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Free Admission with Children

by Matthew Dexter



Matthew Dexter lives in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Like the nomadic Pericú natives before him, he survives on a hunter-gatherer subsistence diet of shrimp tacos, smoked marlin, cold beer, and warm sunshine.

The bed became a majestic coffin, a magic carpet ride to a haunted yet sacred dimension -- Dad’s sneezing, Mom’s awkward snoring, it was never boring. Anything but ordinary, we slept there in the backyard, our house all boarded up, waiting for those bastards to kick us off our own lawn. Blankets wrapped around our ankles, like ribbons not shackles; we snuggled with the dogs and even made room for the family snake in the corner.

Nobody bothered us in our misery; any disruption would have been akin to interrupting our star speckled commissary. We bathed beneath the rusty faucet on the deck. We played cards while the birds made love. The moon was all we had, all we needed, the satellite that freed us from television and video games, brought us all together for the first time in years.

“Where the hell is the kitten?” Mom asked around midnight.

King sized bed our holy alter, family as one dream, one heart beating defiant against the current of a double dip recession, bleeding ulcers, a mortgage desecrated by the ambitions of an alcoholic father who never dared to put down the bottle.

“That ball python is getting anxious,” Dad says.

But now he is cold turkey, out there in the grass he never cuts, obstructed by the bushes the neighbors planted to save their views, preserve their dignity. We roll around, an ethereal cloud above the harsh reality of unemployment.

“One day they’ll get what’s coming to them,” Mom says.

The clouds mirror her opinions; shape themselves into giraffes, gorillas, dragons, and shapeless masses while she prances on filthy tiptoes, a nudist in her confused sanctuary. She builds the birdcage in her brain for butterflies, an innocuous zoo in the heavens each afternoon.

“Let them laugh and ridicule us now, but they’ll come crawling into bed one day when the shit hits the fan,” Dad says.  

Every morning we roast stray raccoons and squirrels that wander too close to the bed. The mosquitoes bite my face, the moths tickle my earlobes, and obstinate raindrops fall on our skulls. In this bed, in this yard, we have it all.

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