Wearing nothing but a pink bath robe two sizes smaller and the pair of elf slippers my grandpa gave me on Christmas, I ventured into the outside world with my cat popsicle grabbed firmly by the tail. It was just as cold as when I found him in the freezer but now it was four times more attractive and good looking, all things considered. And it was all my doing.
After deciding the cat popsicle was going to be casted as my official garden gnome I knew it had to, at least, look the part. And “look the part” it did. Two hours of my life, half a gallon of my sweat and seventeen drops of blood – most of them mine – were invested in the task of improving the image of my newly acquired pet. This endeavor turned out to be a bit trickier than I initially estimated, but I simply was not ready to be defeated by a technicality like “difficulty”. Anyways, it’s not like I had anything better to do at 6:30 a.m., especially since my job-related window of opportunity for that day had closed even before I opened my eyes.
Once the cat and I had unanimously agreed on a particular look, the makeover session began. Before even choosing on the proper accessories, the first step towards a better image began with a slight modification to his stiff and less than glamorous pose. I’m almost sure two of its legs were irreversibly broken during this process, but it was all for the greater good: transforming it into a somewhat faithful rendition of Miss October’s sexy, horizontal beach pose. Believing this creature was already dead was my one and only solace.
After the correct stance was achieved, it was time to prove myself as a lawn gnome clothing designer. By the end of the morning, the frozen cat sported a brand new blue sweater made out of a dirty sock that used to be gray, a furrowed red cardboard cone hat, a dignified whitish beard made exclusively with crumpled paper and its very own pipe constructed entirely with the remains of two LEGO men. He also had a loose left eye hanging from its socket, but the various accessories I added served their purpose of diverting the attention from that particular spot. All in all, while the job was decent at best, I would definitely not hire me. However, should the opportunity present itself, you will not hear a “no” as my final answer.
As soon as the lawn gnomification was done, I carefully placed the cat right in the middle of the two feet square patch of dirt and yellow grass I call “my front lawn”. Filled with nothing but pride I let out but a single manly tear of achievement. Thereupon, I took several steps backwards, into the street, in order to appreciate how my latest creation looked from afar. Standing in the middle of the street, my eyes glued to the new resident of my front lawn, I couldn’t help but feel even more satisfied of myself. The silhouette of whatever I was looking at was hard to discern inside the deep and unfocused obscurity of my glassless myopia even when squinting my eyes really hard, but nothing could undermine my feeling of utter success. The sight was simply beautiful.
My brain was full with phrases such as “Gosh! Just look how talented I really am” and “I could seriously make a living out of this!” Suddenly, my thoughts started to have a certain beat accompanying them, a beat that sounded eerily like a horn-based rendition of The Godfather’s theme. It was odd, but it felt just right. The cadence of such a song helped boost the feeling of accomplishment. My self esteem was shooting through the roof of my skull and a couple more manly tears rolled down my cheeks. And, just as I was beginning to feel positively happy, the feeling of a thick tire grazing my left pinky toe burst my bubble. The fall was nothing less than fantastic.
As my inner world abandoned me, I was welcomed by a blinding flash of orange. Inside it, I could discern the fuzzy eyes of death, a pair of bottomless pits of pink reflections that resented how close their bearer came to ending my existence, taking this missed opportunity to challenge me to a game of Backgammon for my soul. I’m not entirely sure of the latter but that’s how my brain remembers it.
Just as quickly as it engulfed me, the orange burst of near death spat me back to the real world, just in time to see how an orange minivan zipped through the street, mere inches in front of me, before disappearing into the horizon. I could’ve responded to the myriad of derogatory adjectives the driver subjected my ears to, but I was too busy falling backwards to the ground in hopes that a dash of external pain and a teaspoon of leveled stillness would quiet the pounding of my heart.
Having watched death so closely in the eye to even feel the fuzzy texture of its eyes, I couldn’t think straight. My head could only focus repeatedly on death’s bottomless eye sockets approaching towards my squinted eyeballs to show me how dull my life had been. Only two life events were deemed important enough to be flashed in front of me before I almost died. First I was shown the whole process of rebuilding my feline garden gnome. Subsequently, I had the chance to relive every painful second of the 96 minute film that almost destroyed the relationship between me and my father back when I was eight years old: a movie not-so-simply titled Baraka.