The next twenty minutes are not sexy. Dave and I, determined to expose the source of this insectile music, have contorted ourselves into every possible shape in hopes of suspending one another low enough to touch the city that spans every inch of the basin, six feet below.
"Screw it. I'm just gonna step on a part of it. I'm at my wits end with this whole thing!" I declare, carefully lowering myself down the eastern wall of the pool.
"At your pants' end, you mean," he snickers.
Dave is referring to the two minutes I just spent dangling over the side, seizuring this way and that with my naked buttocks dangerously close to his face. He'd been holding my feet when my center of gravity shifted, see-sawing me forward. Naturally he grabbed at what should've been my belt and, with my uber-elastic pajama pants fully retracted, our relationship became irreversibly intimate. I was immediately aware of the cool night breeze caressing my hindquarters, but it took him a second to realize our new situation.
"I GOT YA GAVVY, I GOT --- oh, hey. hehe."
"PULL ME UP! PULL ME UP DAVE NOW" I franticked. My dirty laundry was long overdue so tonight (of all nights) I'd gone "commando."
"Hehehe... Why are you wearing these circus pants?!" he asked, trying to find somewhere appropriate to grab me. A dignity-destroying dance ensued.
"They're not---just... (grunt), get my --- pull..." and so on and so forth until I had regained my balance and repositioned my blowy pants. And now here is Dave, not adhering to the unspoken vow of silence honored by those who've shared an emasculating experience:
"A fellow free-baller, eh, Shmavvy?" he says, nodding towards m'nethers.
"Ho ho ho," I mumble, preparing to drop.
"Gavvy, Gavvy, WAIT! I've got it," he slaps his forehead like Doc Brown, "Ethan Hunt."
"What did you say?"
He breathes deep, "ETHAN. HUNT."
"Why are you calling me that?"
"Ethan Hunt... Mission Impossible, Gavvy?"
I hate it when he does this. I hate it when he baits me into this gradual revelation shtick when he could easily just tell me what he's suggesting.
I flip the script on him, "Ahhhh. Yes. Mission Impossible," and go inside to pee before he can regroup. When I return four minutes later, Dave hasn't moved, his hand poised in a perpetual slap, sudden realization frozen on his face. He awkwardly resumes, "Mission Impossible, Shmavvy."
"Totally," I bunt.
"Here's how we do it: we lower Aiden down with a rope harness - ETHAN HUNT STYLE!"
"Ya, totally. I LOVE Ethan Hunt style. WHO IS 'ETHAN HUNT'?!!" But just as the sarcasm leaves my mouth it dawns on me that he's referring to Tom Cruise's character in Mission Impossible, in that part where he lowers himself into a room with a hi-tech sex swing. Before I can acknowledge the reference, Dave is next door jail-breaking his son.
When I'm left alone with it, the micro city seems louder. The music has stopped, but I still hear... well, "activity," I guess? Forgive me, it is impossible for me to articulate exactly what I'm hearing---maybe I'm not even "hearing," just feeling things. I feel like I am being watched. You know that scene in Children of the Corn where the couple is wandering through the empty town, calling out to no avail while small figures dart in and out of their peripheral? Well, combine that scene with any number of scenes from Attack of the 50 Foot Woman and you'll understand. The city feels very pregnant, is what I'm trying to say.
I hear a screen door slam, and look toward Dave's house. Because of my proximity to our flood lights, everything beyond them is very dark, but I can make out two figures pressing themselves against the stone wall and then cutting their way across the backyard. Their individual brands of stealth are contradictory: Dave's canter is that of someone running barefoot on hot coals, while Aiden's looks like a penguin ducking gunfire. They clumsily scamper across the Mochassuck "River" by way of our rickety plank bridge and plant themselves on my lawn, breathless.
In the light I can see that Dave has added fingerless gloves to his excavation uniform. I point to them, "Nice."
He tosses me a matching pair, "You'll be needing these, my man."
When Aiden steps into the light I can see that he is hooded and wrapped in a pitch-black ninja costume. Most of his face is covered by a Lando Calrissian mask and he has a pair of nunchuks (well, what appear to be two cardboard paper towel rolls held together with a choke chain) tucked into the plastic ammo strip running up his ninja belly and over his right shoulder.
"I can't believe you dressed him up for this," I chide.
"I didn't, those are his pajamas," answers Dave matter-of-factly, scooping and clapping dirt into his palms.
Jungleboy (as he is known in these parts) remains fixed in a squatty pose, like he's hugging a medicine ball and crapping his pants simultaneously. "You ok?" I ask him delicately, so as not to embarrass him if he did indeed crap his pants during the escape. "How come you're standing like that?"
"This... (ugh) my dad... put this---," he gestures wildly towards the duct tape harness crisscrossing his groin,"Dad, can you... (gaah)?" I turn away as they attempt to untape some of his Jungleparts from some of his other Jungleparts so that he can stand upright again.
Soon Dave is parking the Bobcat at the lip of the pool and raising the Lift Arm to extend over it. I have secured one end of the rope to the waste band of Jungleboy's homemade harness with a series of girl-scout knots. Dave kills the engine and hops out of the cab to examine my work. He shakes his head, but doesn't untie anything. "You cool, little man?" he asks his son, trying to make eye contact through the mask.
"Ya, but... yah," he fiddles.
Dave throws the other end of the rope over the Bobcat arm to where I'm now standing on the other side, completing our pulley system.
With Dave reverse-bear-hugging him, I hoist Aiden up a few feet. The Lift Arm dips a bit, but holds. Dave releases the boy very slowly, gripping first his waste, then his thighs, then only his feet, until he is swaying gingerly over the center of the pool. We are quiet for a moment, shocked that it has actually worked... his angle, his pitch - it all looks very... Ethan Hunt. For a moment the only sound we can hear is the creaking of the rope against the arm.
Dave turns his attention to me, "NOW HOLD ON, GAVVY!" and runs around to take up the rope behind me. We lower the Jungleboy down in short jolts, each punctuated by his mock pain, "ooohh! ooof!"
When he is below our sight line Dave calls out, "Can you touch it?!"
"Ok, hold it exactly right there, Gavvy. Do you see what I'm doing here?" Dave instructs, crouching next to the tree trunk.
"Giving your son the ultimate wedgie?"
"I'm tying it off so we don't have to hold him the whole time."
He calls out each knot as he ties them, "Granny Knot. Square Knot. Becket..." and when he's finished tying three kinds of knot that he knows, we cautiously let go of the rope and again marvel at our handiwork.
"WHOAAAA COOOOOOOOL!" yells Jungleboy.
Dropping quickly to his stomach Dave scolds, "AIDEN DON'T TOUCH AN----" but is abruptly silenced when he sees that his son has successfully unhinged the roof of one of the little "buildings" and is lifting miniature objects out of it one by one, holding them away from his shadow and into the light for us to see: a dime-sized bed, a thimble-sized dresser, a button-sized throw rug.