Seeking Mama Lamil: Lost in The Green Mire
by Aaliyah Munro
Mama Lamil pads through her weather-beaten, shack of a home on Elm, careful not to disrupt the disheveled box of dominoes on the floor by the television set. Hearing the obtrusive knocks on the front door, she shuffles her pink, slipper-adorned feet slowly toward it, adjusting her tinfoil hat so that the antenna is pointed straight up, positioned to ward off alien frequencies. She grabs her AK-47 hastily, peering through the peephole as she sees the detective’s face through the rounded glass. She sighs heavily, opening the door in one swift motion.
“What do you want, Detective Paine? Come to beg me to leave the house again? Have some news about my son or are you just here to bother me?” Mama Lamil said through the tattered screen door.
“Mama Lamil, it’s good news this time, I promise. Can I come in?” Detective Paine responded, peering into the house fashioned to precisely 10 years prior, with evidence of a small child abound.
Mama Lamil sighs and waves for the detective to enter. “Come on- there’s no one else with you, right? Did anyone follow you here?”
“Not today, Mama Lamil. Nice hat. How have you been?” Detective Paine walks swiftly into the house, sitting down on the familiar beige couch with plastic lining, holding his nose discreetly as dust flies about.
Mama Lamil slowly closes the door, peering out into the yard to affirm that there were no other beings about. She replaces the AK-47 by the door, closing it and locking 5 sets of locks before heading to her pink recliner. She plops down in a huff, pulling the footrest arm to relax her swollen feet.
“Oh, well you know I won’t rest until my Tony is in my arms. You know those damned aliens took my baby. He’s probably being used for experiments, but he’ll get them. He’ll outsmart them all, I just know it in my heart, Detective Paine,” Mama Lamil said defiantly.
Detective Paine looks about the house, rubbing his balding head and smiling faintly at Mama Lamil’s dedication to the memory of her son. In prior conversations and on news interviews she revealed that she’d leave the home in the the same state that Tony left it the morning of his last day of school in 2004. Ten years later, although times have evolved the house serves as a museum, thick with the memories of a precocious ten-year-old boy. He leans back into the old comfortable couch and studies the weariness in Mama Lamil’s eyes before speaking.
“Well Mama Lamil, that’s what I’ve come to talk about. You see, Tony and Skip’s story went cold years back, you know that. I believe in you, I always have, but I didn’t really think the best of this situation until the other night,” Detective Paine starts, sighing as he recalls countless days spent consoling Mama Lamil, the town’s former mayor, during her son’s disappearance.
“You remember that big thunderstorm? The one that blew the power in a few areas of Oak Falls? Well, right after that, this… well we’re just calling it a ‘spill’ for now...this spill just happened in the middle of the Green Mire. It’s like a black and purple ooze, and you know at first we thought it might have been an oil company dumping in the swamp, but it appears that this, stuff, just came out of the ground. And the ground, Mama Lamil, it’s dented. It’s a big crater in a corner of that god forsaken swamp, and some of the locals said they saw lights flashing and heard this, music,” said Detective Paine, sitting up in the chair now as he speaks.
Mama Lamil pulls the footrest arm quickly, leaning forward as if to better consume the information. She sits her foil hat on the coffee table, careful not to knock over Tony’s grape pop and the National Geographic magazine placed haphazardly at the end of the table.
She whispers, “So you mean to tell me, you’ve found signs of those bastards and you’re just telling me weeks later? C’mon Detective Paine, I thought we were closer than that! I hired you all those years ago when you were just a young man eager to prove himself to the force! Where’s your loyalty?”
Detective Paine smiles faintly. “Mama Lamil, you know my loyalties will always lie with you, even if the rest of the town thinks you’ve went bat caca crazy. Now listen, I didn’t immediately tell you because the national guys got some of their hotshot scientists and detectives on the job first, but when they couldn’t figure out what the hell happened, they asked us to start asking the locals. Since you’re closest to the story of The Green Mire, we thought we’d come to you first.”
Mama Lamil holds her heart, her heavyset body suffering a bevy of ailments since the disappearance of her son as anxiety, depression, and loneliness filled her spirit through the years. Once a successful lawyer turned mayor, she held a lot of pride in her personal appearance, upbringing, and child rearing techniques. The envy of all the moms in the PTA, since Tony’s disappearance her health, physical appearance, and sense of being fell in a sharp decline. Only the hope of one day finding her son kept her functioning, and as she took in this new information, she felt her heart skip two beats.
“Well Paine, you know I have to get down there. It’s been a few years since I’ve been to that blasted swamp, but I feel like they’re trying to send me a message. My Tony is with them, and maybe they tried to leave him there for me. There’s something, some clue, something that you all are missing. I’m Tony’s mother- I have mother’s intuition and well, you know I’ve been wrong a few times in the past, but I just know that this time, I’m going to get my baby from that swamp, “ Mama Lamil said hopefully.
Detective Paine rises to his feet suddenly, feeling tears begin to well into his eyes. He’s always had a soft spot for Mama Lamil, who after losing her husband in a tragic car accident seemed not to be able to bear the loss of another. While he didn’t feel that Mama Lamil would have any information to relay to his colleagues, he made a point to stop by her place anyway, to share any bit of hope he could. Feeling a bit of vindication and an ounce of sadness amid a mother’s hope to reclaim the life of her son, he rubs his eyes quickly, starting toward the door.
“Now Mama Lamil, don’t go doing anything crazy. We’ll keep you updated with what’s going on out there- I just wanted you to know that there’s more to the story than just a possible drowning. This ooze, there’s something to it, but we can’t put a finger on it. You just stay here, ok? Doc Zavier will be by in a little bit to check you out. The last time I came I noticed your feet were the size of two- you have to take those medications he gave you to bring down the swelling. I’ll be back when there’s more, I promise,” said Detective Paine as he skillfully unlocks each lock going down the length of the door, walking outside into the hazy, humid weather.
Mama Lamil stands slowly, pulling herself up from the couch as her long hawaiian muumuu skirts the ground. She holds her hip and walks toward the door, waving slightly at Detective Paine. Her last friend in town, Detective Paine’s presence has always been a quiet sense of relief during times when grief takes over. She smiles faintly, watching him start toward the newer model Crown Victoria, wondering when the force replaced their cars.
She responds, “Alright now, Detective Paine. What are my old bones going to do? I’ll wait here for more information. Thanks for stopping by- tell your wife Gerry I said hello. Oh, and the next time you come over, I’ll have one of my cherry pies for Jake- I know that’s his favorite!”
Detective Paine looks on, waving as he gets into his car and pulls away. He thinks to himself, wow, she’s really stuck in the past. Jake is almost done college, with a girlfriend and all. He wonders how Mama Lamil would have fared had Tony been found all those years ago.
Mama Lamil watches as the car pulls off, then slowly closes the door, routinely replacing all of the locks on the door. She slowly shuffles over to her recliner, pulling the footrest arm to elevate her swollen feet. She reaches behind her on the dusty, cluttered mantle for the television remote. Turning it on, she flutters her eyes as Tony’s favorite cartoon station plays. She leans back, relaxing on the recliner as the familiar sounds of Tony playing in front of the TV surrounds her. She drifts off into a dream, her thoughts focused on her missing son.
Hours later, as darkness creeps into the undisturbed suburban house, Mama Lamil’s snores echo through the empty space. She hears in her dream a faint yelling.
“Mom! Mom I’m here! Mom, find me mommy I’m in here,” exclaimed the voice from an unknown origin.
She startles, the voice arousing her from sleep suddenly. Her eyes open wide, and she leans forward in the chair immediately, popping the footrest arm down quickly as she springs to her feet. Moving with a sense of urgency that seems years past, she hurries up the steps, reaching her bedroom adorned with pictures of her beloved John. She hastily pulls the faux crystal handle of the mahogany dresser, retrieving the first pair of jeans she could find. She slips them on slowly and then tosses her muumuu up over her head and on the floor. Closing one drawer and opening another, she pulls out the Disneyland sweater from Tony’s first trip to Disneyland, smiling a bit as she knows the sweater will be a welcomed sight. Looking up at herself in the dresser mirror, she grimaces as she doesn’t recognize the person she sees before her. Tired, worn, and depressed, the reflection shows a woman unfamiliar to the once vibrant spirit that inhabited this enlarged body. She shakes her head, kicking off her slippers and retrieving her sneakers from under the bed, pulling them on sans socks. Satisfied, she ties her hair into a ponytail high atop her head as she walks down the steps slowly.
Reaching the front room, Mama Lamil adjusts all of Tony’s belongings, making sure everything is placed just right for his return. She heads toward the door, grabbing the keys from the kitchen buffet as she quickly snatches her gun, slinging it on her back. She unlocks the door, pulling each lock open before replacing a few as she heads out. The cool night air embraces her, the outside a feeling unfamiliar since her son’s disappearance. She gives her old Honda a once over, kicking the tires as she walks around the car in the driveway. Settling in the car, she checks her mirrors and turns on the lights, turning the station to an old country program that was Tony’s favorite thing to listen to after soccer practice. She backs her car up, headed to The Green Mire to finally pull her son from the grips of those aliens.
Pulling into the swamp, the pitch blackness and thick air that seems to surround the area gave Mama Lamil a chill up her spine. She fumbles in the light of her car for her flashlight, checking to see if its operational before exiting her car. She straps her gun to her back, and reaches into the glove department to retrieve a swiss army knife. Tucking it into her side pocket, she nods, affirming that tonight she’ll find her son. She takes a deep breath and turns the car off and flashlight on, stepping out of her vehicle and locking it quickly, grounding herself as she attempts to recall the small shack where Tony and Skip camped on that fateful evening.
Spotting it in the distance, Mama Lamil shines her flashlight all about the area, feeling a persistent thickness in the air. She leans down slowly to re-tie her shoes, learning from enough horror movies that having untied shoes is one of the dumbest ways to get caught. She sighs, finding it a bit harder to take in the thick yet curiously fragrant air. Standing slowly, she starts to head toward the campsite, her steps cautious and slow as she tries to remember the deep muddy potholes. She squeals, misstepping and getting a sneaker full of mud as she steps too deeply. “Damn, “ she mutters, kicking her foot forward to attempt to remove the mud. She continues on, her flashlight adequately illuminating the path as she reaches the rickety wooden path to the shack.
Reaching the kid-sized shack, likely used by a gardener, she shines her large yellow flashlight over its contents. Some playing cards, chalk. A tattered hat placed on the side of a chair, a weather-beaten nudie magazine tucked under a makeshift chair. She smiles to herself as she guesses its Tony’s, a young connoisseur of Playboy magazines since stumbling upon his late father’s stash in the basement. She idly rubs her hand along the items, feeling her son’s essence in the old shack. She startles suddenly, waving her hand quickly as she feels spiderwebs between her fingers. She rubs her hand against her jeans, the light clumsily moving about until it settles on a black book. Tilting her head, Mama Lamil picks up the book, wiping the cobwebs off on her jeans before inspecting it, prying it open with one hand as she holds the big flashlight with the other. Curiously, the book seems in relatively good condition to have survived the elements, exposed in an old shack in the middle of the swamp. She starts with the first page, immediately recalling Tony’s handwriting. It was his journal!
Mama Lamil’s heart swelled with joy, first glancing over her son’s handwriting before consuming its contents. She read as Tony detailed the story of his adventure here at the swamp. Mama Lamil felt her surroundings leave her as she takes in Tony’s words, discovering the strange relic, the light, and the music. Her eyes moistened as she reached the end of the journal, feeling her son’s fear between words. Suddenly, a loud, melodic sound echoes through the swamp, seemingly coming from the distance. Mama Lamil nearly jumps out of her skin, turning her head wildly, the flashlight following, to place the direction of the sound. Again it plays, startling Mama Lamil but affirming the direction. She widens her eyes, quickly grabbing Tony’s journal and holding it close to her heart, her hands trembling as she follows the sound, padding through the familiar yet dangerous swamp in search of her long lost son.
The flat screen television in the bustling coffeehouse is almost incoherent as the sounds of coffee brewing and chatter fills the small space. Detective Paine takes a sip of his caramel mocha macchiato, idly glancing at the local newspaper before hearing a bit of the newscast.
“...Affectionately referred to by the locals as Mama Lamil, was said to be missing since last evening. Her Honda Accord was found parked at The Green Mire, the mysterious swamp where her son was said to have drowned ten years ago to this very day. Anyone with any information on the whereabouts of Mama Lamil or her son Tony Lamil is asked to contact the authorities immediately. There is a reward…”
Hastily finishing his coffee, Detective Paine grabs his coat, pulling enough to cover two meals from his wallet and dropping it on his table before rushing out of the coffeehouse, in pursuit of his friend.