Monday, August 18, 2014

Chapter 19

I came out of the closet covering my nose and mouth.  "Whew, every time I think I've found the last of the stink I run up on more of it."

"What did you find this ... whoa ... what is in that closet?"  The face that Sawyer was making mirrored my own disgusted expression.

"Old boots, old coats and some old boxes with ..."  I gingerly pulled back the lid of one of the boxes and said, "With old magazines in them."  I had to back out of the closet because it was making me want to gag; I had just eaten.

"Why in the hell would he put a book case in front of a closet door?  I swear he was crazy."

Coughing and sneezing I walked over to the window to get some fresh air.  "Whatever he was it sure wasn't healthy to live this way."

Sawyer walked over to join me.  "You ok?"

"Yeah just that stuff stinks even worse than that upstairs closet did.  This is more like a frig that hasn't been cleaned out for a long time.  Something is definitely rotten in there."

"Well you got the one upstairs so I'll get this one, just hand me a clothes basket and hold the screen door open for me.  I'm just going to pitch this stuff out into the yard."

The boxes of magazines were too heavy to just pitch so they sat on the edge of the porch while Sawyer and I sat in the swing giving our sinuses a chance to recover.  "Man that was powerful," Sawyer griped. "I hope that bucket of bleach water you set in there hurrys up and does its thing."

I shook my head and voiced a fleeting thought.  "Maybe he was a hoarder, like on those tv specials ... only the mentally ill kind not the kind that the government is always warning against."

"You mean the kind Gramps is?"

I snorted and then sneezed what felt like a field of dust bunnies out of my nose.  When I got my breath back I told him, "Your grandfather isn't like the government says.  He's taking care of his family.  The ones the government is talking about are selfish."

"Betcha the government really doesn't care one way or the other, they just don't want some people to have more than others."

I shrugged.  "Maybe.  The government is just another form of mental illness if you ask me.  They're all crazy and make no sense most of the time."

Sawyer laughed and then got down and reluctantly crawled over to put the boxes into the wheelbarrow to take them to the burn pile but the first one he picked up fell apart as he tried to lift it.  Magazines started slipping and sliding all over the place and I bent down to help him.  We both noticed it at about the same time.

Sawyer said, "You have got to be kidding me."

"Is that ...?"

Sawyer was flipping pages in a magazine he picked up and said, "Yep.  There's a one dollar bill between every page.  See if any of the others are like this."

After we had unboxed all of the magazines Sawyer looked down inside the grocery bag I'd brought over to keep stuff from flying around.  "Dang that old man was craaaazy.  I mean really crazy not just half crazy.  Have we put anything else like this on the burn pile?"


"You sure?" he asked double checking.

"I'm sure.  Remember we just stacked those other magazines and books in that back room until we could decide which to keep and which to pitch.  They smell and we didn't even mess with them, just stacked them in there."

"Well let's take this inside and then go look.  And we need to start looking in coat pockets and all other kind of weird places.  I'll need to go over the mattresses before I start burning them too."


"'Cause that's what crazy people do with their money or so says this book I read one time.  One of the stories in it was about this old guy that died and when they came to clean out his house they found money in all kinds of weird places like the freezer, the phone book, the back of pictures, inside his mattress, you name it.  A couple of years later the person that had bought the house went to remodel and found that the crazy guy had even taped money to the plaster and then wall papered over it."

I'd seen crazy in the foster system but that even sounded strange to me.  I shrugged and told Sawyer, "I guess it takes all kinds."


I wiped the sweat off of my forehead and said, "Ok, I'm beat and just about as weirded out as I care to be."

"You and me both.  And Baffa didn't say a word about this in those papers.  Not a word.  Gramps is never going to believe this and if we tell any of the others they'll be around here tearing up stuff and trying to 'help' find more."

"Maybe that's why Mr. Baffa didn't want anything to be taken from the house.  I mean he taped dollar bills to the bottom of just about every piece of furniture we've gone through so far."

He didn't respond and I looked at him.  He had a troubled expression.  "Sawyer?  You ok?"

He looked at me and said, "They'll think I stole it.  It'll be just like last time."

"You didn't steal it.  We found it."

"You know it.  I can probably get Gramps to believe me, especially after we show him; but most everyone else will think I stole it from someplace."

"'Cause anyone that knows me will know I don't have any money."

He glanced at me real quick and then relaxed when he saw I wasn't being snarky, just stating a fact.  He mumbled, "Gotta think about this."

I limped over to the dining room and sat down in a chair and looked at what we'd found thus far.  Most of the magazines held twenty to thirty dollars; some held more and some held less but that was the average.  We found one's, five's, and ten's taped to most of the drawers in the house.  There were one's and five's between a lot of the pages in the books and magazines we had set into the old kitchen.  There were some bills stuck in picture frames and it was tedious to check each one, not to mention a little creepy.  The worst though had to be when Sawyer got the idea to check the smelly boots.  There was a roll of cash stuck in the toe of each boot and the smell was so bad I found a plastic tub and started gathering all of the cash, putting a layer of bills down then sprinking it with baking soda.

Looking around before speaking Sawyer asked, "You've been keeping a rough count?"

"Yeah.  Have you?"

"Yeah.  That's why I said people were going to think I stole it."

"I'll tell them ..."

"No.  No I don't want you to have to get in the middle of that stuff.  We're just going to have to be extra careful how we spend it."

"I'd say just let everyone think it came from the bank but one whiff and no way anyone would believe that."

Sawyer gave a surprised and unwilling chuckle.  "You ain't kidding.  I think we'll need to wash it or something.  At least it is in small bills and they're worn so we don't have to have people complaining about accepting anything bigger than a $20."

"There's a lot of small bills.  I don't think anyone will appreciate being paid in only one's either."

"Like I said, we'll have to be careful and pay attention.  At least now ... you know, I got an idea."


"Friday I'll go to town and stop by the bank and make a withdrawal from savings - I was planning to anyway.  But I'll gripe about having to buy a new mattress and box springs and how expensive everything is.  The tellers are always so nosey and wanting to know why you take more than a couple hundred out anyway.  Telling them that will give them something to chew on.  We do need mattresses - Gramps was right about that especially now that I've cut the old ones up looking inside them - but I know a place that sells them off the truck so we won't have to pay showroom prices."

"How much does a mattress cost anyway?"  When he told me I almost wilted.  "Every time I turn around that pile of money looks a whole lot smaller.  I should feel rich but something tells me I'm just fooling myself if I go that direction."

Welcome to the life of the working man.


  1. I wouldn't mind a crazy grandpa right about now with food prices going through the roof! Where are thou grampaaaaaaaaaaaa

  2. Thanks for more of this great story Kathy