The Winter of My Discontent
Last Friday evening, as I was pulling into my driveway after picking up Scott for the weekend, I saw Tommy and Jessica V. and their son, Austin standing outside across the street (last name omitted to protect the not-so-innocent). Tommy’s dad is Eulis, my neighbor across the street, whose brother-in-law, Gary, had offered way-back-when to “maybe” pay me what I owe on my house “plus a few extra dollars.” Eulis wants Gary to buy the house so he, Eulis, can have the barn to use as a workshop for all his lawnmower and automobile tinkering projects. Gary is my last resort. I will need more than a “few” dollars to start my New Life in New Mexico. But, I digress.
Eulis is a really nice guy, like a grandpa to me. He fixes my lawnmowers and my cars from time-to-time, he brings me extra produce from his garden, and he cuts down my wayward trees. Austin, his grandson, is an okay “kid,” especially considering his upbringing. At least, he used to be an okay kid. I’m pretty sure he stole a valuable guitar while house sitting for me while I was in Detroit being set up for my fall.
Tommy and Jessica…well, there’s a story. Both of them are drug addicts. Neither of them have had jobs since I’ve known them. They’ve asked to borrow money, they’ve asked to sell me food stamps, they’ve asked if I had valuables they could pawn and of course they’d pay me back. Tommy even offered once to sleep me with me after I’d broken up with Damien. He thought I might be needing a little something-something. And he didn’t phrase it nearly that politely. Tommy also told me once – emphatically – that he/they are not related to the “V”-family who gained notoriety a couple of years ago when several members of the family were found guilty of murdering another member or two of the family and then dumping the bodies in a nearby quarry.
For the past year or more, Tommy and Jessica have both been in jail – or more likely prison – Jessica for umpteen drug charges, Tommy for the attempted murder of Jessica. And now, apparently, they’re out. I’m pretty certain the only reason I haven’t had a visit from them yet is because of the weather. No doubt, it’s just a matter of time before one or both of them – and Austin, too, who has been absent all winter – comes a-knockin’ on my door.
Fast forward to Sunday afternoon. Scott and I were sitting in the living room playing Monopoly, our most recently contrived shared activity in addition to Checkers. I love to play board games. To me, it is the epitome of normalcy. Damien hated board games – I think we played once in fourteen years – and anyway, we didn’t qualify as normal by any definition of the word. Scott and I, too, are far from normal (individually as well as relationally), but we are at least making an attempt at faking it, at least until winter makes its exit. Winter reduces my effective living space to two rooms – living room and bedroom (even the kitchen is essentially uninhabitable except for chillingly brief periods of time) – limiting the options for productive/enjoyable use of free time.
We had been at the game for an hour or two, and for a change I was winning, at least for the time being. Then a big, white truck pulled up out front and someone came a knockin’. Wanna guess who?
It was Melissa. Of Frank-and-Melissa.
Now, I don’t know if I ever mentioned this, but Frank called me while I was in Detroit. He left me a voice mail in the middle of the night informing me that he had just returned to Mountain Grove from Oklahoma (where Melissa is from). He emphasized the fact that he was alone, and was wondering if he could crash in my barn for awhile. I immediately contacted Austin, my house sitter, and told him that if he saw Frank looming about, he was to tell him to stay away until I returned. That was the last I heard of it. However, once I got home from Detroit, I was anxious – to put it mildly – to get on with things and get the hell out of Dodge. Maybe Frank could expedite the house repair matters for me, so I called and texted him to let him know that I was willing to discuss options, but I never heard from him again.
When Melissa showed up at my door, I did the neighborly thing and invited her in. I offered her a seat, and proceeded to introduce her to Scott. To be honest, I didn’t immediately remember which ne’er-do-well she was, there really are so many, so I inadvertently introduced her as Terra Cotta. Remember Terra Cotta? She’s the person who first introduced me to Frank; she recently made the local news – I saw her mugshot on TV – and she also happens to be Jessica’s sister. Small world, eh? Anyway, Melissa corrected me and laughed it off. Then she told me that she and Frank were no longer together (“He was just too much,” what a surprise!) and that her new handyman boyfriend was out in the truck. They had “just this minute” arrived in town from Oklahoma and were wondering if they could help with my household repairs in exhange for a place to crash.
Really? Because that worked out so well for me the last time? Seriously?
I wish I had had the “balls” to say it just like that. Why the hell didn’t I kick her out right then and there? Where is my inner bitch when I need her, damn it?
I DID say “NO!” but spring is on the horizon and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the other creepies start crawling out of the woodwork around here. However, spring is also prime real estate selling season, so maybe, just maybe…
By the way, I won the Monopoly game.