The Writer's Cramp
A Strange Night
Herbert lay in his hammock. The two ash trees shaded it just right. A gentle breeze rocked him just so. The afternoon stretched before him with nothing to do. He sighed, closed his eyes. The dog settled beneath him.
Back and forth rocked the hammock. Back and forth waved the trees. The gentle breeze became a little wind. The little wind became a steady gust. Soon the hammock trapped Herbert. Dog whimpered at the back door to be let into the house.
Just as suddenly the wind stopped. Herbert disentangled himself from the hammock, then fell to the ground. He stood to see his yard littered with leaves from the ash trees. Trees once covered in those leaves now were bare skeletons.
Herbert saw dozens of round spheres in the yard on top of all the leaves. Perfectly formed balls, at least two feet in diameter, shiny silver, dotted the lawn. Dog slowly walked to one, lifted his leg. An arc of energy shot out, Dog lay motionless on the ground.
“What the holy mother of all is this…” said Herbert. He gingerly stepped away from the hammock, around one of the spheres to check on Dog. Dog still was alive, but seemed knocked out. “Well, I never ever saw anything…” He couldn’t even finish a sentence.
Herbert continued on around the yard, careful not to touch any of the spheres. Escaping into the house, he called the police.
“I want to report a strange invasion in my yard. I need to have someone come by and look at this,” he told the dispatcher.
“What’s the address?”
“920 Hiawatha Avenue”
“What kind of invasion?”
“Well, some kind of silver balls blew into my yard just a little while ago. They zapped my dog. They’re all over the yard. Please, I just need help.”
“Sir, I’m sorry but I don’t have any protocol for sending out a deputy for silver balls in your yard. Are you sure they aren’t someone’s old Christmas decorations?”
Herbert looked at the phone in disbelief. “Excuse me? No! They are not old Christmas decorations! They are strange, they are large, they are silver. They hurt my dog.”
“Sir, we have other problems tonight. People are reporting other incidents bigger than silver balls. Perhaps if you bag them up for the garbage men, all will be okay. Maybe some kids in the neighborhood are pranking you.”
Herbert slammed down the phone. “Pranks my butt. Okay fine. We’ll see how to play this game. I’ll try the ‘put the balls in the garbage bag’ trick.” He went back outside.
He dutifully grabbed an extra large bag, donned his BBQ gloves, and found the leaf rake. Using the rake, he found he could roll a ball into the bag with no problem.
“Well, alrighty then. One down, twenty more to go.” Soon the yard was full of black garbage bags which had the silver spheres safely inside.
“Now, to get them all to the garbage cans.” Using the wheelbarrow, he moved all the bags to the alley, then carefully placed each one in the garbage can. One by one, taking care to not touch the bags with his bare hands.
Herbert spent a restless night in the hammock. He watched over the still unconscious body of Dog. He watched over the garbage cans in the alley. He waited for the sun to come up. He waited for the garbage men to collect the black bags.
The large white garbage truck lumbered up the alley at the appointed time. It backed up to the garbage cans. Magically the cans were emptied into the truck. Then it continued down the alley.
Herbert breathed a sigh of relief. He laid back in the hammock. Dog stirred beneath him. A gentle breeze began to rock the hammock. Then the wind arose, then the trees rocked back and forth. Herbert again was entangled in the hammock. Dog again whimpered at the back door to be let inside the house.
Herbert disentangled himself when the wind stopped again. He stood up.
“What have you done?” A large person dressed in silver stood before him.
“Done? I was just laying in the hammock.” Herbert stood in shock.
“I left silver spheres here. Where are they?”
“Um, well, it’s hard to explain, um, you see,..” Herbert stammered.
“You will explain. Tell me,” demanded the large person dressed all in silver.
“First of all, who are you? And second of all, what were they? And third of all, what the heck is going on?”
“You will tell me or suffer the consequences.”
“Okay, now you see, this is just becoming a really bad B movie. I’m tired, I’m cranky, my trees are ruined, my dog is sick. I just came out here yesterday to enjoy my hammock, but no! Some big wind came up and had to take all the leaves off the trees, deliver some goofy big silver balls, which the police did nothing about, by the way. Then I had to bag up all those balls in the middle of the night and put them in the garbage and then wait up all night to make sure no one took them and also watch my dog. And then watch in the morning to be sure the garbage truck came to take those silver balls that were in the garbage bags. And then you show up.” Herbert took a deep breath. “So, go down this alley, take a left turn, go down Main Street about a mile. Turn on Route 12. Go about five miles, Turn on the Refuse Road. That is where the dump is. That is where you will find your precious silver balls. So you will kindly leave my yard. I’m going in the house now.”
Herbert turned and walked to the back door of his house. He let Dog inside, he walked in and locked the door, leaving the large person dressed in silver outside.