Deep under the earth

“President John F. Kennedy, speaking on civil defense, advises American families to build bomb shelters to protect them from atomic fallout in the event of a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union. Kennedy also assured the public that the U.S. civil defense program would soon begin providing such protection for every American.”

 We are thrilled that our backyard is concealing something unique, silent and strong. Originally the insurance company did not know how to insure it. The miniature palm tree, jasmine plants and miniature lemon tree hide it. A concrete frame and solid foundation hides deep within the living earth.  Twelve years and it lurks there as if a tomb. It has a white metal door where spiders wait at its threshold. The big metal door makes a loud metal banging and squeaking sound when opened. Enter and it will take you down stairs. The stairs are steep and go 12 feet down under the earth.  It contains a small room with a closet. Much enthusiasm goes into what will be done with it. Over time our family, friends and acquaintances all have found out about it. As we sometimes whisper in their ear,

“We have a cold war bomb shelter in our backyard that was built-in the 1960s”

What will we do with it or what have we done with it? Have we converted it into something? Maybe a Hobbit house sits on top of this bomb shelter. The backyard does have a middle earth feeling to it. This house has a big green round door with a door knob in the middle. Open it and there is a lovely room. Under the golden tapestry rug, in the right corner, is a trap door that leads down to the basement. Here is where we keep our grains, vegetables and fruit. A garden grows on top of our Hobbit house and to either side are fruit trees.

Instead, I may have a beautiful studio hidden down there where I create my art and write my stories. A wood banister runs all the way down to the bottom of the stairs. It is stained rosewood. This matches my large desk and chair. Here I frame my art and listen to music. A turntable, stereo, vinyl records and speakers enhance my creative atmosphere. In front on the white metal door hangs a small sigh. It often says do not disturb or maybe something a little more curse. It is great that this bomb shelter has electricity. I am thinking about promoting an art show here or maybe starting Bomb-shelter publishing soon.

It is also possible that we have beer bottles filled with beer down there. Many bottles of homemade beer and root beer are stored down in our bomb shelter?  A large kettle or two and the proper space for the fermentation process might make this a truth. Two large fans on the ceiling ventilate the room. We have all the tools we need for this excellent microbrewery. Sometimes our bottled root beer pops from the pressure and ants get excited and are a mess to clean up. We are working on a wine recipe for this fall.

There may be a low humming sound coming from this hidden enclosure. Seven twin mattresses are down there. They are framed-in with plywood which muffles the noise. The small music studio is great for musicians. A drum set, two guitars and key boards fit just right. The endless travel thought the back yard has done its toll on the lawn but the noise keeps the pesky squirrels away. There is talk now of turning it into a small recording studio.

Who knows? One late night at the local pub when everything got a little too funky, a longtime acquaintance listened to us talking. His ear’s perked up when he overheard that there is a bomb shelter in our back yard. He is into hydroponics. He said it is good money. He could teach us everything we needed to know to start an underground business.  He was interested in setting us up. I then imagined the neighborhood surrounded by police and then being taken away in handcuffs.  This I can say, with all honesty, did not happen.

Maybe this fallout shelter is only a place where I meditate and become inspired. I am in the process of writing a murder mystery story about the bodies found down there just recently. The detective, the femme fatale and innocent victims are included in this story. The bomb shelter is the perfect focal point of this modern-day noir thriller, The Bomb Shelter Mystery.

Our bomb shelter can be anything we want it to be. Maybe we have tried all the above and maybe not. Someone told us to put a big metal brace on the white metal door and lock it tight so no one can get in. We do not have tornadoes in California, so it will not serve as a shelter for a protection against such a storm.

I watch the cats rest above the shelter at night before prowling the yard for food or play. At times I witness a praying mantis rest on the jagged concrete that is under the lemon tree. A black widow sometimes makes a web near the opening of the white metal door. This autumn it will become covered with leaves that will be racked away.This bomb shelter never withstood an atomic fallout or War of the Worlds. I hope it never will!

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, and dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.

Edgar Allan Poe