was July. I had water on my face. I could swim! It made me feel big as the whole world!
That night, we had pizza and watched the TV while a man in a big white suit stepped out of an ugly bug-looking machine. The land on the TV screen was gray, the sky black. Dad said it was the moon. I wondered about that. The moon? The same one I could right now go outside and look up at? There was a man up there right now, stepping outside of his machine and standing on that round, familiar light? Looking back at me? If I waved at him, would he see me?
I fell asleep, there on the wooden floor in front of the TV. I woke up a little when Dad was putting me in bed, and I hugged him fiercely, loving this man who showed me new things, who made clown faces at me under the clear water of the creek. Who showed me a man walking on my moon.
A year and a half later.
It is Saturday morning, and I’m leaving the house with basketball in hand. Mom stops me. “No, Mike. You can’t go out and do these things on the Sabbath anymore… God wants us to study his Word on the Sabbath, and besides… you’ll just get dirty and we’re going to Church at noon.”
I looked across the room at Dad. He was studying the Black Book. He wouldn’t look at me.
I was handed some booklets from the new pile on the table, some “Bible Study” stuff.
My room was as I’d left it moments ago. The difference was I had a handful of Plain Truth magazines, some Basil Wolverton cartoons to ponder over, some white booklet about sex and a Black Book which told me in no uncertain terms that I was not a good person. And no one was. God killed people who didn’t follow him, and Dads sometimes put a knife to their sons. Entire nations of people screamed in horror in floods and plagues of locusts or rivers of blood.
I looked at the pile of paper I’d dumped on my bed and thought how Dad wouldn’t look at me. I thought of a clear creek, a clown face, a man stepping out of a wondrous machine way up there on my moon and waving back at me.
I looked out the screen window at the sun, the bugs, the world, and then? It was soon time for church.
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