Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Aint No Pain Like My Baby's Pain



The dogs! The damn dogs are gonna drive me insane! It's four in the morning, doesn't that freakin' new dog ever sleep? On and on and on like a pile driver, and every five minutes the other dogs get pissed and shout at him to shuttup! How the hell did I end up in this position; man if it wasn't for bad luck....

I was up; there was no point in trying to get back to sleep now, I may as well see if another bomb has gone off somewhere. I stepped into the hall and gingerly closed the door so my wife wouldn't wake and complicate matters. After seven years in this house you'd think I'd know the brass handles squeal like hawks at lunchtime, but I forgot and turned it to avoid the little click that would happen if I hadn't. Nice ploy; now after the howl of metal on degreased metal Linda was up and off to the bathroom. My last hope was that the dogs would fall over dead suddenly, leaving crickets and the occasional catbird yowl as the only sounds to break the pre-dawn countrified silence.

I limped through the living room and slid open the door to our deck, stepping onto a cold, weathered cedar plank with a bare, arthritic foot. In or out, in or out I thought as the bugs found my giant infrared target too appealing and began to pluck away at my tender skin, while more adventurous insects blew past me and into the dark hole beyond the door. I decided to step out as if to walk to my neighbors and give the mutts a proper tongue lashing, though we all knew I wasn't going anywhere in my jockeys alone.

On cue, the adolescent furball suddenly stopped and all was quiet for the moment. I stayed still and concentrated all my manly powers into one sense, craning to hear so much as shallow breathing that might awaken or otherwise annoy my bride into making my life hell.

Her lack of sleep would only educate her to the wisdom of the ages; that my existence was the obvious fault within an otherwise perfect world. That I wanted to move here, that I didn't go to the county meeting to fight a commercial dog kennel being built next door, that I didn't take care of her sufficiently, that I didn't love her after all, that there was no other reason for her misery but me...well...me and her allergies, but that's another long story.

I slyly pulled a silvered teak chair into my posterior range and set my white cottoned ass into the wooden box. It was odd I thought; likely not many people would awaken at four am and sit on a damp deck in their underwear at all, not to mention unemployed people that had no reason to roll out of bed until noon or better.

But it was 55 degrees and a light breeze was sapping the overnight heat from my aggressive metabolism; it felt great to be alive just then and might not get any better as the day progressed, so I took advantage of my acreage for a half hour while the deer and wooly crawlers rummaged through tall grass in search of breakfast. I nodded off eventually, the rare snort caused by my head rocking backward waking me each time, reminding me that cool was good: hypothermia on the other hand, was to be avoided.

I'd have forgotten the dog nightmare but it was all too convenient, the six of them stopping just as I exited my home under duress. Were I more paranoid than I am I'd have guessed that their owners were with them, taunting us for some unexplained reason by making their hunters howl on command. Yea yea, that's silly so I thought; But Dammit!

No point in obsessing, I made my way into the kitchen while scratching all my new bug bite welts, and switched on the television buried deep into the corner between the spices and the toaster. It's my special spot I guess; the place I watch PBS news while the little woman giggles over reality tripe, and where I view shows like West Wing while she's involved in some Masterpiece Theatre rendition of a Bronte novel.

Why I developed this quirk I have no idea, standing in the corner watching a 13 inch boobtube, leaning against cold Formica while my swollen feet scream invective at me for thinking they're supposed to function. But there I am for hours at a time, sipping unflavored coffee and shaking my head at the transparency of Charlie Rose.

When the news begins with human interest or some self proclaimed expert touting his/her godly advice to the unwashed masses, I pretty well know it's a slow news day, and this morning was deadly. A bowl of cereal and orange later, I'd flipped off the TV without having heard a word and stumbled back to the bedroom for pants.

This time I opted for the click, leaving the shrill squeal for the next time I forgot. Linda was still well "remmed" and I was not about to change her status.

I pulled on my jean shorts and slid a cheap, green, lableless t-shirt over my newly protruding belly. Quitting smoking had dumped 25 pounds into my breadbasket, and nearly everything has become uncomfortable including my ego. No pain no gain I hear, so I suppose I need one cross to bear to replace the other.

Slipping into the garage I watched for the gopher that had somehow found his way in a few times in the last few months. I had to grin at the visual that's been occurring to me lately, a gopher standing on my back door stoop, ear pressed to the thin metal cladding of the door and listening for gossip he might relay to the other rodents that ply their wares in my yard.

No pest in sight I slipped the manual door open and straddled my Venture, intent on riding my way into dawn light on 1300 cc's, digging into corners and flying through gears on my way to nowhere in particular.

I was near 4 hours on the road, only stopping for gasoline and a coffee and Danish; chit chatting with truckers as I sat on the station curb and let my stiffened muscles reacquaint themselves with different positions.

The ride itself was amazing as autumn always is; fields of golden soybeans streaked with emerald green, drying corn still reaching for the spotty clouds that threatened nothing but fair weather, mile after mile of country bumpkins making their way to the city jobs that have replaced farming for all but the chosen few.

The sky is newly azure, its color more rich than even the sea (or at least so I'm told by sea lovers). At this time of year the sun never truly lights up, as if the air itself is heavy or dirty or opaque and not able to let any but the dimmest rays illuminate the earth. It's a blessing on my eyes; as one who wears shades indoors here and there I thank the planet for having the kindness to give me a few months off. The squint of summer, spring and winter only makes me look more mean than I already do, but every autumn I become soft and fuzzy as my face regains its rightful calm.

It wasn't until I'd made my way home that life began to crank up. Linda'd had a flat tire, had reinflated it and was off to the repair shop, noticeably cranky about her plight. I decided to follow her after writing a few checks and filling a few payment envelopes. May as well kill two birds so I thought, since the closest mailbox is 8 miles off.

She was waiting for me outdoors, a bit miffed that I'd taken so long but complacent at least about being able to escape the drudgery of waiting for auto news ad nauseum. Right away she started gathering black clouds, saying this was the fourth time she'd had to repair these tires, speculating that some new and more expensive estimate was sure to greet her upon our return, complaining that I didn't have as many tire problems as she and we drove the same roads blah blah blah.

She hopped on as I'd luckily remembered to bring her helmet, and off we went to inspect a local horticultural nursery for end of season discounts. Mentally marking a few items for a sale taking place this Saturday, we strolled through the rows of sedum and spirea, shade trees and fake Italian pottery until we both began to overheat in the afternoon sun.

We need toilet bowl cleaner, she said as we mounted up for the return trip. I argued that my poor motorcycle would never understand being a mule for a product remotely related to human waste, that she might revolt and refuse to start once I'd loaded the offending item into her ample saddlebags. But Linda was not to be amused no matter how absurd I became, her mood was foul and I was trapped into being her silent, agreeable consort and chauffer.

To the post office we rolled, leaping off to snatch the bills I'd paid from my trunk and zipping them into the mailbox all the while hoping I'd read the dates right and all was timely. Then, Target suffered my kickstand as the weight of my bike and the heat of the day combined to sink the metal appendage into the tarmac a few inches, while we dug up a bottle of potty gel.

That was enough time for any mechanic to have rewired her truck much less fix a puncture, so we rode back to the tire specialist where I dropped her at the door and waited for news. Perhaps 5 minutes later my lovely wife appeared, the resolute anger apparent in her face as she strode to my side.

"They didn't find a problem" she said, signifying they'd not fixed anything in the 2 hours we'd screwed off. "But, they told me that my tread is thin and all my tires really need replacing".

That was the death knell of the day. I knew she was thinking, I could see the engine churn. They'd seen her coming, a woman alone with car troubles, and they'd created a pitch to get her to spend 300 dollars rather than the 20 she'd intended. At least that was her supposition and to argue is only to make myself the enemy of our partnership, our "superteam" as she likes to call it when she's being playful and sweet.

She had them remount the tire and drop the car, paid nothing and set out for home, fuming all the way. Luckily she stopped at a local candy factory where I could ditch her, beat her home by a half hour and set myself up in my writing studio before she got home and started harrumphing at me.

It's been successful so far, I've been writing this ever since. But she pulled out the mower and slashed and burned her way through the front yard while I sat here, and then joined me for a sullen watch of the local news. The air was screaming tension, but I held my breath until I turned blue hoping to not inadvertently peep a word from my all too blabby lips, and she finally decided on something to punish that would be easier to flog than I.

It's been an hour since she left; I hope she's not outside with the whip waiting for me to finish this drivel. Maybe if I jog to the house I can escape her wrath. Sorry....gotta run.....may not have another window of opportunity....wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Ahh shit, the dogs are barkin again; it's a freakin conspiracy, I just know it.

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