FORTY-NINE - Jeremiah, Jiffy Glue, & the Importance of Natural Light

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I'm worried about Peterson. He's been in rough shape for a while now. I know, I know...he's a forty-year-old piece of taxidermy. He hasn't got a beating heart or blood flowing through his veins, but he's got soul, and that is more important than anything.

His fur has come out in clumps, and he now has two very big bald patches: one on his back, and the other between his ears. But it's his eyes that worry me the most. They've lost all of their former shine. For over a week now, he's just looked blind and scary.

Ivy and I are going to go to the thrift store after school to see if we can find some suitable peeper replacements. I sincerely hope we can. Eyes are, after all, the windows to the soul. Enough said.

***

Well, Peterson has new eyes. They are shiny. Intense. Brand spanking new. And scary as hell.

It's strange. They didn't look red when we found them in the bottom of a vintage coke bottle at the thrift store. They looked more russet-coloured. Sort of autumnal and fitting. But that was then, and this is now. I'll explain in a minute.

Ivy and I parted ways in the village, and I snagged a ride home with Misty in the Morris (always a great experience). Dad was watching some an old movie called Jeremiah Johnson, about a mountain man who lives off the land and doesn't talk much and gets into a kerfuffle with the local First Nations people over something dumb. He's watched it, like, eight times. Robert Redford is in it, but it was when he was much younger—before his face looked boiled.

I told Dad I had a project to work on in my room but he just grunted. I don't think he was listening, because it was the part in the movie where Jeremiah meets some old dude named Bear Claw, who teaches him how to skin a grizzly bear. Yeah, like my dad would ever do that. He can't even squash spiders. He carries them outside in drinking glasses and always says something like, "Go forth and multiply, little arachnid!" when he releases them on the ground. Some Great White Hunter.

So I went to my room and placed Peterson on my bed and set to work on removing his sub-par eyes with a flat screwdriver. They were really in there, but eventually, I got them out. It was pretty eerie; where there had once been two peepers, now were just two gaping black holes of nothingness. I didn't like it one bit and kept telling Peterson over and over that the situation was just temporary.

I used some super Jiffy Glue to stick in the new eyes (which were really some large glass craft beads—one step up from marbles), and when I was sure the glue had set, I took Peterson to the light of the window for inspection.

His eyes weren't russet-coloured at all. They were red. Arterial red. Devil-spawn red. And they had no focus, because there were no pupils to speak of.

I dug in my backpack and found a big black Sharpie marker and drew in two pupils. Then, after I'd stood back to admire my handiwork, I went back and made the pupils super big, so Peterson's eyes were now more black, than red.

But I made it worse, because now he looks like some kind of caffeine-addicted serial killer, or like he has a thyroid problem. Or both.

I tried to remove the eyes with the screwdriver, but that Jiffy Glue doesn't mess around. I fear those red eyes are in there for life.

How could I have screwed up so badly? Why didn't I check those eyeballs in the natural light before I bought them? Surely Peterson deserves more respect than what I have shown him. And if he is my spirit animal, have I supremely pissed him off? Will there be repercussions?

After twenty minutes of stressing, I went out to the main room to see if Dad had any tips with regard to dissolving Jiffy glue, but he was totally uncommunicative, because it was the final scene of the movie where Jeremiah and the Crow warrior bury the hatchet (pun intended) and Jeremiah rides off in the snow, all wild haired and bearded and singing a song called, The Way That You Wander, about the importance of not tarrying and how nice it is when the fair winds blow.

So, I went back to my room and put the aviator shades on Peterson again. I guess he'll have to stay like that until I figure out another plan.

I hope he realizes that, while clearly an imbecile, I have his best intentions at heart.

I went to sleep tonight wondering what Jeremiah Johnson would have done in my shoes, but quickly realized that he probably would have just skinned Peterson on first sight, and worn him as a hat. 

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