Stegosaurus Heart.

by Serge Bielanko

Sometimes, I'll be driving the Honda down the highway and both the kids are crying back in their carseats about their own original seperate shit and something snaps behind my face. They have their own gripes/their own personal breakdown agendas, these kids do and there is no built-in warning system, no little light on the dash that glows red when they are about to unleash the wild winds of hell. I wish they did/ but they don't.

What happens is this, really: I'll be driving out there, looking at barns and mountain ridges and maybe some cloud animals; daydreaming about stuff; maybe glaring at the cars zipping by to see if there's anyone interesting over there: any college chicks who wanna have four second eyeball-sex or maybe a Where's-The-Beef old lady barely peeping out over her steering-wheel: someone I can snarl at and drill holes in her left temple with my glare as she chug-a-lugs down the road at the speed of kicked Jell-O.

I'm there in my own little world, just driving along/not bothering anybody, and then out of nowhere Violet is on fire, crying and blowing bubbles of aggravated snot, kicking her feet, chucking chipped Goldfish crackers and raising a ruckus and then that scares the sleeping Henry, of course, and sure enough he erupts with his own torturous aria and then, Shazam:  Monica will unsnap her belt and flip herself around so she can get a knee up on the vinyl arm rest and fling herself into the back, to try and referee the chaos, and in the midst of all of the noise, all of the screeches and gurgling sobs, I imagine a way out.

And within seconds, as my wife is back there in the middle of the ring trying to sedate the beasts with a soft song about a Peep Squirrel or some shit,  I am taking my fingertips and slipping them up under my upper lip. I push my fingers and then my whole palm and my wrist up in there, my knuckles slipping in  against my soft wet gums, my aluminum wedding band tapping off of the base of my nosebone, and with one swift yank, I go ahead and just pull my whole face off of my head while I casually lower the power window with my elbow point.

I throw my face out of the car as if it were a McDonald's bag.  A couple fallen fries hid under the dirty napkins, under the cheeseburger wrappers; the thing just catches seventy-mile-an-hour air and bursts away.

It's all I can do sometimes. Either that or just jump out of the car and do a shoulder roll off into the grey woods and pick myself up and scrape the gravel and glass out of my wide gashes and just start running, down through the woods, hopping creeks like a deer-man, never stopping, through the next seven dawns.

But still.

I mean: I'm driving and I still love everybody and all even though people are driving me bananas some days with the real intensity. But I know the deal. We have to get these groceries into the fridge as soon as we get home or else the fake butter will start to turn into something else, and so I just settle for ripping my own face off and releasing it out in the road-wind. And I feel a little better.

I do.


Lately, Violet will roll up to me as soon as I plop my ass down on the couch with my first glass of evening Rioja. She doesn't show her face when I'm standing there fucking with the remote, trying to decide either King of Queens or the last half of a Bizzare Foods in Malaysia.

She waits.

She waits until my ass in maybe three inches from the sweet soft leather, like some sort of NASA-controlled perfect little Moon Lander.

My ass lowers six inches from the couch.

(Crackling sound of Mission Control: "Violet prepare for momentum").

 Five inches

("Ooookay, Violet, lock in co-ordinates and prepare for momentum").


(" Ooooookay Violet, imminent momentum, co-ordinates locked. Annnnd  looks good, looks good. Violet, prepare for momentum and throttle up.")


(And we have a lift off. Full momentum. We are up.)

I hit the sofa/tap the remote/sip the first sip of electric wine and I hear the tap-tap-tapping of sock feet on the floorboards. Perfectly timed with razorish precision.

"Daddy Daddy Daddy, ook whot i found", she slams around the corner and across the floor and into my knees, a smile on her face, her curls flapping away from her nose on the air from her tiny voice.

It's a stegosarus.

Maybe six inches. Green. Some purple, I think.

This dinosaur gets around, people. He is omnipresent, everywhere. You don't just "find" him out of the blue. You basically take two steps anywhere in the damn house and he finds you. I see him in the morning on the kitchen counter when I'm scooping coffee into the maker. I see him on the edge of the tub looking at me when I fumble out a piss in the nighlight light. He's been in the fridge; I've seen him in there. On the floor of the car, under pillows on different beds. I've found him pressed up under Henry's stubby legs while the kid was strapped in his pink chair watching Third and Bird. I know he's probably seen me and Monica get busy. I can see it in his creepy lizardyeyes. He gets around.

But this is how this dance gets danced and I'm man enough to see that.

"Daddy Daddy Daddy! Ook whot I found!"

Her eyes are glimmering as she shoves the plastic fella at me.

I put the wine on the side table under the old Ikea lamp.

I pick it back up and take a sip. Then, I put it down again.

"Whoooooa! Looky there!, " I say. "You found the long lost dinosaur, huh??!!"

She's beaming, rotating the thing in her tiny fist a little, so that he seems to be dancing at the sight of me.

"Yeah! I foun him I foun him! Stegsawris!"

The way she says it/ the way she says Stegosarus/ I watch her lips in the seconds leading up to it, knowing she will say the word. Stegsawris. My baby girl. Oh man.

We put the Creature From the Dollar Bin down on my lap and she runs back into the playroom. Her foot patter changes tone when she hits the carpet out there beyond what I can see from here. I mute the Bizzare Foods guy and the thumps go softer, but I can still pick them out.  They fade to stop. And then they return, louder, louder.

"Daddy Daddy! Ook who et is!!"

It's the brontosaurus. The same one I find sticking out of one of my Timberlands sometimes. The same one that hangs out on the radiator cover by the fridge.

We smile at each other. I take a sip of the wine, my wine.

"You found him!" I holler. "You found Brontosaurus!"

She looks up in my eyes and grins so wide and grown-up.

"Yeaaaaah!" she says. "I found im!"

We smile at each other.

The dinosaur goes in my lap.

She turns and goes in search of others.

The beat goes on.