It all started on the day the boy first realized he was bored. Not bored because there was nothing planned for him to do, but really bored. His life had come to an impasse. It was a notable day because it was the day the family moved into the house across the street. They were this family who seemed to know how to be a family. The boy would come ambling out the front door with his dog, a German shepherd and they would run around the yard and they’d tear back into the house and the parents would talk to the boy and gesture with their hands and he could see the dog, in the background, bounding the carpeted staircase. Our boy could see this through their big picture window.
Our boy’s house was cold and there was no carpeting. The living room had a rug, yes, but no carpeted stairs, only slick hard wood. His parents were always working, either away at the office, or at home on their computers or talking on their cell phones. Oh sure, they would look down at him and smile and rub the top of his head and they fed him and put him to bed and all that. They just really didn’t seem to have much extra time for him.
He got the idea from the man who lived next door. The man’s name was Jeff and Jeff liked to work on lawnmowers, or so it seemed, by the mere fact that there were so many lawnmowers in his yard and whenever the boy went to talk to this man he was holding a part of a lawnmower with a puzzled or possibly frustrated look on his face. When Jeff saw the boy walking over he would try to smile. The boy said that he was bored. Not bored because there is nothing planned for him to do but really bored to death, like death will come soon kind of bored.
“What about that new boy across the street?” Jeff asked
“Naw! He’s too busy with that damned dog. They just go around the yard and back into the house. That boy won’t even look at me.”
“Well,” said Jeff, “That one’s a tough one. When I was a kid and I got bored I thought about diggin a hole to China.”
That was all Jeff had to say. Our boy went to the shed and grabbed a shovel and opened the bulkhead and went into the basement of his house. There was a spot behind a partial brick wall where it was just dirt floor. He started digging, not really thinking about China, per say, but just digging for anywhere he might end up. He threw the dirt back into the basement knowing that no one ever went into the basement as his parents were too busy to care about what lie beneath the first floor except when they needed to stow something away like tax papers. The basement was dingy and unused. Soon the basement filled with dirt and the tunnel grew longer and darker. Hours went by, maybe even a day passed. Our boy looked back but could not see where he’d started. At this point he figured that the only way out was to keep digging even though he was more than a little hungry and tired and perhaps a little lonely and scared, still, the only way out for him was forward into the darkness. When he was at the point of losing all his strength and the air was getting scarce, at the point when he thought death was certain and close at hand, he hit something like stone and it gave way and a blast of air hit him. He kept chipping away at the stonewall and soon there after he could crawled into a dank dark space. He thought, for a minute that he was in his own basement again, maybe somehow he circled around. Then he heard voices coming from above him. They were not familiar voices. No, these people were yelling, almost screaming at each other. Our boy felt around for a switch or a pull chord for a light. He saw the light coming through the bottom of a door above him. He discovered there were stairs, they were cold and made of stone. He began to climb them slowly, quietly as the noises grew louder. He turned the knob on the door slowly, gently until the door opened.
Our boy’s eyes were not able make out anything right away. It felt like he was coming to, waking from a dream of a dark night into the brightest of days. He walked out into a very bright room with a marble floor and granite pillars. Shafts of sunlight came through high arched windows. Tall vases with large palmed green plants were set symmetrical rows. A tall, skinny man brandishing a whip was smoking a cigarette in the middle of this large room. In one corner, a tall metal cage contained a striped tiger. There was a young woman and she was naked, running in circles. In the far corner of this vast room, sat an older man. The top of his head was bald. He gestured to our boy to come toward him. Our boy thought, “wow!” This is far out!” He walked toward the man and away from the naked yelling woman.
When our boy got within spitting distance of this older man, he noticed that the man looked different from any man he’d ever seen. The man was smiling at him and the boy thought, “Oh, I know who this is.”
“Are you god?” Our boy asked.
The man threw back his head and laughed. He had a triple chin.
Our boy was surprised when the old man spoke English. He looked like he came from somewhere else.
“No, I am not god.” He said, still smiling. “I am the Chairman. My name is Mao.”