- Ward Cleaver's Prozac Fever

lizzy borden took an axe

We were under orders to assassinate.

Do it any way we liked best.

Poison. Explosives. Lizzy Borden.

A Lecter-like skinnin'.

Whatever the mode, our teenage

droogie gang had a mission, and

that mission was clear:

our neighborhood's "Mr. Wilson" was

about to take the hit, and when

the sap began to flow, his

prized flowering dogwood would die.

As hormonally-addled pre-dads,

we were NOT junior James Watts by any

stretch of the imagination, I assure you.

We were simply programmed,

hapless, zit-plagued goons with

spankin' new driver's licenses

and a well-defined vandalism imperative

(albeit an imperative well within the

acceptable range of social mores, of course).

Now, the "hit," and the blessing

for it, came from on high --- from

one of our gang's misguided dads ---

Mr. Griffey, God rest his dadly soul ---

a passive-aggressive sort who actively

sought to make good on his

consuming, obsessive vendettas whenever

he could pull 'em off by proxy

and walk away clean.

Griffey (a.k.a. "The Grif"), loathed

the neighbor two doors up for one

reason and one reason only:


Each and every day, day after day of

the Grif's Sisyphean little life, old

Furman would try to sell him

Universal Life, and then take to

his postage stamp tree-lawn where his

twiggy dogwood was finally turning the corner

into fully-blown tree-dom.

He'd feed it the finest of

fine fishy fertilizers. He'd pamper it

with salon-style poodley prunings.

He'd read it Donne and Yeats.

That day, the Grif, trying to unwind

with a cold one in his thread-bare

grease-spattered Dickies, was once

again approached on his front porch

by old Furman, who again brought his

pitch for the untold riches of

Universal Life.

Declining politely through gritted teeth,

the Grif quickly breezed through

his cross-buck aluminum door to take

refuge from all that Universal Life

portends, leaving Furman, mid-sentence,

in a vapor trail of solvent and diesel oil.

Angry, blotchy red rosettes burst out

on Griffey's troglodyte face and neck.

His blood pressure skied.

Universal Life was killing him.

He bit his lip with his upper plate

loosing a rivulet of blood,

squeezed a dent in his steel beer can,

and peered through a crack in his

wife's taffeta window treatment

as Furman slowly returned to

the dogwood, a sonnet on his lips

for his deciduous Juliet.

"That tree," said the Grif,

"is the FIRST thing to go."

There was a new moon that evening.

An oppressive humidity hung on,

refusing to burn off with the coming

of the night. The clock had ticked past

midnight when in neutral gear with

its 327 cut, the three of us rolled down

the block in a beat gold and rust Malibu,

gliding to a halt in front of

Furman's dogwood.

Two doors down, the Grif anxiously

peered through the window, clean as a

bean from a Mr. Bubble and fresh in his

jammies, waiting for the hit to go down.

Of course he had no way of knowing,

nor would he have probably much

cared, that we had scored some

Boone's Farm Apple from our favorite

beverage store --- the one with the

geek everyone called "L.D.P.C."

(which I later learned stood for

"Large Deluxe Pizza Chest"),

behind the counter. LDPC'd also

sell us smokes, but because of his

demanding moral system drew the

line, selling Thai stick hidden

in the ceiling panels

only to chicks he hoped to boink.

We were ripped, stupid and clueless,

and in the ninja night, we stumbled

and shambled through the execution

of the hit, belching up Boone's and

forcing the unstoppable torrent of

giggling through our noses to keep from

waking the Furman family.

One of us stayed at the driver's wheel,

poised to crank the Malibu.

(Turbines to speed).

The rest of us opened the

Malibu's generous trunk where we had

already anchored a heavy chain

on an equally heavy eyehook.

We slipped the other end of

the chain which we had fashioned

into a sort-of noose

around the base of the dogwood

after two or three anxious and

guffaw-stifled attempts.

Jumping back into the Malibu through

the opened windows, we hit the

ignition and dropped that beater into neutral.

The Grif's eyes went supersized.

We floored the Chevy and dropped it into

gear, screaming down the street

as fast as GM specs said we could.

Out of the rear window, I saw that sad

dogwood's every root seizing the

clay soil around it to hang on for dear life

as it flailed violently back and forth,

oscillating like a giant

jaw harp gone berserk---


You couldn't wipe the grin off the

Grif's face the next day. Old Furman,

however, was reduced to near tears

with his catastrophic discovery.

His "baby" was now more of a

stripped 12-foot stick --- every branch

violently torn asunder ---

drawn and quartered by a Chevy Malibu.

At this point, you may be harboring

strong sentiments of revulsion, o dear dads.

But this repugnant tale is a

cautionary one, I assure you.

With the coming of Spring in the

Northern Mind if not quite on the calendar,

this is a tale of renewal and rebirth

not unlike Persephone's perennial

return from you-know-where.

Furman, you must know, nursed his

dogwood stick to a full and flourishing

recovery. It towers mightily on that

suburban tree lawn; he will most

certainly welcome all your Arbor Day sentiments.

The Grif never ever bought Universal Life

and was never ever offered it again, though

after his untimely death he was condemned to sell

it to an indifferent clientele in Hades for the

balance of eternity.

And me? Well, some 20-odd dad-years later,

snail mail delivered the two

Mountain ash trees (sticks) required

in our community for the beautification

and forestation of our own tree lawns.

Oh, I fed 'em ("Mir-acid" even --- I

learned from a book I hunted down at

the library that Mountain Ash, like Timothy Leary, are

acid-loving, you know).

I watered 'em day-in and day-out.

Three years later they had finally

developed enough girth that I was

thankfully no longer tortured with

maudlin Bobby Goldsboro "Honey"

flashbacks every time I tended to my twigs.

One fine day, I awoke, brewed up a

caustic pot o' joe, and ambled outside

in the fine, fine summer sun to find

both trees viciously snapped in half;

one hanging by its xylem,

the other only by its phloem.

I shook my head, swigged a long, slow

Colombian swig and looked to the blue heaven.

"Guess I never did say I was sorry, did I?" I whispered into infinity.

Last "dads"
Past "dads"

2003 Arhythmiacs
Thanks and a tip o' the hat to the whaleheads at for needed inspiration.
Special thanks for the bandwidth
to the fine folks @

You never talk to your old dad!