An unhealthy dose of familial mental illness, mixed with smoking way too much weed in the ‘70s and a displaced sense of paternal attachment, left Zeke with nowhere else to focus his attention but the teenage girl on whom he spied from the cover of darkness and dense forest. The man had been in a semi-permanent state of self-medication since leaving his loathsome post in the Second Indochina Conflict with a distinct limp and rearranged neurological pathways. Needless to say, he foraged up some herb to subdue what the V.A. couldn’t legally quell for him.
But he satisfied his more pathological urges in vastly different ways.
The gravel lot at the shelter house hosted enough room for all the partygoers to converge on Falling Rock park, but Zeke’s paranoia kept him lurking in the shadows. He found a place amongst the trees with a thick cover of Black Jack and Pin Oaks in full June bloom where he skulked behind big leaves in a full face mask meant for Fall turkey-hunting, not stalking. From there he could spy on his ex-wife’s foster daughter and claim it was to keep an eye on her for altruistic purposes, not the twisted longings of a perverted old long-hair. It wasn’t a stretch to assume he sat out there with his pants down around his ankles.
He’d always thought a lot of Krissie, paid attention to the youngster although she was not his blood kin. It didn’t necessarily pique her foster mother’s suspicion since she was used to Zeke’s idiosyncrasies. She pretty much accepted his inquiries as to Krissie’s well being as nothing unusual. “He’s never had his own kids, so he’s just looking out for her,” she often said. She defended him with, “He’s lonely but a nice enough guy.”
Krissie’s mom would shit if she knew he was spying on teenage keg parties. His well-seeming attention had crossed over to creepiness. So far he hadn’t acted on anything he saw but was lying in wait of any teenage boy offering her illegal drugs or putting something in her beer cup. There would be hell to pay.
Some kind of misplaced loyalty to Krissie either took over Zeke’s idle time or he had to admit his obsessive perversion. He sat amongst the stick tights, chiggers and mosquitoes with a stick jabbing him in the left butt cheek to watch her. (Who does that?) Odd were against anyone slipping Krissie a mickey, but he felt emboldened at the off chance he could stop it from happening.
Zeke sat with one hand on his crotch-cobra and the other upholding a pair of Army- issue binoculars he’d nicked at discharge, his gaze fixed on the girl and a male companion talking beside the kid’s shiny BMW. His daddy’s car, no doubt. He adjusted the center focus wheel with his left index finger, more accurately centering on the boy, and begrudged the punk his prowess at conversation and automobile acquisition.
He began grinding his teeth back and forth with jealousy surging through his veins, the left barrell getting moist in his sweaty palm. The other hand was doing its own sinister work of self-abuse.
His guttural growl and chiseling away of enamel, as if he sat under a dentist’s toil, covered the sound of approaching footsteps. When Zeke finally heard the sound of a stick snapping close-by, he looked down from the lenses to see a size-14 boot beside his own on the ground. Looking upward, his gaze fixed on the giant that stood on such gargantuan shoes, height fairly matching the old-growth tree at Zeke’s left. An angry pimpled face pegged him for a teenager, but his bulk hinted otherwise.
Zeke started to bolt, dropping the field glasses in the process, but they caught on the straps around his neck. He grabbed his fly to hold up his pants but didn’t quite get to his feet before the burly guy grabbed Zeke’s neck strap and pulled him to standing. The boy snarled, “So whatcha doin’ back in these trees, buddy?”
A second guy, the other half of a pair of partiers who apparently ventured into nature’s bathroom, stepped up to where his buddy held Zeke by a coil of braided nylon digging into his Adam’s apple. Zeke gasped for air, his eyes growing large in panic, and heard the second man ask, “What the hell do we have here,” as he reached for something in his pocket.
Zeke wished he’d smoked just a little bit more before they got there.