On Darkened Lawns
by Daniel Braum
It was a dark summer night during the big brown out of ‘05. The trains weren’t running and my girlfriend, Kerri, was stuck in the city. Even so, with no power to the traffic lights I was staying off the roads so I wouldn’t be going to see her tonight. Putting off the inevitable. On my way to Calahan’s to drown my sorrows, I noticed my neighbor’s lawn jockey was missing from its place among the parade of lawn deer, lawn ducks, and ceramic mushrooms that blighted an otherwise pleasant green-grassed, well-manicured-shrubbed, suburban front yard.
My relationship with Kerri was on borrowed time. Something about the old men at Calahan’s and the bartender who looked like she could have been something once, comforted me as I struggled with the question what does one do with the good times once a relationship is gone.
I drank myself into quite a stupor and sometime after midnight I figured it was time to shamble home before I risked not waking up tomorrow.
I walked home, no closer to any answers. Still lost in thought, I wondered why my keys didn’t work in my door. I looked at the lawn and realized I must have turned down the wrong block.
It was full of lawn jockeys, their lanterns shining with the glow of thousands of fireflies.
I stood there thinking, damn some kids really did a good one. And then I saw the jockeys were moving; escorting kids to and from the corner where the bus stops; trailing men in suits with brief cases to their cars. Everywhere scenes of suburban life were being played out like ghostly-recorded images and the lawn jockeys followed, illuminating them with their yellow-green, too-bright lantern light.
And for it a second it all made sense, I understood the place of these purposeless lawn ornaments in the universe. Then I reminded myself of the hour and the impossibility of it all and told myself that it couldn’t be.
“No, you had it right the first time,” said a blue and white jockey standing next to me. “This makes perfect sense. You’ve traveled far to see us my friend.”
As he spoke I had a vague recollection of passing out. Was that my body face down on the steps there behind the little cast iron man?
“So where do you want to go?” he said.
“To see Kerri, I guess,” I said without thinking. It came out naturally.
The clunk of horseshoes on asphalt filled the night. The jockey smiled and now that I heard the echoing sound I realized the rest of the commotion was strangely noiseless.
“Your question,” the jockey said. “Good times. They are a noble pursuit in and of themselves. They are never destroyed, even when you and she are no more.”
A pair of tall strong horses, the same yellow-green as the lantern light galloped down the block and stopped in front of the house.
I remembered tripping. Stumbling. Falling on the brick stairs. My head smashing on the concrete.
“So, I’m not going to make it work tomorrow after all, am I?” I asked.
The jockey’s fixed expression seemed somber as he stiffly shook his head from side to side. Then he climbed on one of the horses.
“Come on,” he said. “Kerri awaits. I shall race you there.”