The House of Happy Mayhem - A book by Trent Zelazny(6)
Author:Trent Zelazny

    Theyread all kinds of books. I bet they read all the time. Sometimesthey come out to the park and lie in the grass and each of them has abook, sometimes small paperbacks like the ones I carry and sometimeslarge volumes one would think it would take a forklift to move. Withthe exception of the woman’s hair not quite being properly caredfor—and it isn’t bad; it is still quite lovely—they are veryclean, always well dressed, and both have a genial manner thatimplies they have many friends and acquaintances. Nearly alwayssmiling faces, as though every moment in their lives is a happymoment.

    Imove forward, stick the paperback back into my pocket, then take itout immediately again and run my fingers through the pages as the manruns his fingers through her hair, and in watching this action anopinion does an about face. They might have a lot of friends, butnow I wonder, and suddenly I feel bad for them. Maybe they’re sadand don’t have any friends. Maybe the smiles are masks, cover-ups,like make-up they put on movie stars to hide their blemishes. Suddenly I feel bad for them, I feel really bad and as I feel reallybad I scoff at myself just as the sunny yellow Frisbee lands at myfeet.

    Thedog stops a couple yards away, excited, panting, bouncing. I reachdown and pick up the Frisbee and fling it in the direction of thepoor, lonely dog lover. “Thanks,” he calls out, and I reply witha wave and my hand is still in motion when I hear the girl scream. My attention jolts back to them and the man is tickling her and she’slaughing hysterically.

    Iscoff at myself again, look down at my book, open it to a randompage, skim a line and close it up again as I stand up from my rock. I stuff the paperback into my back pocket and walk to my left untilthe trees dwindle to fence and the fence opens up. Giving the coupleone more glance, I step out of the park and onto the sidewalk. Idebate going left or right, then decide to go right, as it is thequicker way home.

    AsI pass by the houses I think of how wonderful it would be to livehere. Christmas pops into my mind, and I can see myself in a sweaterwith a glass of eggnog and a black lab that worships the ground Iwalk on. In my home are all kinds of people, friends andacquaintances, and there is a Christmas tree in the living room, litup all bright and pretty. One of those Starbucks Christmascompilation CDs is playing and everyone is laughing and having a goodtime. And standing in the corner, by the tree, talking with somefriends, is my wife, a beautiful redhead. I excuse myself from myown friends and acquaintances, sneak up behind her and tickle her. She laughs hysterically, and in my mind her name is Laura.

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