Sunday, August 3, 2014

Chapter 9


"First floor is a little cleaner but it smells worse.  Like the old folks home out on Rt. 4 and I didn't think much could stink like that place."

Unfortunately I knew exactly what he meant because I'd lived there for almost four months after one hospitalization left me bed bound the whole of one summer and then some.  It was a sad depressing place where they warehoused people living on government support until they died.

"Hey, you ok?  You're a little green around the gills."

I thought about blowing it off but then decided to just tell him.  "It's the smell of dirty bodies and sick people waiting to die.  That place has more violations than most people can imagine but the government inspectors don't care.  They come around, see how everything is, and don't do a thing about it.  There's too few staff for the number of residents and the people they do hire really just don't give a crap.  People that do care just can't take it after a while and find another job plus they don't pay much."

"How do you know?"

"I lived there the summer before high school.  I wasn't sick enough to be in the hospital but there wasn't any room in the rehab centers around here so ..."  I shrugged and tried to play it off like it didn't matter.

Sawyer said a really rude cuss word but not wanting him to get the wrong idea I explained, "That was my last operation.  You don't have to worry about anything like that now.  I'd refuse even if someone told me that's what I needed to fix something."

"That's ... that's not what I meant.  I just ... you were a kid and they stuck you in that place?  Damn."

"Don't worry about it Sawyer.  The only reason I said something was ... well I don't want it to sound like I'm lying if it comes out later on.  Since we're going to do this ... I mean honesty is best right?"

"Yeah definitely but I didn't realize ... Maybe you should sit down or something."

"Oh don't start," I told him.  "My life didn't make me breakable, it made me tough.  And I'll sit down when we finish this.  I'm not weak or helpless."

He looked at me then said, "No.  No I don't guess you are.  But I got another stipulation."

Worried about what it might be I still said, "Ok."

"Don't fake it just to prove you're tough.  If you ... you know ... need to sit or whatever you need to do then you do it.  Deal?"

"Uh ... o ... okay.  Sure.  Deal."

"Ok, if you're sure you don't need to rest then let’s finish this up and then we can get ready to meet the Justice of the Peace.  He's some kind of Hartford cousin and we'll get this done and over with."

Ignoring the butterflies in my stomach the best I could I followed him to the end of the house opposite the kitchen.  He opened a door and then squinted.  "God I hope the windows work on this floor."

Lucky for us the ones we tried did and we opened all the windows that we could.  "Whew that definitely helps."

Picking up a piece of paper taped to the pillow I told Sawyer, "There's a note here that says the appliance company is coming to pick up the hospital bed and the other equipment tomorrow between eight and twelve."

"Between 8 and 12?  I was supposed to help Cutter and Beth set up their trailer."

"Then go do it.  I helped clean up and move out the stuff when Old Mrs. Brenser died ... she was the mother of the ... never mind.  Look, just go do what you gotta.  I'm used to making do and doing things on my own.  I won't run off.  I promise."

"You sure?  I mean I don't think you'll run off just ..."

"So long as they don't shut the power off I'll do some laundry and stuff like that to try and get the musty smell out."  Looking around I added, "I don't think that nurse did much cleaning."

"She may not have been good at cleaning but from the looks of her she looked like she was pretty good at sittin'."

I tried not to smile 'cause it was kinda mean but Sawyer was just being honest.  But when he suddenly snapped out another curse I wasn't sure what had caused it.

"Dammit, I need to check to make sure ... Gramps warned me there was more to ... I ..."

I stood there waiting for him to wind down then he noticed me.  "Little help here would be nice."

"I'm waiting for you to explain what you are having a fit over and then I'll see if I can help.  Right now I have no clue what you're going on about."

That stopped him.  He took a deep breath and said, "You're right.  I'm running on too little sleep and nerves.  I ... I'll try to not ..."  He gathered his thoughts and then said, "It's the electric.  If we don't have electric we don't have much of anything but a roof and some walls.  And I gotta check the propane.  And food ... we'll need groceries.  And all of it is going to take money ... and you don't have any so that means I've gotta hope what I have left in savings will at least get us started."

"How much money?"

"Do I have in savings?  I ..."

"No.  The electric and stuff like that."

"I'm not sure.  Why?"

"Well, we gotta make a plan and ... and ... well ... we gotta make a plan."  I leaned against the wall as all of it started to hit me.  This wasn't make believe and if it wasn't make believe or a dream or whatever that means I was right back where I left off which meant all the years the state had been keeping me were suddenly over and I was going to have to make my own way.  And I was scared.  Very, very scared.

"Easy.  You're starting to look green again."

Before I could stop myself I whispered, "I don't want to go on the street.  I'll wind up ... wind up ..."

"Hey, it isn't that bad.  Gramps said the power might not be on through the summer anyway.  So I do want to get that propane taken care of first.  OK?"  I could feel myself shaking.  "Hey, you're really scared."

"I knew that I'd be out on the street sooner rather than later.  I'm coming up on eighteen.  I kept looking for some way ... job, making myself so useful someone would want me, starting my own business, something, anything but look at me.  I mean really look at me.  Even in school they put me in the SLD program and told me I better just stick with the hospitality & culinary track because that was likely all anyone would hire me to do.  They didn't want many of the SLD students in Child Care because of the liability.  I couldn't keep up in the academic tracks because they cut off the tutoring I was getting.  I ... I ... I ..."

"Ok.  Stop.  Come here and sit down.  Come on.  Now look at me.  You ain't gonna be put out on the street.  And neither am I.  Even if we can't keep the electric on everything else is going to be ok because everyone else will likely be in the same boat soon enough too.  And look over there.  See that?  It's a fireplace and there's a couple others here in the house.  Uncle Junior is a stone mason and he can help me check to see if they're sound or show me how to repair them if they need that.  Wood isn't a problem.  There's some downed trees that I saw driving in and I'll borrow Gramps' splitter or trade work or something.  Groceries ... well, we'll figure something out and then we'll get shares from the harvest.  It's gonna be ok."

I finally had my breathing under control and turned to look at him and say, "I'm not a baby.  I know how things stand.  And I'm not helpless.  It's just ..."

"Yeah.  For me too.  Everywhere you turn it feels like something stands against you."

I just looked at him wondering how a guy that looks like he looks could have the same problems as me.  It didn't seem possible.

3 comments:

  1. Great story Kathy you had me hooked on the first chapter and every one after is better than the one before.
    Wayne

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  2. This just keeps getting more and more interesting Kathy

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  3. I helped clean out an old house like this when old relatives went on to their great reward. Spent days carting out furniture, old possessions from before WWII, magazines by the hundreds. Old doilies and crochet work, quilts, feather ticks so old they were dust. A lot of fun antiques but tons of just plain junk. The house was huge and fun with strange twists and turns. It was an interesting week.

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