Chapter 2 1986 - Your Wildest Dreams

“I’m going to write a book.”

Angela looked at I as if he were crazy. “A book,” she sighed resignedly. “What could you possibly write a book about?” She shook her head.

“I have a full life of experiences that I can draw upon,” I defended himself.

“A full life,” she countered. “You’re only thirty-two years old. How is that possibly a ‘full life’?”

All my life I’ve been so meek and mildly mannered,”, he sang. “There’s the first line already!”

“So you’re going to release the lyrics of your songs as a book?” she inquired.

“No,” he said. “I’m just going to pepper the text with a few poignant lyrics throughout.”

“So what’s this book going to be called?”

“‘Your Wildest Dreams.’ It’s a rags to riches story of my success, downfall and resurgence.”

“That’s already been done dozens of times. How will yours be any different?”

“No one knows the story better than me.” He puffed up his chest a bit. “I’m an expert on the subject matter. Besides, I need a legacy to pass down to Chrissy. Someday, she’ll have children of her own, and will want them to know all about their famous grandfather.”

Angela was getting a bit worried that I was begin to suffer once again from delusions of grandeur and a return to intense egoism.

“I hope you’re not going to go down that dark road again. It nearly destroyed you.”

“And you saved me. As I figure it, that will be Chapter 17. It has the making of high drama and pathos.”

“Ok, you just get out your typewriter and start typing away. Let’s see how far you can get.”

“You have no faith in me,” I complained. “You don’t think I can do it.”

“Faith is not the problem. Action is the problem. Take a look at all the unfinished projects you’ve got laying about. The ‘picnic area’ in the back, the ‘Roman fountain’ on the side. Our so-called ‘Library’. A bunch of books in boxes does not constitute a library.”

“Those are all physical pursuits. This is a pursuit of the mind. Pen to Paper. Typewriter key to Paper. Quill to parchment. Even talking about it is poetic!”

“So now it’s a book of poems?”

“No, but the art of writing is poetic as well as cathartic. See I even get to use words that I would never use in ordinary speech.”

“You know, you’re more like your father than you think. He’s always been one for hair-brained schemes as well, and this sounds just like another.”

“Oh come on,” I protested. “Give it a chance. I’m retired. I’m not making music. I need a way to channel my creativity.”

“Why don’t you try writing a novel instead? That’s creative. Writing about yourself is hardly creative. As you said, you’re already an expert on the subject. How will you sell yourself to an audience who’s already heard everything about you through the press, TV, radio and fan magazines? If you ask me, it’s just a waste of time. Leave it up to someone else to tell your story. Maybe after a few years have passed. By that time, people will see you as a historical figure, and maybe gain a new fan base on top of the fans of yesterday.”

“The book must be written!” I declared.

“Yes, there is truth in that. Just not now. It’s not the right time. Trust me on this.”

I hung his head, dejected. He looked up at Angela with puppy dog eyes.

“Don’t give me that look,” she said. “Just think about it. You know I’m right. Now how about channeling some of that ‘creative energy’ into the Roman fountain. I’d really like to see that working before springtime.”

I abandoned his wildest dream, the story of his life, at least for a little while. “Perhaps I’ll take in a collaborator,” he thought. “Someone who will tell my story, the way I want it told. Someday. Someday…

Carpentry and construction was not I’s passion, but he did appreciate design and invention, traits that he likely inherited from his father. His father, Henry Mall, had gained some notoriety as a successful inventor over the years, and held a number of patents, providing a nice steady income stream. I called Henry one day.

“Dad,” he began. “I need some help in completing some of these projects around here. Angela complains that I start one, then abandon it to pursue another. I can’t say that she’s wrong about that. Can you help?”

Henry replied, “I’ll get Buddy and come over to take a look. He’s been itching for a project lately as well.” Buddy Jones was Angela’s father, I’s father-in-law. “How’s tomorrow?”

“That’ll be great,” I replied. “I want to finish our picnic area, then move on to some of the other projects. Looking forward to it!”

Henry and Buddy arrived early the next morning, with a truckload of tools to tackle the biggest jobs.

“I don’t think you’ll need all of that for a job as simple as that,” I declared. “I thought more like a couple of rakes and shovels and we’d be on our way.”

“This job is bigger than rakes and shovels, son,” Henry said. “We’re going to make this a first class destination, even if the only ones heading for it are the two of you and the baby. Years from now, you’ll really thank me.”

“So,” I asked. “What’s the plan? We going for a roadside rest theme here?”

“Nothing quite that big,” Buddy added. “But it will be enough for small as well as large gatherings. They’ll be plenty of those, once this is done.”

The three of them began the work in earnest. First was grading the ground to provide a level surface for the picnic tables. An area of 20 feet x 30 feet was lined out with chalk, then they thought better of it and increased it by ten feet in each dimension.

“We need to clear out the grass in this area, put up some forms, and get ready to pour concrete.” Henry was taking charge.

“That seems a bit sterile for a backyard picnic area,” I complained. “Don’t you think less concrete and more natural materials will make a better area for relaxation?”

“Of course we’re not going to pour the whole area in concrete. Just some pads for the table and barbecue area. You’ll appreciate the hard surface where the tables are going to be, and we need support for the outdoor kitchen. Remember, this will be an area to be proud of!”

Henry’s grandiose plans, for some strange reason, always had a way of working out.

Two months later, the extended family, I, Angela, Chrissy, Henry and Juliette, Buddy and Annette, as well as Angela’s brother Spike, his wife Emily and young Adrian Jr. all gathered to christen the new structure. And what a grand structure and picnic area it was! Within the massive 30 foot by 40 foot area were six 6 foot by 8 foot table pads, complete with custom-build redwood tables and benches, a 12 foot by 18 foot outdoor kitchen pad, with two built-in barbecues, sink, prep area and storage, two three level fountains, and the entire structure was covered with a massive overhead shade, with motorized retractable awnings (with remote control, of course.) Multiple shade trees were planted around the area, and a gravel path wound around the tables, making every aspect of it as accessible as a walk through the park. Drop down temporary walls allowed for entertaining and enjoyment year round, when portable heaters could be brought in to take the chill off a wintry day, or a cool autumn evening.

“I love it!” was the common reaction of everyone, and before long, a grand feast was underway. Burgers, ribs, chicken, even a whole turkey was turning on the spit. Salads of every type: potato, macaroni, pasta, green, caesar, fruit. Plus loaves of bread, a few cases of beer, several bottles of wine, chips, dips, desserts. The celebration was both a family event as well as an exposition of gluttony. By the time everyone had eaten their fill, there was still enough leftovers to feed them all a second time.

“What will we do with all this leftover food?” Angela wondered.

“Let’s invite the neighbors!” I cried out, a bit drunkenly.

“We live on an isolated estate, at least a mile from anyone else. What neighbors are you inviting?

But I had drifted off to sleep. While everyone else continued the conversation, I drifted into a dream. He discovered himself fifty feet in the air, overlooking the new picnic area. A sense of calm overcame him as he floated above, seeing everyone still partying below. The thought of inviting the neighbors entered into his dream state, and he saw lines forming outside the gate, where everyone was waiting to be admitted, hoping for a meal. I looked and saw even more lined up behind them, and realized that these weren’t just neighbors, but all the needy who with all his excesses, could barely afford to feed their own families. I shook himself awake, and remembering the dream, saw it as a vision.

“I must do something about world hunger,” he said aloud.

The others turned to him curiously, and collectively said “Huh?”

“I had a dream, and I saw many waiting to be fed, while we were inside the gates partying. It’s a message. It’s time once again to explore humanitarian options. I thought my World Reform movement in the 70s was an end to it, but there’s more, there’s always more.”

“Even in my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined entering into an effort like this again. But this is very important. It’s something I must do.”

Within three months, the I and Angela Mall Foundation to Eradicate World Hunger was established, and was beginning to make a real difference in the world.