I wake up to a very strange smell. I can’t quite place it. Then I realize that my dogs are running frantically around the house, but for some reason they’re not barking, and that strikes me as wrong.
I sit up, notice that it’s 9 am, but it seems too dark outside for that. Once the dogs see that I’m up, they start barking in what seems like a weird combination of agitation and relief. And what is that smell?
I leave the bedroom, and call for Dear Husband, but get no response. Everything around me looks… it’s hard to explain. Abandoned? Dusty? Sandy? I don’t know. Surreal.
I head to the back door in search of DH, and when I open it, I’m hit by this wall of sensation. The park and woods behind our house are engulfed in bright orange flame and muddy black smoke. The weird smell gets even stronger.
I discover that I’m screaming, and I run across the back deck, going God knows where. I nearly trip over an old-school, red and black surfboard, the long, heavy kind. I’ve never seen it before. And the house is surrounded by… trampolines?
Then my husband comes around the side of the house, jumping from trampoline to trampoline, and I must say that he’s getting an impressive amount of height. He’s wearing nothing but board shorts, combat boots, and a red bandana. His hair is long, wispy and dark, as it was as in his youth (which makes me grateful that I met him later in life).
His face and torso are covered in green and grey paint. A feverish sweat is coursing down a serious case of 5 o’clock shadow on his jaw. He looks exhausted yet adrenalized, as if he might spontaneously combust at any moment. He’s holding what appears to be a supersized fire extinguisher with an unusually hardcore nozzle.
As he bounces past, and is rounding the next corner, he’s shouting, “Good morning, Babe! I got this! The perimeter is secure!”
His words alternately fade and intensify as his head pops up above the roof-line. “DON’T worry, I’VE got THIS!”
And what is that smell?
I look back at the fire. It seems to have originated from a PBR boat that has appeared out of nowhere, and is now stranded at a cockeyed angle in the middle of the field. At this point there are balls of flame curling skyward above the tree line, and that’s when I hear the squadron of helicopters that is roaring toward us. Black helicopters. The front one is blasting the song, “Ride of the Valkyries.”
I finally realize what the smell is. Napalm. Napalm in the morning.
Then I wake up for real, gasping as though I’m coming up for air after being submerged too long.
The sun is shining. The birds are singing. I can hear Dear Husband puttering in the yard. I am buffeted by the wave-like whoosh of the cars passing by on the highway out front, and Quagmire, my dachshund, is snoring gently beside me. The sounds of home. So this is not the horror of war after all.
I think, “That’s what I get for staying up late, eating too much junk food, and watching the extended and even more surreal version of Apocalypse Now.”
I decide that what’s needed is some yogurt to settle my stomach. Thus begins my day.
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