February 4

Posted on: February 4, 2013

This past week started out relatively normal, or what passes for normal these days, but it sure didn’t end up that way.

Friday was the third of the food bank days.  Only twelve days since we started, and already things are looking bare and running low.  I try to remind myself that a healthy portion went to the Stone Soup Kitchen, and they are feeding many of the people.  No one is starving, at least not yet.  The first box of food that was forced on me, I took to the Soup Kitchen; the second box, I left with a grateful  Bob and Kathy; this next box I decided to divide between my two neighbors, neither of which I’d seen come in to the food bank, and there’s no record of them doing so.  It was a good excuse to check on them.

John and I donned our snow shoes and loaded the sled with a box filled with half of the supplies, then set out for Doreen’s house to my north.  There were no tracks, not vehicle, not human, not even animal, on the long, sloped driveway; no smoke came from the chimney; no sounds or movement whatsoever.  We got near the raised wooden porch and I called out.  As I stood there, somehow knowing there would be no answer, I remembered the only other time I’d been here.  A few years back Tufts had gone missing for three days, and I was frantically combing the neighborhood for him.  I admired and envied the large wrap-around redwood deck that had a view of both the woods and the wooded drive that crossed our mutual creek, but my arrival was less than welcomed.  I called out a second time; and we waited some more; still no answer, no movement, no sound.

“Now what?” John asked, catching his breath from the strenuous hike back up the hill.

“I think we should try Bobby and Jane, on the other side,” I suggested.  “From the looks of it, Doreen must have left here early on, but I know Bobby has a generator and wood heat.  Chances are good they’re still here.”  John nodded in agreement, and took his turn at pulling the laden sled.

My house sits on ten acres, Doreen’s on twenty acres to the north, and Bobby’s on twenty acres to my south.  The distance between my two bordering neighbors isn’t that great, but it was slow going on snowshoes, and the plow hadn’t been by since the last snowfall.  As we walked past our house, and that’s how I thought of it now: “our” house, it struck me how… lived in it looked: the drive was cleared of snow, there was smoke curling out of the stove pipe chimney, there was evidence of Jacob making snow angels everywhere.  Yes, it looked lived in and… happy.  Little did I realize at the time that that lived in look would almost destroy us.

Bobby’s drive wasn’t as steep as Doreen’s, but it was just as long.  I could see a heat signature waving around the smoke stack, and then heard a dog barking inside.  I stopped and called out.  A curtain parted in the front, and I heard the tell-tale racking of a shot gun.  We just stood very still.

“Bobby!  It’s me, Deborah, from next door.”

“What do you want?” I heard him call, muffled from behind the closed door.

“We’ve just come to check on you and Jane.  I’ve brought some supplies from the town food bank.  Do you need any food?”  I was hoping that would get his attention.  The door cracked open and the barrel of a shot gun jutted out.

“Just leave it there and go.” Bobby demanded.

“No, Bobby, I won’t do that.  We’ve been neighbors for eight years; you should know by now I would do you no harm.  I just want to talk to both of you for a few minutes, that’s all.”  The door shut; in the stillness of our solitude, I could hear a chain scraping, and the door opened wider.  “May we come closer?”  I asked.

“Are you armed?” he asked.

“Of course we are, Bobby, you know better than that,” I chuckled.  “But you still have nothing to worry about from us.” He didn’t move, didn’t answer. “Do you want this food or not?  I can take it back to the food bank if you don’t, and we won’t bother you and Jane again.”  We kept our hands visible, and soon he lowered the shotgun.  We walked closer and stopped maybe fifteen feet from the house.  The smell kept me from going any further.  Unwashed bodies; cigarette smoke; and dog: wet dog, dog crap, dog piss.  I tried not to react to the stench.

I turned my back to him, facing John and the sled. “Stay here,” I whispered as I reached for the box.  It was light, but full.  I maneuvered on my snowshoes to face Bobby again, took a deep breath and ventured a few more steps to set the box down.  As I stood, that’s when I noticed the Ham tower behind the house.

“Bobby………………, do you have a Ham radio?” I was almost breathless with hope.

<to be continued>

6 thoughts on “February 4

  1. I wonder why you have not posted anything under ‘The survival mate” since Sept of last year. Have you found your mate? Still looking? Was just wondering. Also nothing has been posted here by you since Feb. Is everything alright or are there problems. I know lately there have been sever weather problems and was just wondering.

  2. All right – that comment about “lived in look would almost destroy us” has got me on the edge of my seat! Be safe, story-book Deborah!!!!!!

  3. uffdah! I WISH very much that Deborah-in-the-story had first checked the List to see if Bobby was one of the ones needing certain meds ! …well… I guess I’ll just have to hold my breath waiting for “the rest of the story”…

  4. This will probably be a terribly stupid question, but how often do you have to clean the chimney during the winter? In regards to stove pipe, does size matter, lol?

  5. I would have a hard time not reacting to the smells story Deborah was smelling.. ewww!! Hopefully, he has a working HAM radio that can be of some use to the town!

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