Robert Okroi III

Not many people have the misfortune of being able to identify the apex of happiness in their lifetime, to be able to point to a past time and realize that there will be no moment in the future that they will feel that joy again. And that ecstasy becomes enigmatic, a forever haunting reminder of what was and will never be again. Unforgiving knowledge.

Rodney and his family left the hospital, one fine spring afternoon. His wife appeared tranquil in the backseat the newborn baby boy in her arms and his daughter anxious and curious about the recent addition to the family kept peering over the corner of the seat to watch them. A new baby boy, a recent promotion, a new home, everything had fallen into place for Rodney over the past few months.

They were pulling into the driveway of their two-story home when the sun’s rays began to dwindle with the changing skies, and Rodney had taken notice of the brown tinged grass in their front lawn. A chore that he had been absentmindedly forgetting while immersed in the anxious energies provoked due to his wife’s former condition. Apparently, he wouldn’t have to worry about watering now.

“I didn’t see rain in the forecast for this week.” Rodney muttered half to himself, half to his wife.

“I can’t remember the last time we got some though,” She replied. “It will be good for the grass at least. What’s going on at Bill’s?”

Rodney noticed, for the first time, that there were three, or was that four, people standing across the street in the Glover’s yard. Rodney had to tilt his body and peer over his shoulder to realize it was Bill and his neighbors, Charlotte and Greg, and a fourth person that he couldn’t place. But, they did appear quite peculiarly dressed.

“Huh, I don’t know.” He killed the SUV with a twist.

They eased out of the car from three separate points and offered a casual wave to the gathered neighbors. His wife and daughter went into the house hand in hand, and he followed with the baby and overnight bag from the trunk of the car. He only spent a few minutes inside before coming back out and letting curiosity get the better of him.

He was halfway across his lawn when he was able to pick out the fourth member a bit more clearly, and determined that it wasn’t a person at all. It was grinning from ear to ear, had rocky features, a bright blue flamboyant top hat, and a velvety (in appearance) purple cloak. Its left hand was pressed to its hip and its right was lifted in a half-wave, and it was about five and a half feet tall. A statue.

“Hey Rod,” Bill said. “Congratulations on the new addition to the family, do you mind if Betty and I come over later and say, hi to the little guy?”

“Of course not,” He responded while shaking hands with Greg and offering a congenial smile to his wife. “So, uh, what’s this?”

“You know, we have no idea,” Bill said with a laugh. “I was just telling Greg and Charlie here, it was just sitting at the end of our driveway last night. The wife fell in love with it, so we just moved it onto the lawn. Took four of us to move the damn thing!”

Rodney remained smiling, but he was not at all pleased with this thing. In his closer inspection he realized that the grin didn’t reveal amusement, but there was something malicious about it. The creases in the corners of its mouth made it appear menacing, and although from a distance the mouth looked normal from here he could tell it possessed a piranha mouth.

Rodney shook off the uneasy feeling the statue gave him and returned to converse with his neighbors. They talked about the weather, the birth, the local sports teams, and then went on their separate ways once the rain began to fall.

The next few days Rodney had taken off of work to make sure he was able to help out at home. Cooking, cleaning, taking care of the baby, watching their daughter, all so his wife could recover. And these chores were in addition to his usual.

The day before he would acknowledge his “happiest” time was gone he was sitting on his front lawn. It was mid-afternoon and he had gotten a lot done, and his wife was feeling better than she had in days and capable of handling the kids. It was his first moment of relaxation.

It was there sitting in the center of the slightly browned grass, resting in the uncomfortable folding chair, a cool breeze trickling across his ankles, that he made eye-contact with the hideous monstrosity that stood across from him.

The top-hat was changed for a purple colored straw-hat and somehow a pair of blue-overalls had been strapped onto its body. That impish slice across its stony face appeared to be cut wider than he had first originally noticed, it seemed wide enough to consume him totally and it made his insides gnarl up. He squirmed in his seat, consciously believing it was due to the seat itself being irritating, but somewhere he knew it was that statue.

He finished his first beer and went back inside, foregoing the two or three more he would usually consume to “relax”. That night he fell asleep in the middle of watching Pinochio with his family. He woke up in time to put his daughter to bed, and check on his baby, then he fell asleep beside his wife with a “Love you” exchanged, bodies back to back.

It was six a.m. when he woke to the scream. He couldn’t recall the scene exactly, but the memories were like a series of still-photos with an attached emotion. Waking up to an empty bed with a blossoming dark dawn and shrill sounds, terror. His wife’s hands over her face and bug-eyed, gut-wrenching. The tiny boy, a doll, fading from pink to blue, horror.

Pink to blue. Life to death, warmth to cold, and purple. He was purple. It was purple, no longer he. That’s what he remembered best when the paramedics came in, helpless as they were. Purple.

The somersaulting emotions kept him from ever being able to focus on anything but that color, the combination of red and blue. He saw that statue staring from his neighbor’s lawn when they rushed to the car. It was closer to the sidewalk than it was the day prior, and it was winking. One eye pinched shut. Or at least that’s how Rodney remembered it.

He didn’t have time to think of the ramifications of a winking statue, nor could his mind settle into a spot to be capable of such speculation. Instead he was just thinking of the purple. That thing’s purple hat. The purple baby. Red and blue. The same color of the wailing lights on the ambulance they followed.

When they arrived to the emergency room he saw the look in the paramedic’s eyes, red-eyed and apologetic. Rodney’s first reaction to his appearance was to think he won’t last long in this profession, his second thought was my baby’s dead.

He had known it was dead already, but the thought hadn’t come to him until that moment. The actual thought was different than knowing something. He had watched his wife hold her face, the men run into the building with the bundled lifeless wrapping. The parade of action and theatrics, but it was dead.

It was over.

It was a purple thing.

He had cursed himself quietly for his thoughts and had found his legs weak. He knelt on the concrete outside the sliding glass doors, watched his wife scramble into the hospital after the paramedics.

There wasn’t much after that he could recall, but he did realize that he had reached his point of supreme happiness and it was gone. Gone forever.

The next few days were spent in a daze. Drifting around the house, a ghost, answering the phone and smiling into the receiver as people asked if he was okay. Sitting silently with his wife her face turning to that baby purple while his went stony. He reflected on the purpleness of the world. He reflected on the winking construct outside. His daughter too young to realize she should be crying, but staring at her daddy and wondering why he wasn’t.

Days transformed into weeks of this daze, and he had found his wife more and more foreign to him. He had found the walls to be estranged. He had become an invader and instead began to lurk outside on the front lawn.

He chained vacation and sick days together in order to spend his time outside with a can in hand. He often found himself staring at the stone man across the street, finding his choice of purple attire to be antagonizing and purposeful. Purple gloves, purple boots, purple headbands, purple belts, purple scarfs, purple shirts, purple hats, purple jewelry, purple shorts, purple coats, purple glasses. Every other day it was something new and the statue appeared to be becoming more and more amused at each passing day, urging Rodney to do something. But, rationality prevailed and his ferocity was unleashed on his fingertips and spat into the lawn, buried away for another day.

A month passed and his wife was gone leaving an empty shell of a house beside his new “home”. Cans accrued in piles over days. A beard of brown that could be measured back to the acknowledgement of his happiest days had grown and his eyes had gone from blue to tundra. His body had become as unkempt as the world he lived in.

Neighbors had offered condolences at first and were accepting of Rodney’s alteration, understanding, but quickly that turned to irritation and aggravation. They had turned purple in fuming arguments about the nature of Rodney’s lawn, but he felt nothing for them.

The only thing he could feel was the burning black hatred in his belly for that winking, grinning abomination. It could drive Rodney to be physically ill, just thinking about that granite sculpture.

And then one sleepless night on the couch Rodney stirred to a rapping on his door. Upon investigation he had found his doorstep to be empty, but standing in the center of his lawn was the stone man. Standing over his lawn chair, among his piled aluminum, smiling. Not the horrendous mutating grin, but a soft smile. A smirk really.

It was all Rodney could stand at that point, all the weight of the world came down on him and made him feel like an ant trapped. He seethed red. He cried and the tears were for his lost son, wife, daughter. He pummeled soft fleshy fists into the solid stone. He thrust himself into the base and roared with the pain that coursed through his body as bone broke against the stone. He jerked his body violently against the girth of the statue and lost his balance momentarily, but enough that he dropped to a knee. The muddy grass, due to inattention, of his front lawn made the stance of the statue unstable as it came down atop Rodney.

The statue fell across his backside, cracking him upon the skull, and anchoring him face down into the mud. Drowsy and feeble he remained, weakly attempting to survive until his world turned black and his skin flushed to a lovely shade of purple.





Euphemism Campus Box 5555 Illinois State University Normal, IL 61790