Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Empty House

Each week, Indie Chick Lit gives a writing prompt and allows bloggers to link up.


You arrive home after a long day of work to an entirely empty home. There are no indents on the carpet, no wine stains–no sign that you or anyone lives there. Write this scene.


The drive home was long. Not a lot of traffic, really, just long. Long and windy and wet, which also meant slick. Only means I have to drive that much slower. Can't have myself go sailing off a mountain highway . . . . I suppress the horrid images that push their way to the front of my brain. I shudder at the mere thought. Slow and steady, listen to the radio, and just follow the road.

Commercials come on the radio, so I turn it down. I can't change stations - there aren't any others on the mountain. It's lucky I love country music, I just don't love commercials. I'm reminded as I turn the volume down that the speakers are dying, crackling at me. Mocking me. I feel it. The speakers are mocking me. I change over to a CD and start listening to Eric Church. I turn the music up to cover up the crackling sound of my mocking speakers.

I take my turn off, still going slow. Still wet going and there are usually a lot of deer roaming the highway. The wipers continue their thump-thump thump-thump, Eric Church still serenading me through my crackling, mocking speakers. I can't wait until I get home. Change into my pj's, eat the chicken I bought from Popeye's, maybe read a bit.

 I pull onto my street, looking my for house. Everyone is parked on the street making the small street that much more narrow and parking is hard to find. Yay for me. I find my house and see the driveway is empty. I sigh and pull in and park. I shut off my car and grab my purse, cell phone, dinner and my work stuff and haul my stiff ass out of the car. I fumble with the keys and unlock the front door. I search for the light switch, cursing under my breath. I find it and switch it on.

Nothing. I look back outside and realize that none of the neighbor's lights are on and realize the power must be out.

I drop my things and go to my car for a flashlight. I flip it on and walk back into the house. I swing the flashlight around and see nothing. Nothing but the carpet and the linoleum. Bare walls stare at me in the small beam of the flashlight. I sigh and pick up my things and take them to the kitchen. I open the container of food and grab a piece of chicken and just start eating. It's lukewarm at best, but it still tastes good. I grab some fries and the flashlight and wander around the house. The three bedrooms are just as empty as the front of the house.

I suddenly realize that I'm completely alone in a dark house with only a mini flashlight and a bucket of chicken. The neighborhood isn't the greatest; meth addicts live across the street and there's a pot grower down the way. I almost feel as if I've been robbed but obviously there's nothing to take.

I walk back into the kitchen and grab another piece of chicken; my appetite obviously not hurt by my sudden fear of being alone. Either that or I'm eating my feelings. I search one handed in my purse for my cell phone. I find it and dial.

"What's up?"

"Hey, I thought you'd be here by now. Everything okay?" I ask.

"Wound up with a flat tire. I should be there in about twenty minutes, though. You're not eating all that chicken without me, are you?" I hear the teasing in his voice over the roar that is his truck.

"Me? No, never. Although I'm starving so I've just started my second piece. Sorry I didn't wait for you. Also, the power is out."

"No worries, babe. I'll see you in a little bit."

"Drive safe, babe." I press "end" and grab a couple fries and continue with my piece of chicken.

I look up and realize that I left the front door wide open. Smart. The feeling of being utterly stupid crashes over me and I think to myself, I've seen this movie. I'm pretty sure it didn't end well. I close the door and lock it. I have a feeling this will be the longest twenty minutes of my life.

Twenty minutes (which felt like an eternity) later I hear the truck pull up. I open the front door to see him get out of the truck. He reaches back in and pulls out a large lantern and two sleeping bags. He sees the look on my face and said, "What? I called Tom about work stuff and he told me the power was out. I dug through the trailer to find our sleeping bags and my lantern and a couple other things. Where's the chicken? I'm hungry."

He smiles, kisses me, and walks into the house. We lay out the sleeping bags and grab the food for a living room picnic dinner of Popeye's chicken, fries, and beans lit by the lantern. The couple of other things? He'd managed to find two pillows, his portable DVD player, and had rented a movie. A comedy. Smart man.

Unloading the trailer of all of our belongings would have to wait until tomorrow.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Charley (aka Stinkpot)

Last week Boyfriend and I dog-sat Charley, my parents old hound dog. They went to spend a week at the coast with family and were able to take Libby because she's only 5lbs. Unfortunately we just moved 45 minutes away, so I  had to pick Charley up from my parents house after work last weekend and bring her and her two beds, food bowls, food and leash up to our new place. Charley is such a good travel dog - she just lays in the back. You'd forget she was there except for the smell. For 14 years this dog has been rolling in whatever she can find (the stinkier the better) and even though she gets a bath every week or so, she just has an odor. It can be quite the foul odor. But she's a good dog and we all love her. Stench and all.

Now, Wyatt, our kitten, has really never been around dogs before. His tail looked like a bottle brush for about three days. For the first two days he barely went near the dog.

However, on the first night, I told Boyfriend, "Just you wait. He'll just get used to her being here and then it'll be time for her to go home."

After a couple days, Wyatt started attempting to play with Charley. He'd pounce on her feet or her tail. She'd whip her head around at him.

And then one day, I walked into the living room to find this:

The only downside was that when Charley was outside, it often made the dogs across the street bark. Otherwise, she's a pretty easy keeper. We did take her to where the chickens are currently housed and introduced her to the dog there, Logan. He took a liking to her and she was too busy sniffing the ground to pay him too much attention.

She got to go for a couple truck rides and car rides, which she doesn't do anymore. Trust me when I say lifting a 70lb dog by oneself is not an easy task. Especially from the ground to the back of my SUV. Ouch.

Now I just have to convince Boyfriend that we need a dog. 


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Over the hill and off to court we go

In my previous asshat neighbor posts I recalled the details of the neighbor we found out in preparation for court because he filed a restraining order against Boyfriend after he (the asshat neighbor) trespassed on our property after we asked him nicely to shut his dogs up. Because seriously, barking for 5 or sometimes 10 hours at a time just isn't annoying. At. All.

After Boyfriend's first court appearance, which was for the judge to see if Mr. Asshat wanted to pursue the restraining order and if Boyfriend rejected or accepted it. Boyfriend rejected it, of course, stating a few facts. This meant the judge had to set aside an entire afternoon aside to hear testimony from all parties involved.

She set the date for mid-January. We were all planning to attend - me, Boyfriend, and Grandma. Unfortunately, by the time the court date arrived, Grandma decided she didn't want to go because she "believed" that the judge only wanted to hear from those who witnessed what happened the night Boyfriend accidentally dinged their front door with the flashlight - and that the trespassing incident wouldn't be talked of. When the judge asked where she was, Boyfriend told her that his Grandma's health has been bad since the start of the entire situation - which was actually true. She woke us up in the middle of the night once worried she had a clot in her lung. Turned out she didn't and the ER doctors said it was her arrhythmia.

The judge already had our paperwork we submitted in our response to the restraining order. We didn't realize that we could submit any new evidence. Oddly enough, Mr. Asshat did; he brought letters of recommendation from previous tenants. Looked a bit falsified to me. He brought his entire family. Boyfriend only had me. The judge asked that all witnesses sit outside while testimony was in progress so that future testimony wouldn't be influenced. That meant that I was sooooooooooooooo lucky to have the . . . um, privilege of sitting on the most uncomfortable benches ever with Mr. Asshat's wife, two daughters, son, and 2 year old grandson. Which by the way, that toddler was the loudest child I've ever met in my life. Now, I fully realize that the courthouse hall walls echo the sounds made on the marble floors. And that sometimes toddlers like to hear that echo. This toddler didn't give a shit. He just ran up and down the hallway - stomping everywhere. I swear that a herd of horses would be quieter in those halls. He kept trying to get in the courtroom. And what did Mom (the 21 year old with a second in the oven) do? Nothing. What the aunt and uncle do (especially while Mom was in the courtroom testifying)? Tried to continuously bribe the kid with chocolate. Which worked for about oooohhhhhh 3 seconds.

Also? It wasn't just the seats that were uncomfortable. I had to sit outside the courtroom for at least two hours before I was called in. I had to sit outside the courtroom with the entire family. Of course, I wasn't allowed to speak to them even if I wanted to.

When I was finally called in, I wasn't asked to sit at the witness stand. I was told to sit in a juror chair. The judge thanked me for my patience and explained to me that Mr. Asshat would ask me some questions and after that Boyfriend would be able to ask me questions and she would interject as she saw fit or ask questions herself. I was so nervous; I've never been in court before, never been in front of a judge. It's not cool, man.

Mr. Asshat began asking me a few questions regarding the night in question and I answered honestly. He said that our houses are roughly 400 yards apart and with our windows closed, TV on, and cooking dinner, we shouldn't hear his dogs. The judge interjected, by saying that 400 yards is 4 football fields (um . . . duh) and asked if I thought that seemed right. I told her that to me, it looked more like 1 to 1.5 football fields and turned to Mr. Asshat and said, "The dogs sound like they are in our yard barking. Just because the windows are closed doesn't mean they're sound proof." He asked me how a simple flashlight could make such a ding in the door as it's solid oak (or whatever wood) unless it was swung on purpose with a great amount of force. I replied with, "It's a large, heavy duty maglite that weighs a good couple of pounds and is at least one foot long. Boyfriend was talking with his hands and the flashlight accidentally hit the door. There was no intention behind it."  Mr. Asshat tried asking a few questions but never got around to the question, which annoyed the judge who would eventually break in and ask the question for him. At one point she asked him, "It's not as easy as it looks on TV, is it?" I nearly laughed out loud.

Boyfriend really only had one question for me. "When the flashlight hit the front door, did it appear that I swung the flashlight across my body as if to hit someone and missed?" I know a look of confusion swept over my face, because where did that question come from?! I answered honestly, "No. You didn't swing the flashlight across your body and you didn't swing it at anyone. If you had swung it, it would have hit the left door which stayed closed during the conversation."

The judge asked a few questions, like if alcohol was involved in with Boyfriend to which I replied that he'd had a beer with dinner. She also asked what we had had for dinner. Being that it had been three months prior my honest answer was that I couldn't remember.

In the end, she upheld the restraining order. For three years. And Boyfriend would have to give up his firearms and turn in proof within 48 hours.

Her reason? Had nothing to really do with the incident with the front door of Mr. Asshat's house. It had to do with Mr. Asshat trespassing on our property and Boyfriend having his 9mm at his side on video tape. However, by the time Boyfriend confronted Mr. Asshat, Mr. Asshat was on the street, not on our property and that Boyfriend knew who it was from the beginning.

The contradiction? The judge said it was "excessive" whereas the sheriff's deputy that showed up on the scene afterwards said Boyfriend had every right to have his weapon at his side.

After we left the courthouse, Boyfriend filled me in on what happened while I was waiting out in the hall with the lead-footed toddler hopped up on the chocolate he was bribed with to stay quiet. Supposedly, the "letters of recommendations" that Mr. Asshat had procured since the first court date from previous tenants of our house didn't sit well with the judge. I thought they looked like he'd typed them  up himself; the judge thought he'd coached the people on what to say. All of his kids had tried telling the story that Boyfriend had swung the flashlight across his body to hit the oldest daughter and missed her and hit the door. Boyfriend always asked the same question which stumped them and laid out the lie they were telling - "wouldn't the ding on the door be on the other door considering I'm right handed and the flashlight was in my right hand?" None of them had an answer for that.

Being that the judge upheld the restraining order, she ordered Boyfriend to get rid of any and all guns he owned within 48 hours. He had to go to a licensed gun dealer, who had to sign a court document that he had taken in said guns, and then Boyfriend had to take that back to the court for proof.  Which he did.

Since the court date, Mr. Asshat's dogs have continued to bark, they've been on our property and they've taken large shits in our yard and by our cars. We have found other weird stuff off and on; stuff that doesn't make a lot of sense. And we have been caught in a limbo as the sheriff's department won't do anything, because they don't dispatch out for barking dogs and tell us to call animal control. Animal control, for outside the city limits, is manned by one person, so to get a call-back is near impossible. And with the restraining order, we can't go over and ask them to shut their dogs up. We continued to call the sheriff's department at least once a week to complain.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The move is finally over

It is now official. We are out of the old place and into the new place. I did the final walk-through at the prior rental this morning. Trust me when I say that the house was cleaner when we left than when we moved in. It took all of five minutes; I didn't even have to argue about the crap on the walls that was there when we moved in (and tried to scrub off to no avail). The only thing that will come out of our deposit will be the carpet cleaning, only because we were there longer than 90 days.

We are now able to completely put the last four months behind us. We no longer have to deal with the asshat neighbor (which I need to finish that story). We don't have to deal with Boyfriend's Grandma's bad attitude. And hopefully she's done making up lists of stuff we "stole" from her (when in reality it's stuff she left behind and forgot about). We can focus on us, setting some money aside, and house hunting for something that we will both love and that will work for us and mostly, be nice and quiet.

I've spent the week unpacking and getting the house set up. I still have to figure out stuff on the walls, and I'd like to find some valances for at least the living room windows.

I've discovered I have the power here. The power of unpacking what I packed and I am the only one who knows where everything is. Boyfriend constantly asks me where things are.

Boyfriend's commute has gone from about an hour each way to about two minutes each way. My commute twice a week for my weekend job is now about an hour each way. However, while I'm in Redding, I will run errands, go grocery shopping, and that fun stuff. No special trips to town because I forgot something . . . considering it's an hour. The nearest grocery store is about twenty minutes away in the nearest (not-as-small) small town. In our town, we have two mini-marts. Emphasis on "mini". 

I never found Harriet. It  breaks my heart. I spent at least an hour one night, sitting by the hidey box that Boyfriend made for her, crying uncontrollably. I miss her so much. Her missing kept Boyfriend up during the night. We cried together the night before we moved; I admitted I felt like I was abandoning her. I finally had a dream about her last night. During the day (in the dream), she'd be missing and I'd be heartbroken. But when I slept, she'd be at my head, purring away, her whiskers tickling my face. Day would return and she'd be gone. But when I slept, she'd be back. I awoke feeling loved by my kitty.

As I waited for the rental agent for the walk-through, I walked around outside, again looking and calling her name. As before, silence greeted me.

The not knowing hurts the most. I miss my little keekers. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Life Gets Crazy and Then Your Beloved Cat Goes MISSING

Boyfriend and I found a place to rent in the town where he works. We found it last week.

On Monday, he quickly decided he wanted out of the house this week. We took a trailer load of stuff today. Mom and I cleaned and unpacked everything labeled "kitchen". The upside, is minus a few random items, the new kitchen is clean and set up and ready to go. The downside is that the entire move is basically a cluster-fuck and it's driving me crazy. 

I've been calling our utilities to get stuff set up, transferred, moved, and cancelled. Thank God for speaker phone.

Monday night, Boyfriend opened the sliding glass door to let some cool air in. This door has never had a screen door, even though we've asked the landlord for one.

Sometime Monday night, my beloved kitty, Miss Harriet, got curious and went outside. It was pouring down rain. My guess is she got spooked by something and she took off to hide. I spent an hour wandering the property looking for her. Mom came over and helped me do it all over again. We poked around in the ground cover, shrubs, trees, bushes, the barns, even got down on my hands and knees in the mud to look under barns/sheds, over-turned boats, etc . . . and yes, even everywhere in the house. We even drove around, looking for her . . . nothing by the side of the road.

I even took her plastic red food dish that I tap on when I want to feed her canned food by surprise. The tapping will usually bring her out from anywhere and she's ready to munch on her treat.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Tuesday night came and she still hadn't come around.

People kept telling me once it stopped raining, she'd come out of hiding.

It stopped and she hasn't.

I've checked with the neighbors. Nothing.

She's not an adventurous cat. She gets down low and hides when scared versus climbing (although she still has all of her claws, so she could climb if needed). I can't even imagine her leaving the yard. I know that if she could hear me hollering for her, she'd meow or yowl. And I hear nothing.

Not a single peep, meow, yowl, growl, hiss, scream. Nothing.

And that worries me most of all.

We are moving this week. I don't want to leave without her. Without knowing.

I have been crying for two days.

Miss Harriet has been one of my BFF's for ten years. She was a stray I took in that had been dumped at a pet store. She kept my lap and feet warm on cold winter days and nights. She purred in my ear, happy and content during the night. She let me cry into her fur when I was upset. I cajoled her after having been drugged for dentals or shaving. She politely followed me around the kitchen, quietly begging for canned food. Sometimes, not so quietly. She was my companion in my otherwise lonely apartments in Sacramento. She put up with me moving a lot recently and even became friends with Wyatt, our new kitten. She became more comfortable in the house and wasn't even upset about the recent packing. She had re-found her perch atop my recliner and was content in watching the kitten play with a string.

I severely miss my cat. She has been there for me for ten years and I her.

My heart aches.

My eyes burn.

Not knowing what may have happened or if she's hurt or scared and can't find her way back after the 24 hours of solid rain . . . that is the worst thing in the world.

I want my Harriet back. And I want her back NOW.

It is now Tuesday night. I have again walked the property, crawled around, called her name, her nickname, made kissing noises and looked everywhere.


People tell me their stories of how their cat went missing for a couple days then showed back up. I hope that happens. I want her back more than words can say.

How is it that silence is deafening? Because it is.