Explanatory Note: This is the first installment of a multi-part saga I scribbled many years ago. I don’t think I’ve ever shared any of this increasingly-twisted tale on Bonnywood, but I may be mistaken. In any case, enjoy…
So, we woke up on a Thursday, startled to discover that the morning light creeping in the windows was far brighter than it should have been. First of all, I’m not a morning person, so the mere intrusion of the light was bad enough. I’m never mentally prepared for this daily slap in the face. But when the slap has an extra helping of retina-piercing whiteness, you know something is wrong with the world.
I lay there in the bed, refusing to move or accept the fact that it was time to get up. I would have willingly promised anything to anyone for just five more minutes of slumber. Anything. And considering the number of eye-opening things I’ve done in my life, this is a really big bucket of anything.
Just above said bed is a very wide but not very tall window. I’m sure this particular window design has some type of name, but I don’t know what that term might be. (I dropped out of the one interior design course I took in college because I could not bear the thought of the professor sporting yet another one of his wretched sweater vests. They were horrid, and I am absolutely certain he never had sex with anyone, ever.)
What I do know is that it’s difficult as hell to find curtains to fit this opening. Over the years, we’ve had to be very creative in our choice of window treatment options. Some ideas are okay, others have failed miserably. Even with my usually-trustworthy gay genes, I have not satisfactorily conquered this damn portal to the world in an artistic manner. I thought the window was clever and fetching when I bought the house. I stopped thinking that a long time ago.
I also know that our cat, Scotch, is fascinated with this window and lives for the act of jumping up on the windowsill at the crack of dawn, and then pulling the curtain back so that even more light spills onto my hissing, non-impressed body. (I’m totally in agreement with vampires on this bit of business. Daylight kills. The neck-chewing? Not so much.) On this particular morning, Scotch was especially exuberant in his ritual, ripping the curtain as far open as he could, flooding the room with white light.
That oddly-bright light. What was up with THAT?
I sighed. Then I made the painful flop and roll to my left so that I could look at the alarm clock. I always perform this action while praying to any listening deity that I had somehow awakened early, and I could therefore pass back out for at least a few more minutes. Most of the time, of course, my dreams are shattered. In fact, I’m usually already way late (having beaten the snooze button into submission) and I have to scramble, tearing through the house in a mad frenzy.
But this morning, I had time to spare. In fact, it was considerably early, miles to go before I weep about rejoining the human race. So where was all the extra whiteness coming from? And why was I being forced to think about color-saturation (or the lack of) before I’d even had coffee? This was cruel and vicious, and I was not a fan.
I finally throw back the blankets and stagger out of bed. As is typical, Scotch has leapt down from the windowsill and is now perched by the side of the bed, awaiting praise for his skillful manipulation of the weird-window curtain. As is also typical, I’m not yet to the point of complete body control (and after a certain age, you never are), and one of my renegade feet stomps squarely on his tail. Screeching ensues, followed by a feline thunder-run to the other end of the house, trailed by hissed epithets and rogue cat hair in the air.
Why do cats do that? Why do they get right up under your feet, positioning themselves in the exact spot where the possibility of pain is at its prime? I don’t get that. You would think, especially after several years of physical and psychological trauma, that a cat would learn certain things, such as “don’t get too close to Daddy when he’s getting out of bed”. But no, he’s right there underfoot, painful stomping occurs, and then we have drama and vengeful retribution that lasts for hours.
[Editorial Advisement: For some unknown reason, I suddenly switched from mostly-past to mostly-present tense with my verbs at this point. If you are someone troubled by such an abrupt transition, please take your favorite sedative or two to minimize the outrage. And maybe a nice margarita, even if it’s early morning, story-wise.]
As Scotch takes out his anger in another room by ripping an innocent throw rug to shreds (“What have I done to deserve this?” the rug asks, flatly), I turn toward the weird window and gaze outside. My eyes widen in surprise as I realize that the front yard is completely covered in snow. What the hell?
This is Texas. We don’t get snow. Okay, we do, but not like everybody else. We get just a mere dusting of the white stuff and the entire state shuts down, with everything cancelled. (Except for football games. You must have football games in Texas. Otherwise, the state will wither up and die, with no valid reason to exist. It’s in our Constitution, sure is.)
So, for me to be viewing a front yard that is completely covered in snow, with no tufts of dead grass showing whatsoever, it’s a clear sign that something major, indeed, is taking place. The world has shifted on its axis. “Holy cow,” I mutter, reverting to an Oklahoma colloquialism because it’s still early and my brain is not fully engaged enough to conceal my past.
Scotch peeks around the corner of the bedroom doorway, his curiosity piqued by my exclamation. Is Daddy proud of my handiwork with the curtain? Did Scotch do good? He slinks into the room, in search of a tasty reward of some kind, just as I am stomping out of the room on the way to my office. As usual, I’m not really paying attention, and once again there is unexpected abuse of his freakishly-long tail, followed by more angry shredding of innocent floor coverings. (“Again with the clawing? Have you considered taking advantage of those special gummy bears from Colorado?”)
I race into the office and sign into my work laptop, an action that I typically avoid as long as possible on a regular day. Once I’m hooked into the buzzing network of the behemoth corporation where I toil, I kick off the chat application and immediately start pinging my co-workers. What’s going on? Who drove into work and who didn’t? How bad is it? Tell me!
My eyes continue to widen as the field reports start filling my screen. Nobody in our group has made it to the office yet, although some are trying. Travel advisories are being posted and the schools might be cancelled. That’s all I need to see. I’m not leaving this house any time soon. I get to work from home today. I’m so happy I could spit. (More Oklahoma, still not fully awake.)
Nothing thrills me more than not having to go into the office. It’s just a beating, having to find something decent to wear, fighting the crazed Dallas traffic for over an hour, and then dealing with certain co-workers that make me want to claw my face. (“Why are you and your idiocy allowed to walk the streets of this planet without supervision? Get out of my cube!”) Besides, it’s a proven fact that I get a lot more work done when I’m still in my pajamas.
So now I’m actually in a good mood, dancing around the house as I put on the coffee and searching for a few nibbly things to munch on (working from home means you get to snack all day, another bonus). I praise the fat, wet flakes falling from the sky, thanking them for this lovely gift of non-travel.
Then my partner walks into the room, looking very sad and requiring my attention. (It briefly crosses my mind to wonder where he has been throughout the first part of our story, but I’m really not all that invested.) He has a frowny face, because he still has to drive into the office, as his company believes you must be visible to be productive. I discreetly turn my happy dance into something less-obnoxious (“I had a cramp and was trying to shake it out, swear”) and I offer my sympathies. I know better than to make a big deal out of my less-restrictive work structure, because this will only lead to tension and turmoil in the relationship, and that’s a speed bump I’d rather drive around, if at all possible.
After some supportive commentary and counseling, we eventually get him bundled up and headed out into the snowfall. As soon as I can no longer see his car through the thick curtain of flakes showering the road, I’m once again running all over the house, belting out 70’s songs while sliding across the wood floors in my socks. Scotch the cat wisely remains hidden during these festivities, because my dangerous feet are moving too quickly for proper tail management and protection. He’s a bit simple, but he does have a rudimentary survival instinct.
And thus goes the day, with me being amazingly productive simply because I’m not sitting in a cubicle and exuding an attitude about having to sit in a cubicle. From time to time, I stand at one of the windows (not the damn skinny window, mind you) and I admire the snowfall. When you don’t have to be out in it, snow is really pretty, albeit a bit monochromatic.
Then, around noon, I start to get a little concerned about this pretty snow. Because it’s not stopping. It hasn’t stopped for hours. There’s already a good four or five inches on the back patio table. If anything, it’s snowing even harder. Something’s not right. It never snows this much in Dallas.
I call Partner in his office, wherein, presumably, security cameras are tracking his physical presence and thusly authorizing he gets a paycheck . “What’s going on, what are you hearing, how are the roads, have you seen the weather reports, where’d you put that new Madonna CD?”
Partner patiently waits for me to take a breath, then: “It’s getting bad. The roads were okay when I drove in, it wasn’t sticking yet, but now it is.”
I glance out one of the front windows to confirm this. It’s doing more than just sticking to the road. You can’t really even tell where the road might be. “I think I better go to the grocery store.”
Partner’s not sure why this is necessary. “I just went to the grocery store. We shouldn’t need anything.”
“We need to stock up. What if we get trapped here for a while? What if we can‘t go anywhere? How will we survive without food?” (Nothing’s ever medium-range with me. It’s either complete boredom or mass hysteria.)
Partner sighs. “But we HAVE food. And this isn’t a blizzard. This is not ‘Little House on the Prairie’ where Pa has to save the cows.”
As usual, I’m not really listening to him, instead rummaging through the pantry and the refrigerator, checking the inventory. “There’s got to be something we need. Oh my GOD! We only have half a jar of mayo. See?”
He grudgingly remembers something else. “Oh, and onions. We need onions for the pot of beans I was going to put on.” (Pot of beans? Who’s referencing “Little House on the Prairie” now? But I hold my tongue, after biting it.) Then he gets more into the spirit of things, once the purchase of consumable goods has become more palatable to him. (Food shopping is fun! Even when it’s somewhat pointless. In actuality, we have enough food around the house to last until summer.) “And if I take a personal day tomorrow, I could make us a big ole breakfast. Grab some eggs and sausage, too.”
Well, that simply settles it. If you need eggs, you must do something about it. I am officially on a mission. I’d best get going.
Stupidly, instead of immediately running out the back door to help Pa with the cows and chickens, I check the work laptop and discover that the chat application is lit up like brake lights during rush-hour traffic, with every one of my contacts flashing red. Not a good sign. I quickly realize that a major, impromptu conference call is going on, one that has been deemed important enough that some critical participant is going to make judgmental notes about my possible non-participation.
Conference calls make me insane, especially calls where some High Priestess has deemed that every department in the company must be represented, even if your organization has nothing to do with the issue at hand. These things take forever. The roll-call alone is at least thirty minutes as people deal with unfamiliar mute buttons, dying cell phones and the inevitable twit who lets his dog bark in the background throughout the entire call.
Turns out, as it usually does with such things, that 97% of the people invited to the call were not needed for the issue, will never be needed for the issue, and the hours-long black hole created by the non-need for the massive conference call has caused every department in the company to fall behind in their daily commitment to customers. America doesn’t need to worry about foreign countries taking away their business. They need to worry about inept Americans not knowing how to run a company.
By the time I finally escape from that crap, it’s three in the afternoon. The patio table snow gauge is showing at least seven inches, and the still-falling flakes are bigger than ever. This is insane. I ping my work peeps that I need to hit the store real quick, I’ll be right back. Then I run jump in the car.
Little did I know that the doors of hell had just creaked open…
Click here to read the next installment in this travesty…
Previously published, considerable changes made. I realize this might seem a rather benign opening, with not much of substance happening, but the setup is necessary for what follows. Just stay tuned to this channel and make sure you have enough eggs for breakfast…
Categories: The Stories