THE MASCOTS!

Princess Patricia took the casserole out of the oven and placed it on the counter. “Bucky call your brother, it’s time for dinner.” Without looking up from his homework, Bucky shouted,

“Dizzy! Mom says it’s time to eat!”

“You know I could have done that too,” Bucky’s mom walked past and patted his oversized head. Bucky tapped his enormous front teeth and laughed.

“So why didn’t you?”

“Good question. Is that the garage?” Bucky hopped out of his chair and ran to the widened side door to greet his father. The doorknob turned, and there was father in all his glory, the Green Maniac. His father dropped to one knee Bucky ran into his father’s arms, one slightly greener than the other.

“Bucky! What’s the word on the street?”

“I checked the rankings — you’re still #1!”

“No surprise there! And how’s your Mum?”

“She’s making dinner.”

“Well let’s go say hello then.”

The Green Maniac and Bucky Buckaroo funny walked into the kitchen.

“Hello, Mum.” The Green Maniac kissed his wife.

“Hello yourself. Just in time for dinner. Jeez, where’s Dizzy?”

“I’ll get him, Mum.”

“If you’re going to scream — “

“No, I’ll go up and get him.” Bucky bounced up the steps and down the hall until he reached the bedroom to the left of his parents. There was a large red KEEP OUT sign hanging by a thread, but Bucky never paid attention to that.

“Bucky c’mon Mum said — “his mouth felt like someone turned off the faucet.

“GETOUTOFHERE!” Dizzy jumped up and pushed his younger brother by almost four years back into the hallway. Bucky was too in shock to put up a struggle against his larger sibling. The door slammed shut, and Bucky ran downstairs.

“Mum, Mum, Mum!”

“What is it? Did you get your brother?”

“He — he was…he…” His father was in the living room, sitting in his chair. He was performing his nightly post-work ritual, drinking his ginger and rye and reading the paper. Without looking up, he said,

“Well spit it out Bucky.”

“He was talking to a girl!” The word caused The Green Maniac to spit half his drink onto the paper.

“What did you say?” Bucky ran into the room and repeated the words, still in shock.

“He was talking to a girl!”

“We will see about that!” The Green Maniac stood up, causing his newspaper to explode in the air like a cheap firework. Princess Patricia shouted from the kitchen,

“Now Green don’t you — “

“Stay out of this, Patricia!” The Green Maniac charged up the stairs without a funny bounce in sight. He paced down the hallway and reached for the handle, only to find it was locked. He banged on the door with severe intent.

“Dizzy! Dizzy the Whirling Tornado you open this door up right now!” Dizzy was many things, but stupid wasn’t one of them. He knew his father could flatten the door if he wanted to — hell that already happened three years prior. He knew not to test the old man. Dizzy opened the door and refused to make eye contact.

“Yeah?”

“Your brother told me…”

“My brother should mind his own business!” The Green Maniac’s eyes widened, and Dizzy backed down.

“Sorry.”

“Sit.” Dizzy listened to his father and sat on the edge of the bed; the Green Maniac sat down next to him.

“Your brother told me he saw you speaking with…a girl?”

“So?”

“So? Dizzy you’re a mascot. I’m a mascot. Your mom and your brother, we’re all mascots. And what do we do?” Dizzy knew this speech; he had heard it a million times and answered without enthusiasm.

“We entertain.”

“And who do we entertain?”

“The masses.”

“And what are the masses?”

“People.”

“And what’s the first rule of people?”

“We don’t get to know them.”

“AND WE CERTAINLY DON’T FALL IN LOVE WITH THEM!” Dizzy couldn’t help himself and blurted out,

“Marjorie and I aren’t in love!”

“Ohh so her name is Marjorie. And I suppose her father is a dentist and her mother sells Mary Kay?”

“You think you know so much about her, but you don’t.” The Green Maniac opened his mouth and paused. He needed his son to understand, and he knew what had to be said.

“Listen to me. I know…I know what you’re going through.”

“How? You don’t know what it’s like.”

“Oh, son but I do…I do.” His father’s eyes looked out the window, and the silence hung between them. Dizzy dared not breaking the spell. “Once, when I was a young Maniac there was a girl…”

“What? Really? Does Mum — “

“Quiet. And no your Mum doesn’t know so let’s keep this between us. Or we can try another route which won’t be as pleasant.” Dizzy knew it involved the Green Maniac’s massive oven mitts for hands and decided to shut up. “Good. When I was about your age, I was mascoting for the local minor league team where I was born. One day I was strolling through the crowd, minding my own business when I locked eyes with the prettiest human I ever saw. Even better, she thought I was the funniest damn thing she ever saw. The rest of the game, I hung out in her section, making her laugh, getting drunk off that laughter. It was intoxicating.”

“What happened?”

“What happened was the game ended, and she left with her dad. But before she did, she wrote her number on a piece of paper and shoved it under my belly for me to find later.”

“Did you call her?”

“You bet I did. I didn’t even wait for the next day, I called her that night, and we spoke until sunrise. It was the best night of my life…up till I met your Mum obviously.”

“Yeah. So how did it end?”

“You know how it ended. It ended with her father finding out about us and chopping off my left arm with a machete.” The Green Maniac held up his left arm for his son to look at, a different shade of green.

“You told us you lost your arm on a USO tour in Vietnam!”

“I know what I told you and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll remember that story too. But I’m telling you this now because you’re nearly a man and you deserve to know the truth.”

“Does Mum know?”

“I think she has her suspicions and she keeps it at that.”

“But Dad it’s different now. It’s not like it was back then. “

“I know that’s what you think, but Man doesn’t instantly forget its anti-Mascotian roots. They’ll be nice to your face, they’ll even invite you to dinner now, but they’ll never make you forget that you’re just a mascot. You exist to entertain, nothing more.”

“I can’t just stop talking to her.”

“No, unfortunately, I know how this is going to play out, and I know it’s useless for me to try and stop you from talking. You need to make this mistake now to prevent worse ones when you’re older. Just promise me one thing.”

“What is it?”

“You’ll never take off your suit.” Dizzy’s tongue rolled out of his mouth and hit the floor.

“I would never!”

“You say that now, son, but you don’t know what women are like. How persuasive they are. Just promise me you’ll honor your ancestors, who came from a different land. Promise me you’ll respect our traditions and not disgrace those who came before you.”

“I promise you.”

“Okay, I think if we don’t go downstairs and eat your Mum will blow her crown clear off her head.” The Green Maniac and Dizzy, the Whirling Tornado, stood up and shook hands. His dad turned to leave when Dizzy blurted out,

“Hey, Dad?”

“Yeah, son?”

“What if she’s pregnant?”

“The prophecy! It has come — ” The Green Maniac turned and clutched at his heart. He was dead before he hit the floor.

That night the moon turned a shade of red only talked about in ancient forgotten texts. At its apex, a baby was born “en caul.”

“My baby! Let me see my baby!” Marjorie stretched out her arms, alone, exhausted, and desperate to hold the most precious thing in the world. The older man stood in the afterbirth and leaned over, ritually disemboweling her. He dipped his fingers and sprinkled the blood on the baby’s forehead. Then, looking up at the night sky he chanted,

صندل های سبز در شب،

دریانوردان لذت ببرید

شلوار آبی در سحرگاه

زمان خوردن خزه