Folly! Though our reserves are low and morale sinking, the Leader has declared a furthering of the summer offensive. Already scum is encrusting the edges of the pool despite my best efforts, and the fence in the backyard is tilting dangerously. Susie's efforts to maintain a cohesive front are lackluster and beset with defeatism. She refuses to believe the garage can be painted despite the ongoing fine weather. The Leader declares we must continue to be strong, that the total subjugation of our foes -- who he insists started this war -- is just around the bend.
"Soon," he raves, "this house is going to be perfect!"
The Frau, the Leader's wife and a mercurial woman who keeps much of her thoughts to herself, remains silent on all points except the garage, which she wants emptied of junk. Our hopes for her affecting a coup dwindle even as the dead chipmunks clog the pool filter. The loss of Mark, our last reserve unit, to college could not be more untimely.
September 7, 2002
The Leader is merciless. With the onset of school, and thus my own theater of operations doubled or even trebled, nevertheless he requires me to do daily what cannot be done in a week. All this without even a furlough! Television viewing has been cut to an hour a day. Preposterous! The limit! I actually pray for field maneuvers on the soccer field if only to escape the desultory madhouse that the kitchen bunker has become. Thankfully, the Frau has outdone herself in her duties as quartermaster. Where once only wilted greens, old radishes, and filmy vegetarian leftovers lurked, now the fridge is supplied with frozen delights of all kinds. Susie makes what could in the future be a disastrous run on the pizza rolls, but nevertheless, my own foraging abilities have increased commensurately. I hide the steak-ums behind the spinach packets in the freezer. For now, the loss of full dinners, with the always-grim washing up afterwards, is not taken seriously, and is even enjoyed. With all forces deployed, there is little time for the preparation and thawing of casseroles.
Still, the Leader's demands are great. This morning as I brushed my teeth he screamed at me almost unintelligibly, "Gutters! Gutters! Gutters!" I shall have to address said gutters sooner rather than later. When he is like this, feeling betrayed, the Leader can become dangerous. I do not mention the garage, the Leader's personal sphere of command, where the ladder for the gutters remains trapped under his golfing crap. This is only an indication of how poorly the offensive is going.
September 20, 2002
No news of Mark, the Leader doesn't seem to care, while the Frau seems concerned. The Leader insists it's normal for his last, handpicked reserve to fall off the face of the earth. Unsure of orders, Susie and I keep away from the Leader's lair in the rec room. He broods and reads classifieds in the papers most of the day, occasionally coming up into the kitchen to demand crackers or snacks. He polished off my last steak-um last night, and I almost wept. It was being saved for a special occasion. The Frau, unapologetic, mentions "sole household earner" frequently during daily staff briefings. Perhaps humbled, the Leader (finally!) addresses the garage. No mention of gutters. I keep my head down, do my homework, watch Das Boot for the fifth time this week. Attempt to contact Mark once and once only, was forced to relay a message through a liaison in his dorm who answered the ringing with "Funker here." I hang up and glare at the uncovered pool, now a cesspit of leaves and dead rodents.
October 3, 2002
Even as my strength falters -- despite an A in social studies, two failed quizzes elsewhere plus suspension from the soccer team for kicking an opponent in the neck after he had fallen -- the offensive expands: leaf raking! I have dared to recruit an ally from previous soccer maneuvers. He is fat, bilious, and untrustworthy but with Susie increasingly plodding in her efforts (uncountable glasses and plates in her room where she now takes her mess whenever she can possibly get away with it), he is all we can hope for under the present circumstances. His name is Eric, and while his raking capabilities are suspect at best (his own leader mocks previous attempts!) he comes from a wealthy, dissolute nation of the bourgeois, and I often escape to said household in order to play Tomb Raider.
Back at the bunker, the situation has become oppressive. Last night, the Leader and many of his cronies gathered in the garage to celebrate the one-year anniversary of their untimely dismissal from the tire plant. Much shouting and drinking and clattering of beer cans off the wall as they cursed the tyrants of industry. The Frau displeased to say the least, and she absconded to her own quarters in the upstairs bathroom with a bottle of wine and the cordless. Supplies diminish, and so does morale. I left for school at 5 this morning and slept on a bench in the locker area to avoid the inevitable furor during their morning conference.
October 14, 2002
Disaster! Disgrace! Catastrophe! Our worst fears have been confirmed as a second front has opened. Allowed too much leeway in his operations, Mark has become some kind of freebooter, switching majors from pre-med to music theory. He insisted, through short communication via the wireless internet, that he and the aforementioned Funker and their band Dreadnought will save first themselves then the Pellagra family as a whole, but only if re-supplied extensively with financial backing. He also says they require foodstuffs to continue their march toward, as he put, "kickass glory and fame." The Leader rages, flailing his arms and turning purple at the news. Insists Mark return to the bunker for a reappraisal of the situation, but no response from the front. Communications cut already. The Frau furious as well, though her anger not contained to the headstrong reservist. Reports arriving from school regarding Susie and the thievery of a jean jacket from a locker during gym class. Despite circumstances, pillaging fiercely prohibited in our field manual as "intolerable." Susie sentenced to her quarters until tribunal can sit to mete out proper punishment. The Leader almost catatonic following these disasters, retreats in gloom to the rec room, crackers and bottle of scotch (last!) in hand. Frau stares at his retreating figure with disgust. I go quietly to my own quarters to burn small pieces of paper in my metal NY Jets trashcan. I pray for Mark's success, or at the least his escape from this wretched campaign.
October 19, 2002
Eric already revealed as a turncoat. First, following a drubbing received in hockey by self on Playstation, he then refused orders outright to continue leaf removal from back yard. Insubordination at its worst as he flung the rake into a puddle. I ordered him out of yard, back to his pathetic bourgeois sanctuary. Then, the next day in school, after being dared to grab Felicia Sampson's ass, I did so in the lunchroom, and she bloodied my nose with a swift elbow. Resistance such as this -- fierce, implacable, unremitting -- has destroyed all personal morale regarding operations in the female theater, and achieving a date in time for the winter dance now looks impossible. Even worse, as I lay clutching my face and rolling on the stinking carpet of the cafeteria, Eric and other useless hooligans laughed uproariously at my predicament. Never has this proud soldier of the war been so reduced. I rose burning and honor shattered, I retreated to the empty locker area to be alone with my defeat.
October 24, 2002
The regime is collapsing faster than anyone expected. The Frau has moved her personal quarters elsewhere! Claiming the Leader is deluded, lazy, and uncaring, she has transferred herself, in defiance of all orders, to the Strawberry Vale Apartments on the outskirts of Rt. 20. As the Frau's new HQ is positioned closer to the middle school than the bunker is, Susie too has joined the desertion. I alone remain with the Leader, who in his sorrow provides only mustard on white bread for supper. Currently, communications are so few that the Leader obsessively checks the equipment to see if still functioning. No messages on the telephone or the wireless, however, and he grows lethal in his anger. Screaming again "Gutters! Gutters!" he barricades himself in the rec room, the only sound emanating from the darkness the sound of cursing or crying, it is difficult to decipher.
In a last ditch effort, I again attempt to establish contact with the reserve corps. Mark is out, and so is his flunky Funker. A girl answers and asks if I'm Dooley, they really want to hook up before the show tonight. When I inform her of my name and rank and insist on speaking to Mark and Mark alone, she says, "What the fuck?" and hangs up.
October 27, 2002
On returning from school, I find that the Frau has deposited the last of her stores, a frozen casserole, on the bunker table. A note on top reads, "Billy, I love you. Mom. Please call this number if you get worried." I pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees, carefully remove the aluminum foil, then place the dish on the middle rack. I wait for the casserole -- tuna with those little onion ring things on top -- to warm up. I do not know where the Leader has gone to. Normally he is in the rec room when I come home, eagerly awaiting intelligence on the progress of the offensive. When the casserole seems ready, I put oven mitts on both hands before taking the steaming dish out. Even as the campaign collapses, discipline must be maintained. Using a spatula, I serve myself on a small plate and eat the casserole, tasting nothing. Then, I carefully re-wrap the dish in foil, making sure to pinch down all the outside edges, and put the casserole in the fridge for the Leader's return. I leave the Frau's note on top of the foil as a situation report.
October 28, 2002
Halloween three days away, but the snows have begun. A foot and a half before 7 this morning, school cancelled. The offensive is doomed. Despite the closing of the institutions, attempts to liaison with Susie fruitless. She may have joined the Frau at the office. I let the Leader sleep as I find my winter jacket, hat and gloves in a box in the back of the coat closet. Then, in the garage, I fight with the ladder and haul it outside into the driveway. The snow is thick and wet, but it has stopped falling. I can hear snow blowers up and down the street. I lean the ladder against the house and climb up, gloved hands griping the ladder tightly. Then, with the ice immediately soaking through and my hands freezing, I start to clean the gutters. As I toss sticky clots of leaves and gunk and snow to the yard below, I see the Leader peering fearfully out the bunker's bay window. He is robed, shaven, gray-faced. I salute once, briskly, and he salutes back. The summer offensive is clearly over, but preparations must be made for a re-opening of communications. Perhaps a conference between the Leader, the Frau, and Mark can be organized near Thanksgiving in order to review troop dispersals, to find a way to close these crumbling fronts. Until then, all steps must be made to survive till springtime, and I continue to work my way down the frozen gutter. As long as one man stands true, our hopes for victory remain intact.
[Forever after at http://eyeshot.net/seamonsummer.html]
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LET IT BE WIDELY KNOWN THAT
if you live in the nyc area, it is highly recommended
that you try to see decasia monday or tuesday night
at the anthology film archives at 2nd & 2nd.
it goes on tour too if you live elsewhere.