Revenge of the Swamp

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Chapter 7

Tim looked at his secret pet, Matrix, the one-foot long baby blue Axanthic iguana he had bought from the Willie the Weasel’s friend’s pet shop in the neighboring district.

Matrix was gorgeous, turquoise blue, like a jade object. He got Matrix for forty dollars, thanks to Willie the Weasel who did all the talking. The price tag was a whopping one hundred dollars!

The pet shop owner, a wiry little man who looked as miserable as his pet shop, kept on grumbling about letting it go for that price since it was so rare and beautiful. Willie the Weasel paid the man and told Tim it was a gift. Tim was stunned. He only had twenty-one dollars in his pocket. Unbelievable, Willie the Weasel giving him a gift? Boy, he must be in real big trouble with the law!

Tim had always wanted an iguana as a birthday present. Good thing mom and dad didn’t go shopping in the neighboring district. He wasn’t going to spoil this by buying it in any of the local pet shops where the owner could recognize him on the street and ask him about how Matrix was doing. What if he happened to be walking with his mom or dad? They surely would like to know why he had gone and bought a pet dragon as his mom always called iguanas.

So, he had gone and done a clever thing as to buy Matrix far from home. The problem was, how to keep Matrix in a safe place. Where was he going to keep his pet? A few days before purchasing Matrix, Tim took a scouting ride up his street. He was looking for a good home for Matrix. He found the ideal place three blocks away in the not so well-kept neighborhood. There were a lot of abandoned houses, some dating back to the time when a real estate developer had bought the area intending to build a pleasure center and shopping mall. Something about money problems had put the project on hold.

Tim couldn’t appreciate what the big fuss was about. He had heard some big words like ‘embezzlement’ and decided it wasn’t any of his business to scratch his head and try to comprehend what all the adults were on about. His problem was where to house Matrix.

He chose an abandoned house. It was roofless. The roof had collapsed after a fire guttered the house. Tim chose it because it was inhabitable for humans. This assured him, nobody would come snooping about and disturb Matrix. Every day he would cycle to visit Matrix. They would play…

This was until one day he came and found Matrix gone. He spent hours searching for him until it got too dark for him to see. It was one of the most miserable days in his eleven years. He wouldn’t eat, he couldn’t sleep. He kept remembering that there was a house close by, yeah, that booby-trapped house which belonged to some old crazy nut called Jarvis. All the boys knew about Jarvis, the old man who behaved and looked just like Ben Gunn in Treasure Island. Yeah, I wouldn’t want to be caught snooping around the old tin pot’s place.

They say old man Jarvis always carried a shotgun and didn’t hesitate to use it at the slightest provocation. Tim kept thinking, maybe, just maybe Matrix has gone and played in old man Jarvis’ place. There was one way to find out. Tim rubbed his eyes and shook his head. Going to search for Matrix on an abandoned property was one thing. Trespassing old man Jarvis’s property was not something he fancied doing. It was too dangerous.

Old man Jarvis was a trigger happy, crackpot, who wouldn’t hesitate to shoot anyone who dared step on his property. They also said his sight was not so good. He lived alone and was strange and wild. Some say the war had screwed up his head.

I don’t want to go snooping around any weirdo’s house, Tim decided.

Tim’s parents were both horrified when he tried, a year earlier, on his tenth birthday, to persuade them into buying an iguana as his birthday present. They both sat him down in the lounge, something they had never done before. Meaning they were seriously worried about him. They asked him searching questions about why he would want to do a crazy thing like this.

They had an ‘educational discussion’ with him about the dangers of keeping alien exotic pets. They said something about hygiene, safety and upsetting everyone, especially his sister Elizabeth and mom, who both had expressed their horror at his suggestion. No lizards in this house. Definitely not the big, ugly, dragon-like lizards.

“Honey, what would the neighbors say? And grandma, she would have a heart attack,” his mom said this as she tried to persuade him to instead accept the remote-control one-foot high toy helicopter they had bought for him. Tim felt kind of let down. Why were my parents so insistent on pleasing everyone else but me? It isn’t my fault Elizabeth is scared of iguanas. She was scared of everything that so much as crawled or skated across their yard. Why must I always have to forgo what I want just to please Elizabeth?

Tim traced a familiar path to his newly found favorite spot at the secret pool hidden in the deep dark vines of the swamp. He hid his bike like he always did, in the thick bushes away from prying eyes, in case some nosy person should come walking by and discover his and Rufus’s secret pool. He removed the goods he had brought for Rufus. There were picture books, a memory stick full of video clips for Rufus to watch. One thing for sure, he was going to give Rufus an education. No kidding.

For young Tim, the pool inside the secret cave became the place he enjoyed spending most of his time.

Allen Woods, the headmaster of Bradley Community Middle School was late for a staff meeting. He sat uncomfortably inside the bathroom on the toilet seat. The parents of the school had built the bathroom for their head a year ago to give their headmaster a bit of privacy in this most private moment in every person’s day. The noble gesture meant that Mr. Woods, the headmaster, could afford to go through this necessary daily task without fearing the prying eyes of the other staff members, parents or students.

Here in the comfort of his office bathroom, he could be free to get on with the business of letting nature do the natural thing. The process usually took Allen Woods a few minutes. Today, it took much longer to get the bowel movement and be done with it. He sat there helplessly fiddling with his smartphone not sure whether he should switch it off or let it ring.

There were two women who were bothering him that day. One was his wife of twelve years, Gwyn. The other woman, Mrs. Rita Gable, his secretary, was retiring soon. She had come with the job, having survived two headmasters before him. The older woman trusted him like her son. She would practically design his day for him, telling him which appointments to keep and which meetings he could deputize.

According to Mrs. Gable, today’s staff meeting was crucial so he had to attend. Unfortunately, he was stuck in his bathroom unable to empty his bowels on time. Every time he rose to flush and leave his stomach released another avalanche. And the damn cell phone would ring. This could be his old secretary checking on him. Sure enough, it was her. The other woman. He cut her call and cursed loudly.

Lying in the thick woods a mile south of Bradley Community Middle School, Rufus was having fun, using his rare powers to control Principal Woods’ bowel movement. Soon, he grew tired of this and left the poor man to rush out and attend to his meeting. Mr. Woods apologized to the other members who had to endure almost an hour of waiting for the school head. Mrs. Gable was not amused.

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