Mutant Mickey Ex-Lake
Nemo Spechall took the long way around the ex-lake.
The development was built like the mutant skull of Mickey Mouse. The two crooked loops of neighborhoods on the upper outer edge made the ears. Nemo’s neighborhood was more or less where the teeth would be (his house was an incisor, or maybe a molar).
The middle bit, with the ex-lake and the mini park and all, was the skull proper.
The middle bit was what Nemo walked around while someone slowly mixed powdered orange juice into the sky. Up the road from Spechall Molar Manor, past the corner made of boulders and a pipe just big enough to crawl through if you wanted to run into snakes and spiders while blind and vaguely damp.
Across the dam (more on that later), turn again and down the rough pebble path. It was shaded with trees roughly the size of Godzilla’s little fingers. There were benches set in the shade under the trees, but they were painted with bird poo and…well, more bird poo.
One of Nemo’s weird sleepless synapses fired and put the thought in his head that maybe they were made of bird poo. He’d never seen what was under it, after all. Maybe they were like, a badly planned gift from the birds, and the development board was too polite to return them.
Nemo kept walking.
We walked past the gang of geese that hissed at him as he passed. They hissed at everyone. Sometimes they shook a wing at people at the same time. It was like they forgot that they didn’t have switchblades.
Because, y’know. They were geese.
Nemo wasn’t a fan of them, but he ignored the hissing.
He walked over the little bridge thing. It’d covered a stream once, but the stream had turned into a bonsai Grand Canyon when the lake dried up. The bridge was made of chipped wood painted white and grey, but the birds had tried decorating it a bit in the spirit of being neighborly and having to use the bathroom. It was also covered in half-broken spider webs.
The phrase ‘Insect Skid Row’ popped into Nemo’s head, signed its name in a ledger marked ‘Future Band Names’ and went on its way as Nemo crossed the bridge.
End of the line. Mini-park met ex-lake at a border town of leftover neighborhood planning. The big feature was the pavilion (which was full of giant penises drawn in green marker. Also, spiders). Near that was the willow tree and the inexplicably old-school lamppost, imported from some Deep South version of Narnia.
And then there was the sign.
“Keep Out of Lake,” Nemo said aloud in his chipped and dry sixteen-year-old’s voice. He didn’t need to read it. I mean, he lived there, he knew what it said by now.
And anyway, there wasn’t a lake. A pipe had gone rotten deep inside the dam, and the neighborhood watch or someone had drained it. The alternative was flooding Mutant Mickey’s ears.
And, y’know, the neighborhoods that made them.
The ex-lake had sat there like a damp crater for a while. Not long though. Soon, it was more than half filled again. Slowly, at first, and then…bam. Or maybe woosh. Yeah, woosh, woosh was fast and the new filling had a crazy momentum.
The old water had been kind of green. Goose poo green, you guess why. The ex-lake was also green; lush, kid-with-crayon green. Also, funnily enough, caused by goose poo.
The lake-turned-crater had become mostly one giant bush, as tall as Nemo on the outer edges. Nemo wondered how they were going to refill it if they ever fixed the dam’s dead pipe.
He leaned forward against the sign. Leaned back when his hand dangled into some spider webs. He looked at the lake and absently shook them off his fingers.
Keep Out of Lake. He felt like adding “It Has Enough Problems” in marker.
Keep Out of Lake. He felt like crossing out ‘Lake’ and writing ‘Jungle’.
Keep Out of Lake.