Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The next 24

The next 24 hours were foggy and felt like uncomfortable jeans. I roamed and paced the floors aimlessly. I overfed the cats. I ran a load of nothing in the washer and  I  put my lingerie in the dishwasher. I was disoriented. Well, I was more disoriented than I usually am. In pacing laps around the worn floors I passed by  my other 'beep beep' hanging  by the door. It shivered every time I paced by from its hook on the key plaque, like a puppy ready to go on a ride, can we? can we, huh? can we?a run of fun in the great outdoors. I wrapped my hand around it; ran a finger over the red beep beep button and gently pressed it, then kept pushing it, pushing it, pushing it. No cabrio responded. The memory of that familiar noise moaned a faint echo that ran over and over in my head like a skipped record.

 I curled up in my old red chair and held tight. I was mad with Law and Order because the detectives had been busy catching thieves and murderers when they could have been chasing down the crack dealer right on my street. In fact, if they had worked the case undercover in my zip code, the whole demolition would never have happened at all. In a fair world, the psychic cops would have flashed their badges as the couple got into their car at the bar. The car would never have met the pavement on my street. Oh, the humanity of it all. sigh.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The next step after Calvin's demise

Catching up- The depression over losing Calvin laid over me like a warm soggy blanket. My  inside thinking mechanisms were out of order. I couldn't bring myself to think of what to look for. Another cabrio? No. I was loyal and true. Besides, how could I ever hope to find another one with the special gifts mine had? How many cabrios could sprout tomatoes? self -decorate in the winter weather, with real live icicles? save orphaned plants on the run.....

What about a truck? Of course not. I'm only a truck person 2 % of the time. How could I carry my special teen triplet friends in a truck? 

Nothing felt right or good. If a vehicle had wheels on it, I found a reason to nix the consideration. I reminded myself of my children years ago when one would want juice but not 'that' juice, and then not 'that' cup, and then not 'that' much or not 'that' little bit. I wasn't upset, I was cauterized still.

My daughter found a  car rental place open on Sunday and went with me to pick a foster car. I kept thinking it is just a borrowed car. not a real car someone would keep for any length of time. It is just a ride. "You don't have to like it or get to know it, my thoughts whispered. "It is a special task service vehicle to help you in your search."

My take-action daughter talked with the guy at the desk while I think-talked myself into the deal. Something inside me  thought if I had to have some temp replacement, then the smaller the better - maybe those were more likely to disappear and maybe I could disappear too. My logic said do a, b, c. My entangled emotions said do nothing. I felt it a rude action to drive another before the first had even been buried. I thought it criminal to drive a spiffy free wheeling anything while my baby was not even rusted yet.

Daughter was patient and sounded surprisingly chipper when she handed me the key to the rental. I recognized my own voice -of -old disguised in her voice of now.  I remembered,"Hey girls, let's go see Dr. Salter. It will be fun looking at the new rooms and all." I hid the tidbit about it being time for shots. We walked around the vehicle. The rental guy gripped his clipboard so tight it started clicking and slipping out of his grip. grip slip click. grip slip click. I sensed his anxiety and thought it kind of him to try to understand how I felt but later decided he probably thought I was someone from Corporate headquarters, testing his patience, which I was doing quite well.

I  walked around again. I could not make myself get close enough to touch the handle despite my attempts at reaching for it. Daughter led me into the open door and smiled as she closed it. I sat. looked at the dash, the gizmos and gadgets. I wanted Calvin. I heard a muffled "MOM" through the window and cranked the engine. When I drove off, the rental guy was scratching and shaking his head and my daughter was patting him on the back and offering him a tic tac.

I got "the call" a couple of days later from a Dragnet insurance adjuster who was at the tow yard. She was sharp and direct and quickly let me know how much repairs would be. They outweighed the car's value (according to Kelly blue). My option of taking measures to put Calvin on life support or pulling the plug fell apart. There was no choice. I just needed to say okay and wait for the check. Kelly Blue does not take into consideration true value points.  What do books know anyway? Kelly can say what Kelly says, but I knew, knew deep in my heart, that that cabrio was priceless. It had been very good to me despite its illnesses over the years.

When I was exploring other 4 wheel possibilities to see what kind of spending numbers we were looking at, it was easy to see the list of options and yay or nay them. the problem was that not all options were listed. Manuals were cheaper than automatics. Extras like AC and Steering wheels included were more expensive in the used cars I looked at. What about the other important options?
  • Carries bulbs and oversized plants well
  • cooks dashboard delicacies
  • loves to play loud music
  • Is willing and sort of able to carry 15 or more concrete blocks without losing steering strength
  • accepts stuffed garbage  bags with composted leaves or dirt and will hold them for extended lengths of time
  • sprouts seeds in a timely fashion.
  • holds oversized yard sale furniture without
  • carries extended lengths of bamboo borrowed from vacant rental properties- in style.
  • quiets screaming children with the top -down- child- safety -plan

Some said It had been chronically ill in the later months of his life. He did suffer brake indigestion issues, 5 flats in a 6 month period but he didn't smoke and he didn't drink much.  Some weeks were 10$ weeks and other were 20 it depended on his frame of mind
I prefer to say he was a special needs vehicle with lots of extraordinary character traits and gifts.

It was time to start looking for a new vehicle. Not a replacement for Calvin, mind you.
I was resistant. Friends were excited.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Calvin's demise

I've not written in a long time. I've watched my jars of collected words dwindle down to consonants and a few os and ys. Those sneaks have been escaping during this time of no writing. Had a grievious event occur unexpectedly, and ghost walked through a week or ten days feeling paralyzed with  sadness and shock. Supportive friends and daughters helped, and I had a good talk yesterday with a wise wise friend. Last night as i wasn't finding sleep, I managed to lasso the story.

It was a period Friday night. The kind of night that puts a dot at the end of the week. After work, I met my daughter at the Y and we ipoded our way through some time on the illiptical machine. I stopped by the grocery before heading home. The Teeter had a special buy- one- get -one-free Cup-a-Quiet, and I had a coupon, so... score!! I looked forward to just being home and still. My little black cabrio turned onto my street and I wondered, as I drove past the townhouses that lined the way, "How many are there? 100? more?" Built in the 40's they have withstood time pretty well.
I didn't like having to park on the street, but in the 6 years I have lived at 1040, my propensity for parallel parking has improved greatly. I lucked up and was able to park right in front of my unit by the steps. Woo hoo!! home at last...

It was one a.m., the cats and I were watching another Law and Order Marathon. A dumpster truck came by and the sound of one of those big boxes being lifted and shaken shaken shaken drowned out the show. Good grief. Those guys work some long hours. The city doesn't pay them nearly enough for this kind of late night work. Dedication, that's all there is to that, pure ded-i-cay-shun. I pondered this as I sipped on my cup of delicious quiet. A commercial interruption broke my concentration long enough for a teeeny tiny thread of reality to work its way to my consciousness. I realized that:

1. There ARE no dumpsters anywhere nearby, and
2. What the heck was going on outside?

I slid off the bed and wandered over to the window. My two cats spent many an afternoon lounging on this second floor sill. I opened the window and gazed through the trees. Down a few units, I saw an SUV sitting catty corner right in the middle of the road. A girl got out and puked. She staggered up the street screaming, "Help me, he's trying to kill me!"

I walked back to my bed and picked up my cell from the bedside table. I paused, and glanced at the TV. Another episode had started and the scene wasn't too far off from what I was witnessing outside in the street. Wow. Detectives Olivia and Elliott arrived on the set and I left them to solve the television crime while I dialed 911. I gave my address and described what I had seen. While I was talking, a man in a black leather jacket climbed out of the driver's side of the SUV and started running up the street after the screaming girl, rasping, "Where's the crack, bitch?"

I hesitated a moment and spoke into the phone, "Oh, and officer, I think there may be drugs involved." Then I hung up.

I stood in my bare feet, leaning on the sill between the cats and made a closer observation of the crime scene below me. Clearly, the SUV had hit something, but what? The car’s injured front headlights cast their lights on two empty parking spaces across the street; I saw no road kill or body parts scattered about. My side of the street had a couple of cars parked on either end of the block. Hmm.
I propped my elbows on the sill, rested my chin in my hands, and thought out loud to the cats. “Well, kitts, I think I may have been mistaken in my assumptions. I bet the dumpster noise was probably the point of impact. Ooh. Hmm. That makes sense.”

I glanced up at the night sky, "Nice night."

Glancing again over the street below I thought, "Now where did I park tonight?"
The thread took on a wiry twist and continued to weave and wriggle through my brain.The squiggle found a voice and started chanting "Something is a-wry, a-wry, a-wry."

I looked down the way to the right. No Cabrio there. hmmm.

I looked down the other way to the Left. Nope. hmmm .

I looked down the way to the steps out front. Nuthin'. hmmm.  Then, "Oh, yeah! I got lucky and found that space right by the....... steps."

I looked down again at the steps. No Cabrio. asphalt? yes. car? no.

The inside voice grew stronger. "That was a looooooooooooong noise you heard. Almost like a vehicle, that could not possibly resemble yours, being brutally struck, abducted and dragged some distance. Almost."
I cleaned my glasses with the hem of my nightie and tried looking down again. No matter how many times I looked, blinked, or stared, I could not make the cabrio appear. I heard myself croak, “Oh crap.”

The puky girl and black leather guy came running down the street. He chased her around the SUV and through the grass. She kept screaming and  he kept rasping about the damn crack, then suddenly disappeared into the night. She cried her way to the car just as the police arrived.

When the first squad car approached, its headlights bounced off of something across the street in the grass, and my eyes were pulled to it like a magnet. The light reflected off of a familiar looking piece of orange plastic. I knew that shape. It was a parking light. I loved that little light. "I think they hit the cabrio."

The cats looked at me, then each other. They meowed under their cat breaths,  "No shit, Sherlock"

I raced downstairs, pulled on my shoes, and grabbed my coat. When I opened the front door, a policeman was standing on the stoop with his hands in his pockets. He was young and reminded me of an anxious schoolboy, staring down at his shoes.

Maybe he was checking on the single middle aged woman who lives here, in case she was frightened by the noise.
Maybe he needed to use the bathroom, and he heard I lived here and that I was a very welcoming woman who loaned out her bathroom to strangers.

He stood awkwardly at the door and appeared to be struggling to find words. I decided to help him out.

"It's a black cabrio, isn't it?"

Relieved at not having to deliver this news, he exhaled about 35 pounds of dread and said, "You might want to pull some long pants on, it's cold out."
I followed his advice and grabbed a pair of sweats that were in line for laundering. They were so covered with cat hair that they were fuzzy. Ratty old nightie, fuzzy sweats, bare feet in untied athletic shoes and a quilted half coat later, I ventured out.

I walked past the offending vehicle in the road and saw my little car crunched in the dark, huddled alone, pushing against a sign that said "Pick up your dog's crap... City of This" His back tires looked like a toy car that had been stepped on by an unsuspecting adult.. both tires were flat and slanted in. They looked like they had to pee and were trying to hold it. The back driver's panel was gone, guts exposed. If I had only thought to bring a blanket….I made my way to the front.The grill was bent around the sign post.

The policeman walked over to me and shook his head. He started to speak, but I held up my hand and said, "Don't ." He moved around me and continued to draw the yellow chalk line around the lifeless Volkswagen.
While the girl was being interviewed by one cop a few others were walking around with flashlights looking for the culprit who had run off. "He's a drug dealer, he got in my car and I knew he was drunk because I was too, but I couldn't stop him, so I got in too and he got mad and we were fighting and then we hit....................................................."
…..and then they hit, at full speed, an innocent black cabrio that had settled into his perfectly parallel parked space for the night. They then dragged it several car lengths down the road and somehow pushed it across the street, over the curb and into a No-shit sign..

I walked back across the street , went inside and called my eldest. She had mentioned she was going out on the town, so I wasn’t sure she’d be interested in coming over. “Hello?” I heard noise and fun going on in the background.
“Are you having fun?” "Yep."
 I looked outside at the now, 6 or 8 policemen who were looking vigilantly for the crack and the crack head who had disappeared into the night. “Are you sober?”

“What happened?” she louded into the phone.

I spoke in my most motherly protective tone “The cabrio got hit, no one is hurt, but don’t come over here if you’re not completely sober because police are all over the place.”
“I’ll be right there.”

A little while later, she and her bf showed up and we had a lovely time of show and tell. Her friend whipped out a camera and was snapping pics as if it was a crime scene from CSI. She had it down.

We went inside and called the insurance company. Daughter kindly took the reigns and answered the questions to get the ball rolling.

I felt the need to talk to someone but everyone I knew usually used this time of night to catch some zzzzs. Then I remembered a friend I had happened upon on FB one night late like this, so I called her cell, and lo! She was awake. On that FB night, she had been sipping a cup of Drowsy tea in hopes of becoming, well, drowsy. We talked until she thought she might be getting ready to start  feeling like she might be getting a little drowsy and just hearing her say that made me yawn so we hung up.

I told her I was glad she answered! I asked her how the tea-sleep therapy was working and she said, not very well. She told me that the Drowsy tea hadn’t done a thing that FB night after all, so she tried some Double Drowsy, but that didn’t even make her yawn! She was confident in the Extremely Double Drowsy she was drinking tonight because it was concentrated and the suggested serving size was 64 ounces. She was on her third serving of Extremely Double Drowsy tea when I called. After a very short conversation I wondered how anyone could sleep very long if they had had three servings of that. I thought that maybe the Extremely Double Drowsy had been a misnomer and maybe it should be called something like Quick and Ready or maybe Tinkletime tea .

We went back outside as the tow guy was getting Calvin onto the back of a truck. He had a paperclip sticking out of his mouth and he smelled of motor oil, so I could tell he was a real professional in the auto tow world.
“This yours?” he spoke through his teeth that were gripping the clip. Looking at that made my teeth hurt. Looking at that made me want to offer him a piece of aluminum foil so all of his teeth might enjoy the metal on enamel experience, but I held back.

I shook my head and patted the cabrio’s crushed back end as it was pulled onboard the train- to -nowhere -good.

He shook his head then our eyes met. He stopped, stood up a little straighter, then respectfully said, “You’ve kept her in pretty good shape considering her age” He climbed aboard the tow truck train and took off. I wondered if someday, some well meaning friend would ever say that about me.

The kindly policeman came over. “Well, that’s about all we can do here tonight, ma’am.”

I thanked him and added, “Well, when you leave maybe you could head the way that guy ran, THHHHennnn maybe just maybe at the traffic light, a dark figure moving in the bushes will catch your eye and you can quick quick turn that way and see the drug dealer and force him up the hill right there and he’ll get tired running up that hill and will head over to the grass where he’ll slide down because it is still covered with ice and then you’ll catch him.”

My comment or suggestion caught him off guard and he hesitated. Then he replied, “ORRRRRRRRRRRR an 18 wheeler will come by as he’s crossing the street and run over him and we won’t have to deal with his ass anymore.” His words spilled out with ease and I could tell he felt better saying that. The three of us gave him a thumbs’ up and saying Thank you, we went back inside.

My daughter stood with her friend  in my living room looking at me. “Mom, I’m really proud of you.”
"How thoughtful for her to notice" I thought to myself. I thought I was handling the night very well, myself."Really, sweetie?”
“You buttoned up your coat so that no one could see that you, you know, weren’t wearing a bra.”

I looked down at myself. I saw a speed limit aged woman with wild hair, in an ancient nightie, old athletic shoes, furry pants and coat . “Yeah, I didn’t want to run anyone off.”
Both tow trucks drove off, the police continued their pursuit, and the girls went home to sleep after such a long night.I heard the morning paper hit the front door as I went up the stairs for a nap.