The moon, it’s a sight in the early morning shadows and colours. As much as the sun we live and die under the very same moon. The majority of my good times have been guided under the soft presence of the moon light in the early hours of the morning. It seems to me the situation is always right when the day is taken in and a new chapter unfolds.
The Boyz were all lying out on the back deck, where the picnic table had been moved and the majority of the party had been. The place was littered with plastic cups and garbage, except for the spots each of The Boyz had cleared for themselves. Migs sat on top of the yacht, strumming away and playing an old Faces tune, I think. Everybody was a little intoxicated, but for the most part we were all in that fuzzy warm place you sometimes all get to.
The party had been a lot of work. Keeping idiots from ruining the inside of the house was a challenge. Ramon made a deal with a few of the older and larger lads that came over – if they watched the doors, they’d get the yacht to sleep in for the night. It worked like a charm, and I noticed a few of the girls had gone missing. Seems age and muscle were something of a benefit in those days.
V and Gloria were saying goodnight to us from their porch
“Goodnight Boys – don’t stay up too late….” V said as she opened the front door.
“Yeah, you guys got to wake up early and clean this place up!” Gloria said in a mock-motherly tone. They both began to laugh as the front door slammed, and they were gone.
“I don’t know about you guys, but I’m hitting one more joint…” Luey said as he began to roll on the picnic table.
“What’s this thing about the Caged Lion, you said you needed to talk to us about?” Luey grinned sarcastically as he sparked the joint.
“Oh shit, Mr.Soft!!” I said as I jumped up from a spot I had just cleared myself on the deck.
“I forgot all about him – hey, do any of you want to go for a midnight swim?” I asked coyly.
“It’ll be risky….and I know a lot of you guys get scared, and it’s alright to be scared. I wore diapers once too…” Now I was just winding them up, I smiled!
“I’m in” Stew said, and the rest followed quite willingly.
“Good – ’cause we need to get going, I can explain the rest in the van.” I said as I ran inside to grab some towels.
Jay-Bird and the rest of The Boyz piled into the old VW van. They were already waiting for me with the van in gear as I hopped in the open door and we sped off. Jay looked back at me and asked “Where the hell are we goin’ anyway?”
“How many beer have you had Jay-Bird” Ramon yelled as Jay-Bird stopped for a red light.
“Two, I swear, and that was hours ago.” He yelled back in a voice of sincerity and confidence.
“He did Ramon, I watched him…” Stew said in a monotone, which kind of made it hard to believe.
“No really Ramon, I was with Jay-Bird all night….he has been sober as a Jay-Bird!!” Treefrog said while laughing at his own bad joke sitting shotgun.
“Besides I got my brother’s Licence, we’re good to go…” Jay-Bird said as the light turned green and the van began to move.
“Turn right here!” I said to Jay-Bird.
He hit the brakes hard and cranked that wheel – we were probably on two wheels for a second or two.
“Wait, slow down – here, park it here and turn off the engine and lights.” I said.
As Jay-Bird manoeuvred the van into a parking space on the side of the street, I began to tell The Boyz about the Caged Lion.
“First,… you’ve got to all know we are breaking into the outdoor pool uptown with the Olympic height diving boards.” I began.
“The one in Bayridge Park?” asked Mikey from the back.
“Yeah, that one….Well this is the plan, and I’ve got to state upfront that I’m not happy about this, but it is the only way I could think of to get Mr. Soft the day off. He missed out on tonight and he’ll miss out on tomorrow if we don’t do something. Pearce needs him, but we need him more – the only problem is that he’s gonna have to get arrested. But don’t worry he’ll be out in the morning. We’ll have him call Pearce and he’ll have to give him the day off – then it’s the WCP!!” I was a little over exited and it showed. The Boyz were still stuck on the arrest part – and that showed.
“What we’re going to do is get Mr. Soft to follow us through the main gate – after Davidido picks the lock. Once inside I will purposefully relock the gate and make sure that Mr. Soft is aware of this, so the second part of the plan works in full….You see, when the police come – which they obviously will once we do a couple cannon balls from the high board – we’ll make a dash towards the North fence..”
“But the North Fence is twenty feet high!” Luey barked back at me.
“Eighteen actually….We all climb the fence and hop over the top and down the other side, get back to the van and home to before we pick up Mr. Soft at the police station…”
“Why home before we pick up Mr. Soft?” Davidido asked.
“….Because Stew is going to act like Mr. Soft’s father when the police call our house. We’ll be there in minutes to pick him up, R.J. will play the part of Mr. Soft’s brother. He’ll go in and ask the police saying; ‘His parents are too angry to come in, so would you guys (the police) be kind enough to release him into my (his fake brother) custody?’… They will and he’ll be off with us to the WCP!”
“Won’t Mr. Soft try to hop the giant fence with us?” Ramon seemed a little more than just confused and this was more than just a question, he was probably still a bit shaky on the arrest part. That meant to him it was a question of honour – The Boyz were about a different type of honour, and I did not have to remind Ramon this. He knew. I just had to reinforce it a bit, and show him why this was the most honourable thing to do.
The most important thing to all of us was our friendship, if this is what motivated us to become so close, this was also what would cause concern and motivate a defensive stance. I had to respect it, as Ramon had to respect the fact that this whole plan – in a chaotically genius, if not stupendously stupid way – was centered on the freedom of our brother. The freedom of our brother to party with us on what could be the greatest Weekend Cottage Party ever! And this is exactly what I said to make Ramon agree to the plan. Once he was in – we were on!
“Remember the time Mr. Soft tried to hop that five foot fence in his North Face down winter vest. It was last Fall when the crops were just being harvested for the last time. He was there helping us harvest and that helicopter flew over us, twice. He freaked out and made a run for it. We stuffed everything into our sacks and hoofed it six kilometres back to the G.R. to stash it. We met up with him halfway there – he was caught up in the fence….”
“Oh yeah, he ripped that vest….I remember” Luey began to smile as he said this, as did a couple of the other Boyz.
“He didn’t even make it over to the other side until we got there…” Davidido chuckled.
“Not until you and I help him over!” Mikey said and then we all started to laugh.
“He was crushed about that vest though…” Treefrog leaned from shotgun and said.
“Yeah, he really was.” I had to agree.
“How’d he rip it anyways?” Jay-Bird asked now swivelled around in his driving seat.
Treefrog began to laugh and we all chimed in, but not as hard as he was laughing. He began to speak – he had to catch his breath first though.
“He said he threw it over the top of the fence, like he had seen in the movies…” We all began chuckling.
“…..And that when he pulled himself up onto the vest to get over he heard it rip…” Treefrog began laughing, even harder this time. “….As it would, when you weigh well over two hundred and fifty pounds and you heave yourself up tugging on nylon and feathers…” He had almost started to convulse as he said the last part.
We all kind of joined in with our own laughter as we were all there and we all remembered it exactly as if it had happened yesterday. Although at this point, mostly we were all laughing at the fact that Treefrog could not keep straight.
“Mr. Soft and fences don’t get along!” I quipped to Ramon.
“That was a really long way of answering my question!” Ramon shot back with a grin. Treefrog was still trying to catch his breath in shotgun.
“So where’s Mr. Soft anyways?” Davidido began asking me, but before he could finish I began to smile and said “Right there…” as I pointed out the front windshield toward the street.
At that exact moment Mr. Soft began to walk across the intersection – no more than ten feet ahead of our parked van. The Boyz all looked and saw him and then they looked back at me dumbfounded! I grinned pompously.
“Do you like … stalk him?!” Stew asked again in a monotone. It was actually getting pretty creepy the second time ’round.
“No you idiot, I just know he walks home the same way at the same time and this is where we needed to be…Now let’s go get him!!” I said, still beaming at the perfect timing.
“Like clockwork…” I mumbled to myself as we opened the passenger door to the side of the van.
R.J. had fallen asleep with a partially eaten cupcake wrapper in his mouth and Ramon was trying to wake him up. The rest of us hopped out of the van through the side door and ran out to greet Mr. Soft.
“Hey, Shruggly Soft!!…”
“Hey, Mr. Soft!…”
“Hey there Softy!!!…”
“Softilicious?! Stew, really?! Who the hell says that?!!” Davidido stopped mid greeting and questioned Stew, looking directly at him in an aggressive stance.
We all began to laugh together. Mr. Soft had started to slap hands with some of the Boyz.
“How the hell are ya Mr. Soft?” I asked him as I walked up. Luey, Stew, and Treefrog were sneaking up behind him. Before I could warn him…
“What Ya Up To, Mr Soft?!!…” Luey, Stew, and Treefrog all scared the crap out of him. He had his Discman strapped to his belt, but his earphones were around his neck. When he spun around he caught his headphone cord and he inadvertently yanked his Discman from his belt’s clip. Luey and Stew both dove at the falling Discman. They collided in mid air – Luey rose, Discman in hand.
“Thanks Boyz, wow maybe you should try out for the team, nice recovery! Thanks Luey…” Mr. Soft was always overly appreciative.
“What up Boyz?!….” He smiled and slapped hands with Luey, Stew, and Treefrog once he had clipped his Discman back on his belt.
“How was the party?” He asked.
“It was alright…. a sixty-foot yacht, bikini clad women, live band, and beer….the usual, you know…” Davidido said mockingly.
“There wasn’t a sixty foot yacht?!” Mr. Soft paused slightly before responding. (Probably because everything except for the yacht could be found at Pearce’s during the summer)
“There was…Handy’s yacht….in our driveway!!” Luey said casually, as if it happened all the time.
It was at this point that I had to interjected and get back onto The Caged Lion plan. I began to feel real nervous and couldn’t help thinking that maybe I was letting a buddy down. Pearce had been adamant that he needed Mr. Soft this weekend. He was running the place shorthanded as it was. With me and two of the other employees, a waitress and a bouncer off, he needed Mr. Soft. Pearce had told us that “Unless Mr. Soft is arrested or he’s dead, he’d better show up for that bloody shift – or he can consider himself sacked!”
Mr. Soft had also thanked me repeatedly for getting him this job. It was either this or his parents were going to ship him off to some European prep school for the summer. It was get a job or start packing. Needless to say we got him a job. Pearce liked the fact that Mr. Soft had size – “Intimidation is all that really matters – It’s a done deal!!” Old Pearce would say. But Mr. Soft was, like it or not, at Pearce’s mercy when it came to scheduling and shifts. Most of the time he was a pretty lenient guy when it came to these matters, he’d let Mr. Soft off for a few weekends in a row so he’d be able to attend football camps. And he’d even rearranged the schedule last weekend for a surprise invite down to an American camp. Pearce was not about to budge on this. Drastic times called for drastic measures.
I had gone over it in my head a million different times. The worst I figured he’d get was a Disturbing the Peace violation and a ticket, as long as nothing was broken and we just all fled the scene. Hell, he might even get a ride home and not even see the station. All I had to do was remind him to call us at home – they’d definitely let him use a phone. All that he had to do was ask. I just had to remind him to call us first and we’d call Pearce and then come get Mr. Soft at the station as planned. When was I going to break it to him though and how was he going to take it? These things bubbled in my brain as we made our way towards the pool area at the center of Bayridge Park. Ramon’s insecurities seemed to transfer unto my psyche and I started to second guess this whole idea. By this time it was too late. We had made it to the pool area and Davidido had begun to pick the lock. I looked over at Mr. Soft, my face must have had some sort of doubtful emotion written all over it, because Mr. Soft looked at me quizzically and then asked “What’s up Rodney? You look worried about somethin’…”
Just then Davidido popped the Mastercraft lock and yelled “We’re in Boyz, C’mon…” and we all filtered through the doorway and into the pool area. I made sure to lock the gate behind us, which meant that there was no turning back and The Caged Lion was now in full effect. By the time I turned around half of the boys were already stripped down to their boxers and running towards the pool. Ramon and Luey had purposefully stayed near me.
“I hope this all works out for your sake.” Ramon said with a tinge of discontent in his voice.
“Why?” I enquired, not really listening and still shuddering inside with those negative vibes from before.
“Because…” Luey began, “…Mr. Soft will want to kick your ass if this doesn’t go the way you’ve planned it!”
He was right, and I knew it. So did Ramon who was looking back at us with that ‘I told you so’ grin on his face as he ran toward the pools edge carefully removing his shoes and socks all while still moving in the pool’s direction. Stew had begun to climb the high diving board ladder. The rest of the Boyz were running around the pool’s deck hooting and hollering, creating quite a stir. I quickly stripped down to my boxers and did a forward summersault into the deep end of the pool. Davidido had snuck off to the kiddie pool along the side. Nobody was paying attention to him as we were all transfixed on Stew, now at the top of the diving board.
“Swan Dive?” Stew said in an inquisitive tone, as if requiring us to acknowledge him before he dove. The Boyz all circled around, all treading water, they began to chant.
“Swan Dive…Swan Dive…Swan Dive…”
I could see the lights in the upper part of the house directly behind the diving board come on, which meant we were making enough noise and soon the police would be on their way. It must have been about four-four thirty a.m., and we were as loud as if it were mid-day swimming time. The splashing alone would have woken the neighbours!
Davidido crept up behind us and launched into a cannonball from the side of the pool area. By the time we turned around to see what Stew was snickering at his splash and sub sequential wave had hit Treefrog, Mr. Soft, and I directly in our faces. Treefrog must have had his mouth open, because he began to choke a little immediately.
“Nice one…cough…cough…asshole!” he said sarcastically to Davidido through his coughing.
The Boyz all focused on Stew and began to chant once again. I made my way over towards Davidido who was now treading water on the other side of the pool in mid chant.
“What the hell were you doing over in the kiddie pool?…All I could see was you bare arse as we jumped in and then my focus went to Stew.” Stew began to bounce and on the third bounce he was airborne.
“I was taking a dump…” Davidido said with a smile. Stew hit the water just as he said this.
“You were what?” I asked as Stew’s splash had made it damn near impossible for me to hear Davidido.
“I left a log for the kids to play with!” Davidido said with a smile as he lifted himself out of the pool and ran towards the ladder of the diving board while giggling.
The rest of The Boyz began to laugh as they heard him. R.J. and a few others were right behind him on the ladder. They were all heading for the top when we noticed the first set of headlights coming towards the entrance. It was the police. We all knew we had about five minutes before they’d make it inside. Ramon was right behind R.J. on the ladder and was telling him to hurry because he wanted to get one dive in before we took off. Davidido was bouncing on the board and just before he flipped himself forward he smiled and yelled “I took a poo in the kiddie pool!” to the laughter of all us Boyz.
The Boyz hurried their way off each one at a time. R.J. and Ramon both did a cannonball. R.J. nearly cleared the water out of the pool – it was the biggest splash I’d seen in my life. The rest of us were scrambling towards our clothes. We all were in quite a rush and then it came…
“Everybody stay right where you are!…” a voice said from behind the glaring headlights that were conveniently blinding us. Another two sets of headlights began to cut off the second and third fence, leaving the giant northern fence as the only open escape route. This meant that the plan was working, but it also meant we had to climb up eighteen feet of fence and back down the other side real fast – another cruiser was most likely on the way to cut it off. Luckily it was protected by a line of shrubbery that would act as a deterrent for the police cruiser and cause the officers to get out of their vehicles and track us on foot. It was perfect!
We all rushed the northern fence. I jumped on and grabbed hold as high as I could. I scaled that fence faster than I had ever scaled a fence before in my life. Funny, at times like these all my senses seem to go numb and I begin to hear music. Not the type of music that can be expressed on popular radio, nor is it the type of music that could be termed classical, it’s my music – my excited soul singing to the gods above. Everything else just fades away.
Once I reached the top and flung my leg over I looked down and the bottom was covered over with a morning mist. Ramon was right beside me. We both looked forward only to see the fourth set of headlights now coming directly for the line of shrubbery, twenty five feet ahead of us with only its tips poking out from above the mist. I remember looking down and then looking at Ramon. The music broke at that very moment and all I remember is Ramon mouthing the word “JUMP!!”
This seemed insane, almost two storeys high, you were bound to brake, fracture, or sprain something when you landed. All I could do is watch in utter disbelief as Ramon pushed off the fence and fell towards the mist below. It swallowed him up and left no trace that he’d even been there. It reminded me of one of my favourite scenes from a movie called Lost Boys, where Kiefer Southerland drops from holding on to the bottom of a track covered bridge into the fog below and Jason Patric is left horrified at the thought of doing the same. In this moment I became Jason Patric’s character, and I was horrified that I would break myself doing what Ramon had just done. All of the sudden a voice from the bottom shouted up “C’mon guys…you can do it….let’s get out of here!…” It was Ramon, he’d made it – now it was my turn.
Mr. Soft had courageously made it half way up the first side and then fallen back onto the ground below. He was struggling with the fence as expected. You could hear the hurried fear in his actions as the police had now unlocked the Mastercraft lock on the far side of the pool. The officers that had pulled up in front of us were now out of their cruiser and on the way. I took one deep breath and a huge leap of faith. The music began again and I felt like I was floating in a world that moved by in slow motion. The mist swallowed me as well and the ground came up hard and fast. I sprang forward and turned my momentum into a forward roll. When I regained my balance and got to my feet I rushed to the fence to get Mr. Soft`s attention.
“Mr. Soft!…Mr. Soft!!…” I called.
“I’m screwed…get the hell out of here!” he called back at me.
“Soft, call the house and we’ll come get you – pretend you are calling home, but call the house. Don’t worry Mr. Soft – everything will be just fine. Remember to call the house though, ok?” I merely had a few seconds before I’d be caught too. The rest of The Boyz were landing all around me behind where I was standing. I was facing Mr. Soft and he looked scared.
“Don’t worry Mr. Soft – It’s just the fuzz – all you gotta do is call the house and not home. I gotta get goin’ here. We’ll be there to get you, don’t worry!” As I said this, a flashlight from behind me began to shine directly into Mr. Soft’s face and on the backside of my head. He squinted as I made a break for it. The last thing I heard was him agreeing to call the house, and then the music started up again.
I made a dash towards the walkway that took you from Bayridge Park to the main subdivision. By this time the police had given up chasing us on foot and jumped back into their cruiser and come right up onto the field. I don’t really remember them yelling or saying a thing. All I remember was that I was focused on the pathway – somehow I knew that if I made it to that pathway I’d be safe. The rest of the boys had spread out and gone their separate ways. Just my luck the cruiser had focused on me. I ran faster than I’d ever ran in my life and this time it felt as if I was running for my life. The music just wouldn’t stop, but when I reached the pathway I decided to run halfway down and jump into the neighbouring yard and hide under the bushes. I figured the police had to exit their cruisr and would assume that I had escaped into the connecting subdivision. I hopped the encasing fence and hid directly at the foot of the walkway, covered by the bushes lying face down.
My heart was beating so hard I figured the police would hear it through my chest. Two flashlights came bouncing down the pathway to its very end as the officers tried in desperation to catch up with me. I opened my eyes and I could see two sets of boots in the distance. Slowly, each set made its way back towards me. Both officers were flashing their lights on either side of the fence. It was almost as if they sensed my presence. They did not say a thing to each other as they meticulously searched with their flashlights for any trace of where I might be. When they were directly over top of me I held my breath and closed my eyes, listening carefully. They seemed to hover there for an extended period of time. I thought they were toying with me as the will power needed to hold my breath was now becoming physically impossible. Just as I found myself wanting to gasp for breath, they were gone. Well not gone, congregated actually, with four other officers at the mouth of the walkway’s opening to Bayridge Park. I could hear them talking.
“Well, we got one of them…”
“Only one, man there must have been about twelve of them altogether…”
“Yeah, and they took a shit in the kiddie pool…”
“They shit in the kiddie pool?! That’s disgusting….”
At this point I almost could not hold the laughter in, I think in trying to I may have peed my pants a bit. It was just too funny to hear!
“Make sure that ends up in the report!…”
“I’m gonna circle around and see if I can catch any of them making their way home or whatever – you take the one we got down to the station, give him a ticket and have him call his parents to pick him up…”
“They’ll be easy to spot, they’re all soaking wet…”
“Idiot kids, shitting in the kiddie pool – that’ll get him an Indecent Act violation at the very least…”
“If it weren’t for that, the kid we caught is stone sober – we could have just fined him for trespassing and that would be that…Idiot kids….Wish we could’ve caught more of ’em…Shitting in the kiddie pool…Idiots!”
“Yeah, well at least one of ’em will pay for that type of behaviour…”
And with that they split up back to their cruisers and were off. I lay there for a few moments in a state of semi-shock. ‘We made it’ I thought to myself as I turned over onto my back and took a deep breath of the early morning air. It was damp with the taste of freshly cut grass. I smiled and got myself to my feet. I pulled a cigarette from my pocket and lit it. Now all I had to do was make it back to the house and meet up with the other Boyz. It was about a forty-five minute jog home from Bayridge Park. I finished my smoke, pitched the butt and started to jog. I figured that if I took the pathways home at least I could avoid meeting the same officers on the way home. Plus I couldn’t wait to get back and tell The Boyz about how I just barely got away and what I overheard when the police saying. I smiled to myself and quickened the pace. All I hoped was that if I did not make it back in time for Mr. Soft’s phone call that The Boyz would know what to do and follow the plan to completion.
I finally made it back to the house. Jay-Bird and R.J. were just getting into the van, on their way to pick up Mr. Soft.
“Where the hell have you been?” Jay-Bird asked.
“I’ll tell you all about it later – did Mr. Soft call yet?” I asked all wide eyed with adrenaline from the night’s adventure.
“Yeah, we’re on our way to pick him up now. I just hope the fuzz let him come with me like you said. I hope they don’t want to talk to his parents…” R.J. still seemed a little shaken from all that had happened.
“Don’t worry. Worst case scenario, if they ask you to get “your” parents you just go outside and come back in, pretend like “your” parents got so mad they left you guys to walk home – what can the police do? They’ve got to let you guys go home. They’ll have better things to do than babysit you idiots…” I smiled hoping to lighten the burden that R.J. seemingly carried.
“What if they don’t though?” He responded, still not fully believing it would be that easy.
“They will. Don’t worry about it. Now get on down there and get Mr. Soft. Meet us all back here – I’ve got some fresh cupcakes in the fridge when you get back, o.k.?” I lied about the last part, but figured it would give R.J. some kind of incentive. It worked and they were off.
As I walked up the stairs of the porch Gloria and V came out for their morning jog.
“You know I was just kidding about the early morning clean-up!” Gloria hollered over.
“I’m just getting in, the house party was only the beginning!” I hollered back. “Stop in after your jog and we’ll tell you all about it!” I said as the girls past by on the sidewalk jogging.
“OK, we will – but put some coffee on. Gloria forgot to set the timer on our machine last night.” And with that they were off down the block and around the corner before I could respond.
Once I got inside the sweet smell of mary jane wafted from upstairs. I could hear all The Boyz talking and joking around. I went into the kitchen first and poured myself a bowl of cereal and then made my way to the smoking room. All of The Boyz were there, most were passed out on the couches and the floor, but Ramon, Migs, Davidido, and Luey were still up. Ramon and Luey were explaining to Migs how the whole “Caged Lion” ordeal had gone down. In the background “Rooster” by Alice In Chains was quietly setting the scene. Davidido was smoking a joint and was the first to notice me enter.
“Rodney, Rodney, Rodney,…what the fuck happened to you? Why didn’t you meet us back at the van like planed? We waited for like half an hour, but figured you got busted too. What happened buddy?” Davidido passed me the joint, which I accepted as I collapsed into my Lazy-Boy.
I went on to tell them about how I almost got busted and that the cops were talking about how they found Davidido’s “log” in the pool. I told him that they were not impressed, but I could hardly keep from exploding with laughter. That’s when I remembered that I thought I’d almost peed my pants, so I excused myself to take a shower – passing the joint onto Migs. I told Luey he should make some coffee as the girls were coming over to hear all about our adventure.