I was riding with Pops on highway 73 with the wind in my hair. I had my arm out the window and my hand was biting the air. I remember when times were peaceful and carefree like this. It was 75°F outside and I felt as if nothing could go awry. That’s when we hit something that flew out of nowhere. The fragile little car flew into the ditch on the side of the highway and my life was flashing before my eyes. What I didn’t configure at the time was that my pop’s life was being decimated at that very moment. The vehicle came to a halt, and I peered over to see Pops evaporate before my 7-year-old deep blue eyes. I ejected my seatbelt and managed to climb out only to collapse onto the muddy ground.
I turned around to capture the wreckage behind us as I witnessed something that appeared to be a puppet. What was a puppet doing in the devastation and why was it running for its life? I couldn’t fathom why a puppet was at the scene nor could I grasp why it was running! Puppets aren't alive and I thought I knew what I had heard about them. They are material objects and are playthings for children and such. Right? Perhaps I was hallucinating from being in shock.
Swiftly, emergency medical services arrived, and I witnessed the paramedics and firefighters struggle to get my pops out of that demolished miniscule car. I couldn’t utter with my mind what had just occurred and why was there a puppet fleeing like his life depended upon it? My memory was faltering more so over time.
I continued to see this puppet as I grew into my 20-year-old self. He would crop up in cafes and movie theaters. My life came near to an end, more than just that Sunday afternoon on highway 73 with Pops. I seemed as if I was headed for death, but I couldn’t figure out why. But each time I got close to being sent to the afterworld, I would capture that goofy puppet right after I would get off my face and wipe the sweat and dirt off of my forehead.
Now I was on an assignment to muster up courage to entrap said puppet. I remembered his eyes and how they bulged out of his fuzzy, wool head. And how the yarn for hair was a bright neon green. His apparel was like he was a walking anachronism. Suspicious to say the least, in my honest opinion. However, I could never recollect why this puppet emerged after every near-to-death event of my life. I named this puppet a name I could identify with: Mr. Quiggley. It seemed like a good name for something or someone I had so many inquiries about.
I went to the local sporting goods market on the corner of 50th and Squishire. I bought myself binoculars and other useful items such as a pocketknife, magnifying glass, and hiking boots. Now that I think about it, I didn’t require the hiking boots for this mission but regardless, they were on clearance, and I thought it a steal!
I was in pursuit. Sitting in my pick-up truck on the street of Mourforth on the west side of town. This was a particular location where I seemed to be targeted the most. In fact, the local town construction still didn’t repair the concrete curb that I rammed into with my last vehicle. It was initially annihilated seeing as they made everything in this town with frugality.
Then instantaneously, Mr. Quiggley was in proximity. His beady eyes were fixated on me. He knew I had my eyes pinned on him as well. He began to shriek! Once again, he fled the area. Only this time, a man who looked to be my age was following after him and he had a peculiar weapon in his right hand. They flung themselves onto a motorbike and rode off into the distance.
Alright, what had just occurred? Who was this man? He looked bizarrely familiar to my young 5-year-old self. His eyes were a hazel-green, that is if I can recollect well enough. He was wearing a black leather jacket and pale tight-fitted jeans. At the moment, this was all I could remember.
The journey continued in search of these indisputable criminals. I knew from the moment I spotted the weapon in his hand that he was an enemy. But what had I done to him, or this frenzied puppet? After the first traumatic collision with Pops my mind would black out and I would space. Everything before that event is fuzzy at even spectacular moments.
After Mr. Quiggley and his accomplice jot off on the motor bike, I jumped out of the pick-up and went into the ally they emersed out of. Then there it was, a wallet lying on the asphalt. I had their identity in my grasp at this point. I unfolded the worn black canvas pocketbook and to my surprise and confusion it was my kindergarten rival, James Markey. The memories flooded my mind as I dropped to my knees and began to weep. One memory in particular I remember socking James's right in the left eye and his glasses broke and the glass punctured his eyebrow. Now it made sense why he was there with Mr. Quiggley. But why was this mysterious puppet with my kindergarten target of all my incessant bullying? I felt grief for the puppet, and I was determined to find out the answers to my every question.
I thought about James that night and I knew that I was his adult hood prey. He obviously had a vendetta out for me after I belittled him every day at school. But what could drive someone to destroy another human or employ a puppet to be their partner in crime? It seemed as if Mr. Quiggley was being used by James to do his evil bidding.
My quest had changed at that point in time once I came to this revelation. My new assignment: avail Mr. Quiggley from the wicked clutches of James Markey. I know after I free the melancholy puppet from James that I would be greeting an even more excruciating death wish. But I was determined. Mr. Quiggley was being tortured to perform such perfected schemes. I had to do something and something quick.
The next morning at 0700 hours I was wide awake after the alarm buzzed throughout my flat. I combed my hair and put on my over coat and went out the door. I walked to the thrift shop to buy myself an undercover outfit. I was walking where I was going now as I feared getting into any sort of machinery.
The thrift shop had just what I needed. The black ninja look arose into the moment as I stood there in the fitting room in my black sweats and black stocking cap. Then there they were! The black sunglasses without a scratch on them. They were mine!
I smiled as I exited the building with my new-found disguise. It was an adrenaline rush to buy things that were necessary to keep me safe and concealed. I was into success, and I could feel it. Would I receive an award or a trophy? Nah, most likely I would not but it was a glorious sentiment. Right?
It was 2100 hours on McFeary Street. I was camped beside the dumpsters, and it wasn’t a refined position to say the least. The Chinese restaurant’s back door kept slamming open against the brick wall and the chef threw out customers leftovers into the dumpster. I have to admit, the aroma made my stomach rumble. I hadn’t had a bite to eat since that morning, but I was relentless. I wasn’t giving up on what I was meant for. But the thought of injecting Chinese noodles and beef made my mouth salivate. No! Resist Michael! You can do this!
Then there they both were. Mr. Quiggley’s beady eyes and James in that torn leather jacket. They were walking down the sidewalk. I knew James had it out for me and was in search of slaughtering me by another turbulent attempt at destruction. “Not this time James!”, I shouted in my thoughts.
I picked myself up off the ground and jotted behind them as a discreet spy like I had seen in movies. I was close behind them both and they turned into a corridor on the left. It was getting easier to pick up their scent. I felt like a wolf in the wilderness searching for its next meal to devour. Then I shifted my focus into getting Mr. Quiggley into his liberation. The view I had of myself as a wolf then transitioned into a detective searching for a young child in the hands of a kidnapper. I was going to be a hero, wasn’t I? Or was I setting myself up for impending doom? At any rate I was still doing what I set out for.
It just so happened that it began to storm. The wind was rushing into my face and the temperature was dropping. I had to find shelter but was this all a set up? Did James lure me into this? Did he know that the weather would get me spooked? I had a gut feeling that this was all a deviated plan. He knew I was onto them, didn’t he?
I became more aware to me that he was a master at this, although I was still alive and breathing. Considering he hadn't achieved his desire to eradicate me, there may be a shred of hope. I was resilient now, wasn’t I?
I hadn’t scoped out the notorious motor bike as of yet, but I had a feeling it would be coming into my view. James would have devised a clever way of escaping once again. I was proportionately dumfounded when James stopped in his tracks and slowly turned around and looked me dead straight in my eyes. I was in for another shock when he shouted at me, “What are you here for? To hit me in my eye again? Well, you little!! I don’t have glasses anymore, you, see? I have sought you out since that day you humiliated me in front of Abby May. I was infatuated with her, and you ruined me for the last time! So, com’on now! Let’s do this right here, right now!”
I stiffened my upper lip and sweat dripped and clanged to my brow. I squinted my eyes and said to him with all fiber in my being, “You let Mr. Quiggley go! He doesn’t want to do your disgraceful injunctions anymore! Let him go! He’s innocent! You’ve made him your clown!”
James looked at me puzzled now and asked me, “Who is Mr. Quiggley? This is George, my best friend since I was 3 years old. My mum gave him to me after I turned 2-years-old. He is all I’ve ever had after my mum and dad died in a dispute over my uncle. I was detrimental to me since then. Please...”
I stopped him before he could continue, “James, are you all alone without, uhm, George?”
“Well, I guess so.”
I persisted, “Why have you been using, uhm, George to get to me and murder me?”
He began to stutter, “You, you, ruined my life! I was getting to know Abby May and she liked me. I think, uh, uh, please, I need George.”
Then I made an offer to James and George that I never thought I could muster up, “James, how ‘bout you and George come and stay the night in my flat and I will prepare a meal for you. It’s okay, I am not going to sock you upside your eye again, ha. Come now.”
James and George looked at each other perplexed but they shrugged their shoulders, and we walked in the dreary rain to my flat to begin a friendship that would last the rest of our lives.