The Stories

Shock the Monkey – Part 7: Incubating Buses and Faded Angels


Click here to read this story from the beginning.

Brief Re-Cap: Annoyed by the loss of our TV signal due to an alarming snowstorm, I have just dashed out the back door, intent on some vague form of resolution…


  I’m only on the back patio for roughly two seconds before Partner bustles out the door after me. I have been spewing crazy talk about trying to fix the satellite dish so we can watch “Survivor”, and his preservation instincts have kicked in. I am about to mess with something that involves the intricate network of electronics in this house, and he knows better than to let me run around unsupervised.

  Partner grabs the broom that we keep outside to clean up after our exuberant parties wherein drunken people break things (which is why we try to restrict our friends to the patio area, whenever possible), and then he starts marching toward the back of the house. I scamper along behind him, pleased that he appears to be joining my crusade, but really not sure what his intentions might be. He can be shifty sometimes.

  As we enter the yard proper, I’m stunned to realize that we are actually trudging through snow that is over a foot deep. (This is going to be all over the late evening news. This mess might even knock the Dallas Cowboys out of their perpetual presence as the lead story. But probably not. The Cowboys will still be the feature, showing the quarterback looking all sad as he gazes out his designer window, despondent because he can’t practice outside. The fans will set up a GoFundMe account to support him in his time of emotional need, with millions being diverted from the homeless to someone who already has millions.)

As we stagger along, Partner barks out for me to grab the ladder we carelessly left leaning against the back of the house the last time we had to get on the roof. (Long story, we’ll save it for another time.) I grab the indicated item, and I attempt to carry it with me. This plan of action doesn’t last very long. It’s hard enough just trying to keep myself upright and mobile as we fight our way through the dense snow. Throw in a big-ass ladder, and my efforts are doomed. Within a few steps I am just dragging the damn thing behind me.

  But the odd, plunging crunches of our feet navigating the yard brings on certain memories. Dallas may have never seen this much snow, but Tulsa certainly has, and suddenly I’m back in my formative years in my hometown. We got serious snow back in that day.

  As kids, we worshipped snowy weather, and the thrilling potential that school might be closed for the next day or two. (Or an entire week; we certainly went there a few times.) Us younguns would huddle around the TV at night, excitedly watching the news that we normally avoided at all costs, hoping that one of the oddly-groomed newscasters would announce the shut-down of our school district. As soon as our town name scrolled across the screen, we would erupt into spasms of glorious pleasure, and our parents would quietly uncap the vodka, knowing it would take even longer to get our asses in bed that night.

  Of course, sometimes the school boards and the news media would toy with us, not making the announcement until early the next morning. At those times, we would all be out of bed hours before we normally rose, glued to the TV and the delicious anticipation, promising all known gods that we would serve them duly for a chance bit of freedom.

  Once the closure was officially sanctioned, we would race around in a mad frenzy, planning all of the exciting things we could do on a day where no one would be asking us to spell words or try to multiply figures. Whilst our slightly-hungover parents were sliding their way off to mysterious places of employment where vicious rulers did not grant them free days, we had the complete and total run of the neighborhood.

  School buses might not be able to roll more than a few feet before becoming lodged in menacing snowdrifts, but any child worth a hoot could manage to traverse miles of packed snow and join up with kindred children looking for adventure. If our parents had only known half of the mischief we got into when school was closed, they would have begged the school board to run the buses anyway. Even if we ended up incubating in a ditch somewhere, at least there was an authority figure involved.

  Flash back to the present.

  I’ve come to a halt in the frozen tundra of the backyard, with the behemoth ladder stretching out behind me, neglected at the moment as I reminisce. There’s a slight tendril of drool dripping from my chin and then freezing in the arctic air, as I remember the glorious enchantment of Snow Days Gone By.

  Partner breaks my reverie. “Could you maybe bring the ladder over here, where I’m standing? Because I need it. Over here. Not over there. Where apparently you and the ghost of an afro-haired Barbra Streisand are singing a duet about memories being the corners of your mind.”

  I shake it off, tromp a few feet forward, hoist the ladder, and then unfold it below the chimney where our satellite dish is located. I rock the ladder back and forth to work the feet into the snow, then motion that Sarcasmo can now climb the steps to Heaven. And perhaps he could consider staying up there, where his wit is less intrusive.

  Partner clambers onto the ladder, dragging along the broom as he ascends into the still-falling snow. I grip the ladder and try to hold it in place as he climbs past that intriguing demarcation line on the apparatus that says “do not step higher than this or you will die.”

  Partner, precariously perched on the forbidden upper steps of the ladder, pulls the broom up and begins whacking away at the deep layer of snow encrusted on the dish. Immediately, gallons of icy crystals are pelting me at the base of the ladder. I don’t say a word. Why complain about wetness when you have been wet for the better part of four hours? And not in a good way. (Besides, a dim section of my brain is vaguely aware that he’s doing this for me, and I’d best save the commentary for a more appropriate moment. Like this post.)

  Partner, after a bit: “Did I get it all?”

  I bite my tongue, again. How the hell do you expect me to know? You’re the one that’s up there. I’m the one down here trying to keep us from toppling into what’s left of our expensive, pre-snow landscaping shrubbery that will not welcome our tumbling arrival with any degree of proper etiquette. But I tilt my head back anyway, and I get whacked in the face repeatedly by chunks of ice as Partner continues to bang at the chimney like Dick van Dyke in the Siberian version of “Mary Poppins”.

  Did I really go to college for this?

  Eventually, with what’s left of my tattered vision, I can see that the dish is relatively clear. “You’re good,” I pronounce. “I think you got it.”

  “All of it?”

  “Well, there’s still a little bit of snow on the left but-”

  “Where? Where is there still snow?”

  Why the hell did I even mention the smidge of snow? It can’t be causing any problems, as it’s just a tiny little crusty bit. When will I learn to just let things be? So I lie. “Looks perfect. Totally clean.”

  Partner works his way down the ladder, leaps off, and then marches toward the patio. I fold up the ladder and tag along. Halfway to the patio door, I notice a very enticing, unblemished section of frozen, powdery temptation. It would be a perfect place to make a snow angel.

  And back I go again, to a simpler age, when your sole focus was creating a temporary, fragile angel that only briefly left its mark before forces you can’t control took that away. When things were innocent, before the baggage of time, and the drudgery, chiseled away at the base of innocent, inspired creation.

  Partner on the patio, stamping his feet: “Are you coming?”

  “Yep. Be right there.“ I said a quiet, reluctant goodbye to the pure patch of undisturbed whiteness. Miss you, old friend, Mr. Snow. Whatever happened? When did I lose the joy of the possibilities?

  I lean the folded ladder against the back of the house, where it’s probably going to remain for even more months until we get around to putting it in its proper place. This is one of those prices you pay when getting older. You learn to ration, when appropriate, instead of gunning it all out to do everything you can. Some things can wait, and sometimes it’s best that they do so.

  Back in the house, there are cries of triumph upon confirmation that we once again have a TV signal. “Survivor” will be starting in just a few minutes, so I race to change clothes and grab my trusty clipboard so that I can take cryptic notes for the eventual blog entry. This is serious business with me, and I must be prepared.

  As we peruse the latest episode filled with conniving people doing questionable things, the snow continues to deepen outside.

  Hours later, as I’m hunched over my laptop and working on the blog, trying to be creative and entertaining even though it’s late and I’m getting tired, there’s a sudden odd noise from somewhere at the other end of the house. I can’t even begin to envision what might make a sound like that, because I’ve never heard anything quite like it.

  The next sound is much more familiar, as Partner slides open the patio door and marches out to investigate. Good. He’ll let me know if I should be concerned. I continue typing, unaware that I am living the last relaxing moments I will have in this dwelling for the next several days.

  Partner stomps back into the house and down the hallway to the office. “You need to see this.”

  “Why? What is it?”

  “Just come look.” He turns and walks away.

  I hastily throw on shoes and a jacket, then catch up with him outside as he’s crunching across the backyard. Then he stops and just points.

  A massive, multi-limbed chunk of one of the neighbor’s trees has fallen on the power and utility lines between the alley pole and our house. The force of the impact has caused the wires to rip sizable pieces of trim off the back of the house, which in turn caused the demarcation boxes for the phone and the broadband cable to break lose. They are now dangling in the wind, barely attached.

  More importantly, and more disturbingly, the power line itself has taken a severe hit. That metal pipe where the power goes down into your roof? It’s no longer standing straight up. It’s been slammed on its side and is extending off the back of the house, the mangled base of the pipe somehow still clinging to the roof. This is SO not good.

  Partner plays a flashlight over the fallen section of tree. This thing is huge. But even with all that weight, the power lines are not actually touching the ground yet. Instead, they are creaking in the snowy night with what must be an incredible amount of pressure.

  How the hell do we even have power? We should be in the dark.

  I glance at the pristine section of snow where, a few hours ago, I had reflected on memories of distant childhood thrills, the fun you could have in the white. So, it’s come to this, has it, Mr. Snow? I gave you all those angels, and now you are trying to destroy my house and possibly burn down the neighborhood. We need to talk.


Click here to read the next installment in this series.

27 replies »

    • I’ve never really considered it, but I would probably have an advantage in that people like to talk to me (which I’ve always found odd, as I’m generally not a fan of most people, truth be told), often to the point of over-sharing. And in a game like “Survivor”, knowledge is power… 😉

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    • With the way my luck went that fateful week, even if I had TRIED to arrange an illicit transaction, the drug dealer would have been felled by another falling tree, with his merchandise scattered across the snow, making things dissatisfying and indiscernible… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  1. hahahahahaha – it just keeps getting worse! I thought he took the broom out to knock you down with it to keep you from climbing up on the roof, which could lead to an early demise

    Liked by 1 person

    • It would not have surprised me if Partner had just taken me out in the backyard. I tend to get a little overdramatic about things (have you noticed?) and one reaches a point where enough is enough… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel very old now. See I recall sitting in a classroom watching the snow falling, wanting so badly to be out there instead if inside. Watching snow, paying no mind to anything the teacher may have been attempting to teach as they watched the clock begging for eleven am to arrive so they could dispatch us out and away. If we made it to eleven, we wouldn’t have to make up the day. No one seemed to be all that terribly concerned about the buses plowing through the snow on those back country roads back then. And the losing power thing, as a child was yet another adventure. As an adult an extreme inconvenience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I suspect that we’re roughly the same age, give or take a few years, based on your stories that I’ve read. We both have a sense (and wisdom, hopefully) of having lived through a certain time, even if we may have lived it differently…

      And yep, power outages were very exciting as a child, what with the candles and the spookiness and the creative improvisation it took to entertain ourselves. Good times…

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      • Good times indeed. It is fun to look back and see it from a different perspective. Part of me still saw them as adventures right up until Hurricane Hugo came through and left us without power for a week. I had an eight month old infant to take care of who obviously had no understanding of why it took so long to get a bottle. Thankfully I had splurged and purchased a gas grill for my husband for Father’s Day. So we did have that. It did however ruin a good bit of the adventure in power outages.
        And that certain time, yeah, that was special. I am so glad that my niece built a house here and her two are able to live a somewhat similar life as we did. That way they can look back and remember good times.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. There are references to powder all along the comment route today. The stuff you got out there in formerly hot to temperate sometimes land was ‘wet’ snow. At least, so it sounds. Maybe with just a touch of frozen ice snow courtesy of the tundra, where they are probably sick of that stuff. That tree thing would have had me shrieking in abject terror, and the little men in white coats would have to be dispatched to come to take me away haha! If they could make it through the foot or so of nasty wet icy snow. I remember with fondness the snow angels of yesteryear. I understand your brief longing for a return to those simpler times when falling into the snow didn’t mean potential broken bones and the cost of a crane to get a person upright again. I might have a bit of powdered snow in my eye too (even though the thermometer is edging up into hellish hot and it’s only 8:30 a.m. (damn 😡 ) because things are a bit rosy-colored right now. I suspect I don’t miss snow as much as my nostalgia for it would indicate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The snow IS different, depending on where you are. Even though Tulsa and Dallas are only 250ish miles apart, the white stuff varies considerably. My memories of home involve mostly snow, only sometimes accompanied by ice. In Dallas, there’s more ice than snow. And driving on packed snow is a far cry (at least for me) than driving on packed ice…

      Yes, the sight of the fallen tree nearly sent me over the edge. I have a constant fear of those damn trees falling, as it is and regardless of the weather, because most of them are so big that they could do incredible damage if they land just right…

      Your last line is just right. I’m sure my memories have softened things a bit. But even now, if I don’t have to get out of the house and it’s JUST snow, I can watch if fall outside the window for hours…

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  4. How times change. Snow closures don’t exist any more thanks to the internet and because of environmental damage, your weather is starting to become as wintery and churlish as mine is in the full throes of a Northwest Territories’ January. Yikes.
    And, I’m waiting with bated frozen breath for the next installment. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good point. “Kids these days”, to overuse a phrase, really aren’t familiar with the “snow days” of yore, when everything completely shut down. To be fair, there are many rural areas where the technology is not quite as supportive as others, limiting what can and cannot be done from home. But still, different world.

      Our weather is definitely becoming more churlish, with increasing intensity. Right now, we’re in the midst of a heatwave, the likes of which we don’t normally see until July. There’s a rocky road in all of our futures…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh my Lucy! This whole sorded tale reminds me of my “weekend from hell.” It all started one bright sunny day overlooking the green, green grass of Kentucky….no wait. That’s not how it went. I drove to my sisters’ house, which was about two and a half hours away. Got there, and we went shopping. While we were in the store, an announcement was made…”will the owner of a black BMW come to the front.” Someone had hit her car…but they were nice enough (or afraid of the ever-present cameras) to come forward. The damage was minimal and didn’t deter our stead-fastness in finding the best fat quarters available. When we went back to her house, her boyfriend came walking in the house, looked at me and said, “well, I just hit your car.” WHAT? I thought he was joking but he wasn’t. Took the side mirror off and left a nice gouge all the way down the side.
    Okay, made it through the weekend and was headed back home. A semi flung a rock up, and shattered my windshield. Someone please…give me a pill.
    I finally made it home and decided to take my frustration out on the shrubs in front of my house. Kitten was circling my legs and I kept telling her to go away. She didn’t and snip….I cut the end of her tail off. Okay…just shoot me now.
    I doctored her tail and of course, being me…kept the end. I thought about putting it on Craigslist…”piece of tail for sale,” just to see what kind of response I’d get…but I didn’t.
    Those trees. I was heading upstairs one afternoon, and I just glanced out of my door, and saw all this greenery. I remember thinking that I didn’t remember seeing it before. I opened the door, and half of my Bartlett pear tree had fallen across the entire yard…about fifty feet. (That’s how I learned to use a chainsaw.)
    Anyway…carry on. I can’t wait to read the rest.
    Carry on…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, now THAT’S one humdinger of a story, with one thing after another. The only good thing about crap happening in rapid-fire succession is that after the third or fourth round, it becomes so ridiculous that the only thing you can do is laugh. (Well, you can cry, too, but laughing is much more useful in the end.) Poor Kitten.

      As for your Bartlett pear tree falling across the yard, I have a companion story wherein another massive tree at Bonnywood decided to give it all up and fall on the house. Okay, just PART of it fell. But that part was bigger than some small towns in America. I need to dig that mess out of the archives and share again…

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