Friday, August 15, 2014

Chapter 17

"Kay-Lee?"  Sawyer called from upstairs.

I stepped to the set of back stairs and called back up, "Yeah?"

"You got a sec?"

"Coming," I called back suddenly worried that I'd done something wrong.

I wiped my hands that were damp from the sudsy wash water and limped my way up the stairs, sore from all the up-and-down I had done that day, and then over to the big bedroom where I saw them standing.  "You wondering where everything is?" I asked.

"I saw it on the porch just didn't look close enough to see how much there was.  I'm wondering how you got it all down by yourself."

I blinked and then told him, "Uh ... I carried it?"

"Not funny Kay-Lee.  Really, how did you get all this done?  Did someone stop by?"

"I would have told you if someone besides those guys that took the medical stuff or the propane delivery man came by.  And I told you, I carried it down.  Did you think I'd just dump stuff out the window or something?"

"Noooo ... you mean you really got all this done by yourself?"

I realized something right there.  Sawyer may have been handsome but he wasn't real secure.  "I told you Sawyer.  Besides it would be pretty rude to lie about it.  You're just forgetting I've been going to school to do this kind of thing - be a cook or a maid or something like that - since middle school.  It goes a lot faster when you do it in an organized fashion.  I wanted to get more done but it took me longer to empty this closet and that little room over there than I thought it would.  And I also dragged all the boxes from ..."

"You coulda got hurt," he said switching gears to cover up what he'd let peek through.

"Coulda but didn't.  I'm not made of glass and I work smart as well as hard to save time and effort.  There is one thing I need to show you and I'm not going down in there until someone checks out the stairs."

That distracted both men.  "What?"

"I got that door under the back stairs to open ... the key was in the kitchen junk draw on a ring with a bunch of other keys that are labeled what they belong to ... and it isn't a storage area but another landing with stairs that must lead down to a basement area.  I can't find the light and I looked around the house foundation and I think I found some boarded over windows that might be to that space.  I can't say for sure but ... those stairs are wooden and the top one creaked when I put my foot on it."

"Show me."

So all three of us trooped back down stairs and sure enough it is a basement.

"Gramps can you hang around just a little bit?  I'm going to take a flashlight and see if that's where the smell is coming from."

"You test each step before you put your full weight on it, you hear me?"

"Yes sir."

In the end the stairs proved to be steady enough except for the top riser that was cracked and needed to be replaced.  Sawyer came up after looking around.  "Place is completely dried in and actually smells better than it does up here.  There looks to be several gross of empty canning jars sitting on shelving and some other odds and ends but I don't even smell any dead mice in the walls.  Whatever is causing the smell has to be up here."

I nodded and told him, "I took out some awful smelling shoes and old clothes that smelled pretty rank.  All the linens and rugs smelled pretty ripe too.  I think it is mostly just the smell of filth and old sweat.  Do you know when it is supposed to rain next?"

Gramps answered, "Weatherman says Saturday but my bones say Sunday.  Why?"

"Well if I can get all of the linens and clothes washed by then I won't have to use the dryer.  The only thing is I'm not sure how to clean those mattresses."

"Honey those mattresses are done for.  Most of 'em are probably older than you are and from the look of 'em some of might give me a run for the money.  The boxes should be ok if you take some bleach water to 'em but the springs themselves need to go."  He turned to Sawyer.  "I know you've got that windfall you found and you said you were going to inventory before you spent any of it but if I was you ... and I ain't telling you what to do Boy but just suggesting ... I'd put near the top of the list to get replacement springs.  Just the mattress though as you can probably get some plywood and shore up the boxes.  Deep as those things are you could probably even use 'em for extry storage space should you need to.  You think on it."

"We will."

Tommy drove up not too long after that to fetch his grandfather home.  He only came in long enough to hand me another basket and take the empty one back with him.  "Linda said for you to get these in the frig.  They're fresh so they should keep a good while.  She also said that she'd see you Saturday instead of Sunday 'cause Sawyer said he'd take you to the flea market."  I peeked in the basket and it was full of eggs and a bag of cornmeal.

I looked at Sawyer but he waved his cousin and grandfather off before noticing.  "If you don't want to go you don't have to."

"What's at the flea market?"

"Everything and a bunch of junk too," he said right before giving a tired yawn.  "A bunch of us usually get together and go.  There are a couple of scratch and dent booths so you might want to try and figure what we could use between now and then.  Hey gotta question for you."


"Do you know how to can?"

"If you mean like preserving food I've never done it by myself but we had a couple of lessons on it last year in class and Linda showed me how to do some when I helped her with her senior project.  Why?"

"Well it's how we preserve a lot of things so we don't have to go to the grocery store.  Gramps and the aunts all want to get a lot of that done this year instead of using the freezers.  I guess Aunt Pearlene ... she's Uncle Junior's wife ... wants to get started on some of the greens that are coming in as well as some other things.  First order of business, so I was told, was for everyone to get together after church on Sunday and try and work out a calendar of work days and that sort of thing."

Following the logic I said, "To get things done as quickly as possible in case the power goes down or the stores close."

"Yeah.  And speaking of I called the co-op and Old Man Baffa paid quarterly in advance and had just made a payment so we're set for a little over two months unless we wind up using so much power we get a special assessment."

"I'll be careful."

"Good.  And I will too.  Er ... I want to do more than go to the flea market on Saturday.  I got a few errands in town so ... uh ... maybe you want to make your list?"

"My list?  Oh.  Oh my list.  Uh ... okay.  Um ... yeah.  Look I gotta finish the dishes before the water gets gross."

I turned and walked back to the kitchen and a few minutes later he followed me.  "Kay-Lee?"


"You mind sleeping in the truck again?"

Trying to be casual about it I answered, "Not if you don't.  I had wanted to at least get that room finished but between one thing and another ..."

"Don't.  You did a heck of a lot more than I expected you to.  Did you sit down when you needed to?  'Cause it looks like you're sore again."

"I am a little."

"You need another one of those napricks or naprocks or .."

"Naproxin.  No, I took one already in case you wanted to do any cleaning tonight."

"No, it's getting dark and I think neither one of us needs to do anymore of that tonight but I would like to at least get our lists started.  That way tomorrow all we have to do is add to them if we think of stuff."

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