A day in the life of Arnold Jasper | By: Barbo | | Category: Short Story - Other Bookmark and Share

A day in the life of Arnold Jasper

It was as if a bright light had come on inside his head, suddenly bringing the world into focus.
Once again he had dreamed of an open field, golden brown and quiet. A peaceful place to wander
in, the smell of fresh flowers and juniper bushes wafting up into his nostrils. Now he found himself
lying on his large, overstuffed couch at home.
He looked up to see the figure of Captain Jasper walking away from him, mumbling something
he didn’t understand and wasn’t sure he wanted to. Somewhere in the distance he could hear a
child crying. "The little one next door..." he thought. It must have been she who woke him from
his restful slumber. She or the good Captain, although by any means, he was awake now.
Strange thoughts began forming in his head but he chose to ignore them, opting instead to
return to sleep. Moments later the phone rang, forcing his eyes to widen once more. He could hear
the Captain’s voice rising from the other room, at some unseen individual. He sat upright, taking
in the essence of the morning with a subtle sniffle and was making up his mind whether or not to
begin the day’s explorations, when the Captain wandered back into the room.
He was a large man of advanced years, who walked with a cane and often tried to disguise a
chronic smoker’s cough by abruptly clearing his throat. He paid Arnold little mind as he walked
by, investigating the bookcase for something which he seemed to have an urgent need to find.
"Damned insurance agent!" Said the Captain, as if directing the statement to the folder he now
held in his hand. He turned sharply, his eyes locking upon Arnold’s with an almost cruel intent.
"How the hell am I supposed to know my wife’s social security number?"
Arnold opened his mouth as if to answer, yet was, at that moment overwhelmed by a yawn
"I’d like to know when those bastards are gonna get this business straitened out and leave me the
hell alone." continued the Captain. "Ellie!" He bellowed up at the ceiling. "Where’s that old
woman gotten to now?"
Arnold looked about the room, trying to collect his thoughts. Again he opened his mouth, and
again his body tensed in preparation of another yawn.
"And you!" stated Captain Jasper, waggling his index finger in Arnold’s direction. "Just what in
the blazes do you know anyway...what good are ya?"
Arnold had no answer to that question, sitting there with his mouth agape, and watched silently
as the Captain exited the room, still mumbling to himself.
He could hear the voice clearly as it echoed throughout the small, two level house. He didn’t
like to see the Captain so agitated. It always made him nervous and he wondered if perhaps now
wouldn’t be a good time to move to the relative sanctity of the front porch for a while. He opted
instead to make his way cautiously to the kitchen, and look for the newspaper, which was usually
kicking around by the table.
The sun had finally broken through the storm clouds outside, and brilliant light now streamed
through the kitchen window, distracting him. He noticed that the floor seemed uncommonly dirty
and stood by the breakfast table watching as small dust bunnies floated along, carried by a draft
caused by the half opened cellar door.
For a moment he couldn’t recall exactly why he had come into the kitchen, and decided to go
into the bathroom while he was up and around. He didn’t like the downstairs bathroom much. It
smelled like old people and was too small for him to ever feel relaxed in.
After another few minutes he returned to the kitchen and spotted the object of his immediate
desires. He walked briskly to the chair on which it lay and snatched up the daily edition of the
‘Courier Gazette’, eyeballing the door in case the Captain should return unexpectedly and find
him holding it. The Captain hated when anyone took his paper before he had a chance to examine
it fully. Arnold had no idea if he had finished with it or not, yet finding out one way or the other
wasn’t a major priority in his life.
Outside the window, he could now hear that all too recognizable, growling voice, and the far
more pleasant tones of Mrs. Jasper ringing in reply. He edged his way to the back door,
intermitting there in order to get a more clear understanding of what they might be talking about.
When he became satisfied that he wasn’t going to be able to tell what they were discussing, he
moved swiftly toward the front of the building, a feeling of impending reproach surrounding him
for having stolen the paper.
Stepping out into the glass enclosed warmth of the porch, he paused again to let the sun’s rays
blanket his face. He breathed deeply the scent of fresh cut grass and wild flowers, and his eyebrows
raised up in silent appreciation of another beautiful, summer’s day in the making. He had just
settled down into his favorite wicker armchair, and was beginning to turn his attention to the
sports section when he thought he heard a rustling sound by the outer door.
He waited, frozen in place as a mild breeze blew a plastic coffee cup down the street out front.
He was wondering if that was the noise he had heard, when his stomach growled at him, breaking
his concentration again. He cocked his head slightly and listened once more as the sound returned,
this time much louder than before. It was definitely not coming from the road.
Hesitantly he craned his neck in the direction of the door, eyes widening and beginning to dart
back and forth with nervousness. It seemed the slightest little things made him nervous these days.
Ever since that visit with the doctor, and the cold, antiseptic examination room he kept.
Arnold’s whole body shuddered as the unknown force caused the screen door to flex and rattle
abruptly. Stealthily he approached to door, peering out the fine mesh screen in time to see a
shaggy tuft of canine posterior disappearing behind one of the large, carefully pruned bushes by
the outer steps. It belonged to one of the neighbors’ dogs. A large wolfhound named Sasquatch
that had a knack for escaping it’s restraints and fouling the Jasper’s lawn, even after repeated
threats by the good Captain that he would ‘shoot the son of a bitch on site’ if he ever saw it
digging in the missus’ rose garden again.
A curious expression overtook Arnold’s face at that moment, as he stood there, unexpectedly
overwhelmed with thoughts of grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches. He was hungry and would no
longer waste his time with the stupid, lumbering beast, rooting about the lawn.
He left the newspaper behind and stepped into the living room again, just in time to see Ellie
Jasper enter the house from the rear entrance, carrying a cumbrous bundle of vegetables she had
retrieved from the garden out back. Arnold could hear the ancient Pontiac’s engine turning over
in the driveway, as Captain Jasper prepared to drive to the insurance agent’s office in order to
confront the man about his wife’s new health policy.
"There’s my special little man." chirped Mrs. Jasper as she noticed Arnold’s figure through the
archway, lurking in the shadows of the hulking, multimedia console that the captain had installed
only days before.
Arnold nearly smiled as Mrs. Jasper set about the task of placing the various produce into the
refrigerator, whistling cheerfully as she did so. He loved to hear her whistle like that and looked
on admiringly as she picked lettuce from the canvas sack she always took with her to the garden.
Arnold suddenly felt an itch on his back. It was on that particular spot that no one can ever
reach on their own bodies with any available appendage, though he struggled in vain to relieve the
sensation anyway. He backed himself up against the corner of the archway and commenced to
grinding his spine into the sharp, wooden edge with a strained sigh.
"You need to be outside on such a nice day." stated Mrs. Jasper as she peeked her head around
the corner at him.
Had he heard the words correctly? Just the idea of it made him forget his itch and caused his
body language to change noticeably.
"Come on!" she said, walking to the entryway, his quick cadenced steps following close behind.
"Let’s go out!"
He had heard it. Out! One of his very favorite words indeed.
Mrs. Jasper hooked the stainless steel leash to his collar with a familiar click and swung the
door wide, allowing him to exit the house. He bounded down the steps as if all at once reborn into
a far more exciting and wondrous world. Arnold let out a hearty yawp and trotted to the center of
the driveway, his ears perked and his nose raised to greet the sweet, humid air.
It was at that very moment that he spotted, out of the corner of his eye the slow moving figure
of Sasquatch, still milling about the hedgerow nearby. Then he heard the back door close shut
behind him.
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