In summer of 1967 Lenny was almost thirteen. When his mom asked him if he was sad that his childhood was ending, he said, “No, but I don’t want to be a teenager. I want to be twenty-one right now.” Illinois was the only state he had ever been to. His folks didn’t travel. His dad said, “Everything anyone could ever need you can find in Illinois. Why go to New York City when you have Chicago?” Lenny felt small as an aspirin in a bottle, but he thought maybe someday someone would open the bottle and, like Jeannie in I Dream of Jeannie, he’d fly out and go—in flaming color.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band had just come out, the first album Lenny paid for with his own money. “I want to be George,” he said to no one, dropping the needle on “Within You, Without You” for maybe the two-thousandth time.
One July day, ninety-five degrees and rising, his mom had a headache. She opened the aspirin container—Lenny flew out of the window. “My, my,” she said, not stopping him. Lenny liked flying. He had a hunch that he would as he liked to ride his bike fast. In only a couple of hours he looked down at Indiana, aiming for Ohio.
Just west of Indianapolis, he met Rita, a flying girl hippy heading for San Francisco. Her family didn’t understand her, grounded her for a week for wearing pedal pushers. They kissed in mid-air, Lenny’s first one. It tasted like the bubblegum that came with baseball cards.
Arms tired, Lenny landed outside of Zanesville. The sky looked like gray pants hanging on a line. He called his parents and said he wouldn’t be home for the rest of the summer. His mom shrugged. His dad, busy watching the Cubs, said, “Yeah, yeah, ok.” Lenny only had three dollars on him. He spent it on juke box songs like “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and “Don’t Sleep in the Subway.” Then he took off again, up, up, and away, the sky really was the limit—and it had no limit.
Kenneth Pobo has a new book forthcoming from Clare Songbirds Publishing House called The Antlantis Hit Parade. His work has appeared in: Hawaii Review, Amsterdam Review, The Queer South Anthology, Nimrod, and elsewhere.