By Cindy and Walt
I awoke Saturday morning feeling better than the day before. I planned to go as long as possible without the pain pills. I had found that it took about a half hour for the pills to enter my system and start giving me relief from the pain. I knew that there was no instant relief. However the pain was only sharp, if I made sudden and almost violent moves. If I kept my movements slow and thoughtful, I did pretty well on the reduced dosages.
I really wanted to exercise, but I didn’t feel like I could manage the pain yet. I did pretty well driving so I decided to drive on the Interstate to the College Hill exit. There was a Regional Mall there. I had never been inside, but it might be a good move. I could do some window shopping and walk some. Since I knew no one in College Hill, it stood to reason no one would know me at the mall. If no one knew me, I wouldn’t be asked how I was doing and all that nonsense.
I took a shower, dressed for the day, then made sure all the fires were on their safest settings. I took my pain pill before I entered the car for the short drive to College Hill. Short is a relative term. It was a half hour drive at seventy miles an hour. On my bicycle it would have been a three hour drive or more since I couldn’t use the direct Interstate route.
I wondered to myself why I had said my bicycle. That bicycle was in some junkyard at the moment never to see the highway again. I parked the pickup at the food court entrance, which was about the only thing open so early in the morning. None of the vendors in the court were open, just the door into the mall. I saw several old people sitting at the table with brown Styrofoam cups of coffee. I might have asked where they got them had the cups not been inscribed with the legend, ‘Cinnamon Heaven’.
I walked through the food court feeling the pill kick in. My coordination suffered a little with the full Vicodin, but I didn’t feel any pain from the walking. Walking was good exercise I had been told, but it was hell on those ribs. Every step was a jolt. At first the steps wasn’t too bad, but the cumulative effect was pretty painful.
I made it to the ‘Cinnamon Heaven’ bake shop without screaming, so I thought the walk was a success. I chose to skip the instant calories, but I went for the Amaretto Coffee. It was different. It was not as much to my liking as Helen’s Cell Block Six coffee, but it was different.
I struggled back to the food court and sat down with the coffee cup. I looked across at the old men and felt something like admiration for them. I wasn’t sure what their stories were, but they seemed to be engaged in life. At least they weren’t sitting home waiting to die. Of course maybe the mall food court was hell’s waiting room, and I had found my way to the right place after all. When I finished my coffee I felt I had walked far enough so I returned to my car.
When I got home, I entered into the warm house and felt like I had really found my way to where I belonged. I looked around trying to burn the image of my home into my mind. It was after 9 AM and I was hungry for something that didn’t come from a box, so I drove to Helen’s Crossroads Diner.
When I entered the place was standing room only. Not only that there was a couple ahead of me. He was dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, but she was dressed in a cocktail dress. It was also wrinkled. Damn lucky girl, I thought.
It took only a few minutes for the first table to clear out. “Would you like to share a table?” the guy asked. The girl gave him a look that could have frozen the whole Miami Beach scene.
“No thanks,” I said without explaining further. I didn’t even get a thank you smile from his date.
I got a seat at the counter next to a couple of linemen. I nodded when I sat down. There was no special on weekends, but that was okay. I wasn’t in the place to save money. That being the case I ordered the same breakfast and paid a dollar and a half more since the coffee wasn’t included.
The guys in the orange vest tried to engage me in conversation, but I really had other things on my mind. I had the confrontation with Jose to endure and plans for the salvage business to layout. It was going to be a busy weekend, even if I didn’t leave the house again.
I was at home by the fire when Jose returned my call. “You need to come by here this weekend. I have some work that needs doing. Taking the ashes to the back of the property and bringing in firewood,” I said.
“Okay, but Joan told me what this is about,” he said.
“Do you really want to have this conversation on the family phone?” I asked.
“No, I will be there in half an hour,” he said.
“Good,” was my only comment.
I continued to read the business plan. I read it all and knew I was going to have to have some building and some demolition equipment. I looked on line to get an idea of the prices for the equipment I would need to get started. When I saw the prices, I decided that maybe rentals were a better way to go, at least for a while.
I decided that after I had the meeting with Jose, I probably needed to have one with Carlos as well. He could probably give me an idea about the minimum equipment to buy, as opposed to what I could rent for a day or two to save a few bucks.
I skipped lunch as was usual for me. So I was sipping on a cup of coffee from the pot which sat on the wood stove. I was told how to keep it from boiling away by an old timer. He told me to go to an appliance repair shop in Roaring Gap and buy a burner from the top of a junked electric stove. Then put it on the stove under the coffee pot. It worked fine but sometimes the coffee was hotter than other times. As the stove burned down, I often had to remove the circular piece of metal from under the pot.
So I was drinking coffee, when I heard the distinctive moped sound in my drive. I opened the rear door for Jose. “So come on in. Do you want to do your work first, or face the music and get it out of the way,” I asked.
“How will you get the work done, if you tell me never to come back,” he said leaning against the wall.
“First of all, you are not negotiating from a position of power. I have a cloth ‘wood sling’ much like the one I am wearing. I load it with split wood and carry it into the house with my good arm. The ashes are in the metal can beside the house. I can shovel some of them into the smaller plastic trashcan on wheels, then roll it to the edge of the gully and tip it over.
I pay you because that isn’t my first choice, but I can manage,” I said building up a head of steam. “So if you don’t want my money, just say so and there will be no hard feelings. One has nothing to do with the other.”
“Okay, let me do my chores before you threaten me again,” he said.
“Fair enough,” I replied.
I drank coffee standing by the window while watching as he wrestled the can of cold ashes to the gully. I would never throw hot ashes into the gully so those were at least two days old. The fire hazard was far too great. I was glad to see he was sweating when he finished. He also filled my wood storage rack before he sat down to take his medicine.
“Okay, I want you to know the consequences of what you have done. You need to know first what you have set in motion. Then we can talk about what is going to happen going forward.
Joan could lose her husband, if he found out about you two. She could lose her job, because of your status as a minor. You could also face some charges for the invasion of my privacy. I understand she might have known you were taking her picture, but I sure as hell didn’t.”
“How do you know I was taking your picture, or Joan’s for that matter?” he asked.
Rather than go though it all, I showed him the pictures. “Someone sent me a CD with the contents of your cell phone.” I went to my desk and removed one of my burners. “You don’t get yours back, but you can have a new one. You can use your pay from today to have it activated. You can get your old number and account.
I don’t speak for Joan, but I’m going to tell you this, if you or any of your friends post those images you shot here of me and Joan, I’m going to rain hell down on you. First of all I’m going to have the SBI take a look at you for stalking me, and for the possession of those unauthorized pictures. While I’m at it I’m going to arrange for INS to take a look at your family’s immigration status. I know that your dad will hate me for it, but you will leave me with no choice. He might not care too much for your stupidity.”
I stopped right there to let that much sink in. After a minute he nodded his head. “I will not call you here to work ever again. If your dad brings you to help him, I will act as if nothing happened. What you and Joan do about your relationship is no concern of mine. Do we understand each other?”
“Yes Senorita Rose. I did not send those pictures of you and Joan to anyone. I would never do that to you. You have been a good friend to me and my family. I did send some of the sexy ones, but you were completely dressed in those,” he said.
“Make sure, if they are on the net, that they come down,” I said. He didn’t need to know that I did not want anyone to recognize me, and then to come looking for me. I gave him a twenty dollar bill and sent him on his way. I was sure I had seen a sign advertising phone activation for fifteen dollars.
When he left it was well after noon, so I lay down for a nap. When I awoke three hours later I felt really good. Except that I needed to brush my teeth. Once I did that, I felt really good. I took the pill not because I was in constant pain, but because it allowed me to do more while keeping the pain at a manageable level. Pain had been a dominant force in my life for sometime.
Carlos stopped by to make sure Jose had done a good job, so I forced him into a quick conversation about the salvage business.
“Senorita you would need a place to store the material and a way to transport the material to the storage area,” he said.
“Okay I can see that, I have four acres beside this place. If we leave the trees along the road to hide the rest, we should be able to store things in there,” I suggested. “Maybe use the old garden spot behind the house.”
“I could bring the goat over and put her to work back there clearing it. There is the old car path back there so we could improve it. But are you sure you want to do this. It will not be cheap,” Carlos said.
“Nothing any fun is ever cheap,” I said. “With the exception of me,” I smiled. Carlos either didn’t get it, or didn’t think it was funny.
“Would you contract the labor, or work for me when you do not have a better paying job,” I asked.
“I will work a full eight hour day for you, for one hundred dollars per day cash,” he said.
“Can you speak to Juan for me. We will need some help I imagine,” I said.
“Find the project and I will find the men to do it the most efficient way. I would like this to succeed because it would give work for the winter months as well as the summer,” Carlos said.
He left shortly after we came to the agreement. It was time to go for pizza, if that was what I wanted for dinner. I had found a Godfather’s pizza soon after I arrived in the area. The plaza was filled with fast food restaurants. It might be the only pizza restaurant to have survived in the area, but it was fine with me. I didn’t require great variety in my food. Hell it was just pizza. One mediocre Pizza restaurant was fine with me.
When I arrived home I found a note on my door. ‘Rose… let’s do lunch the three of us tomorrow… call me. Jeremy.
I ate the pizza while catching up on more TV shows I had missed. I had gotten hooked on a really strange TV show. Well I would have considered it strange a year before. It was a Tattoo competition. I had no tats, but I was fascinated by the whole thing. They really did some pretty cool work. I supposed that seeing more people with tat in the mainstream media had raised my awareness.
I didn’t want one, but I would date a guy or girl with a tattoo, no problem. I especially liked the so called new school tats, the ones with lots of color and cutesy subjects. Then I also liked the black and gray ones as well. The so called prison tats.
I mention the tats because I watched the whole first half of the competition on one night. I gave up at midnight and went to bed. I had a hard time falling asleep. Frankly my hormones were out of whack. That was my story, and I was sticking to it. After tossing and turning for a half hour I masturbated. After that it took probably ten minutes to fall asleep. I was pretty sure there were at least some other women like me in the world. I doubted many were as open about it, but almost nobody talked about that in public. Masturbation was still a taboo subject.
I woke up once in the middle of the night, so as I passed by the stove on the way to the bathroom, I threw another stick of wood on the banked fire. When I awoke naturally at six, the house was warmer than usual. I still had to stoke the fire, but since it didn’t die completely, I didn’t have to start from square one. I showered, dressed and sat by the fire to warm myself and dry my hair.
At 9 AM I called Jeremy. I spoke to Alice who was the only one awake at their house. Since the night before had been Saturday, I didn’t ask how many were still asleep in the house. “So Alice, Jeremy left me a lunch invitation, do you know what you two had in mind?” I asked.
“Jeremy said you might call. Do you still wake up at 5 AM? Surely you haven’t gone back to riding your bicycle,” Alice was running on.
I had no idea what her problem was but I answered. “The answer to both of those is no.”
“That’s a shame, I hope you are up to it again soon. For lunch we usually have waffles at the International House of Pancakes,” she said.
I hated the IHOP, but I was willing to go along because I wanted to pick Jeremy’s brain. “That would be fine. What time do you think you guys will be ready to go?” I asked’
“Two PM is our usual time on Sundays,” she said.
“That would be just fine, I’ll meet you at that one at the plaza then,” I said.
“Yes the plaza would be fine. We will see you there,” she said and broke the connection.
While I waited for them to get their collective heads out of their asses, I did even more research on the salvage business. It appeared the best way to get started was just to start. Find an old building make an offer on it and then take it down.
Believe it or not most of the old buildings had been previously destroyed, according to my research anyway. I decided that come Monday, I would begin looking for a building to salvage regardless of the outcome of my lunch with Jeremy.
When I dressed for lunch I found that I could use the screwed up arm some. I just had to use it at the height of the sling. I hooked my bra in the front then twisted it around to the back. I worked the straps over my shoulder very carefully. It was too much trouble to fool with it on most occasions, but lunch with Jeremy and Alice was a big deal, I decided.
I met them on time. I was wearing a scoop necked red knit top with a bra, rather than the white thermal tee shirt under a sweatshirt. For me, at that time, I was really dressed up.
“So you look like you are doing much better,” Jeremy said. “Doesn’t she Alice?”
“Absolutely,” Alice agreed with a warm smile.
I felt a lot like what a turkey must feel on thanksgiving. “I do feel a lot better. I also am taking a lot fewer drugs,” I said.
“Good for you,” Jeremy said.
At that point the food arrived. The fruity waffle was just adequate. I wasn’t disappointed because it always was just adequate. “So Jeremy what’s the word on your land,” I asked.
“We are working on a compromise the owner and I,” Jeremy said.
“So the deal isn’t done yet,” I asked.
“No but I know where there is a Church you can buy. It is on a lot just a couple of miles from Helen’s Diner.”
“Oh really, what is the deal?” I asked.
“You buy the Church for five thousand dollars. It’s a real deal because you have to agree to demolish the building, which you want to do anyway. The congregation couldn’t get anyone to guarantee that it would be used as a church, so now they are going with a requirement that it be demolished. The old people are afraid that it will be used as a night club or something. “That was the rumor going around.” He said it with a smile which made me wonder, if Jeremy wasn’t the source of the rumor.
“Is there a cemetery?” I asked.
“No, if there had been they would never leave the place,” Jeremy said.
“So I get the building material, what do I do with the land?” I asked.
“I ran across a woman who wants to breed dogs up here in the mountains. She would be happy to give you the five grand once the building is down,” Jeremy said.
“No the lot is worth more without the building I’m sure,” I said. ” I’ll hold on to it for a while even after we get the building material off of the site.”
Jeremy smiled and nodded. Then he gave me the name and contact information of the building committee chairman. I made a point of not calling on that Sunday afternoon. However I did ride by the building to see what I was about to get myself into. The church itself was one story and frame. It sat on a dry stack foundation, so the building wasn’t anywhere near plumb and level. It had weathered many years of the earth freezing and thawing.
“Carlos I have something for you to look at,” I suggested into the cell phone. “Can you meet me here now?”
“I am sorry, we are going to my sister’s house for supper,” he said. “How about tomorrow?”
“Just tell me what it is and I’ll try to take a look on the way to my sisters house,” he said.
“Take a look at the old Farmers Grove Freewill Baptist Church building. It’s on the road that crosses in front of Helen’s Diner.”
“Yes I know it. What do you want to know?” he asked.
“How much labor to take it down and what can we get out of it,” I replied.
“I’m going to have to get inside to look around,” he said. “I’ll be busy in the morning but I should be able to look at it in the afternoon. I’ll call tomorrow with a time.”
“Okay, I’ll see if I can get a key,” I said.
I got the chairman of the building committee on the phone right after Carlos. When I got into something like that I hated to wait but I knew I would have to do so.
“Miss Seabold the price is $5,000 dollars for the property, with the understanding that you will demolish it. We do not want it used for some evil purpose,” he said.
“That was the understanding I had. I would like to take a look at the inside of the building to see how much the cost will be to remove it. Could I pick up the key at noon and return it tomorrow evening,” I suggested.
“Better than that I’ll stop by in the morning and leave the key under the mat. Just put it back when you are through,” he suggested. So that’s how we left it.
After I hung up I drove home for more research on the net. I did a lot of research, including tricycles, before I decided what I would buy. I had never paid anywhere near that amount for a bicycle before, but I could justify it, since it was safer for me. Of course being able to use it right away was the deciding factor. I ordered it that same night.
I found that my shoulder was well enough so that I could rest my hand on the desk and type without moving it. That being the case I was again able to spend time in the adult chat rooms on the Internet. I hadn’t missed the fake drama, but I missed the open and frank discussions I could find there, if I spent a little time looking. The conversations were laced with a certain amount of fantasy but even that was interesting as well as erotic. I learned a great deal about human nature.
I checked all the emails before I went to bed and found messages in my real email from the seller of the recumbent six speed racing tricycle. It would be coming by UPS in three boxes. I began to wonder what I had gotten myself into. The simple assembly seemed to be an exaggeration, if it had to be shipped in three boxes. Nonetheless I was looking forward to it.
I fell into bed after I cleaned myself to keep my thighs from chaffing. I hadn’t had to do that in a while, but I didn’t mind since I was ready for bed. I also was asleep within ten minutes.
I awoke again at 3 AM for a bathroom break. On the way back to bed I pushed another stick of wood into the door of the stove. I checked to make sure the door was secure. That had been one of the warnings about wood stoves in general. A hot spark could cause a fire. It was also possible for a lot of carbon dioxide to fill the air if the door wasn’t sealed properly. I knew that my door had a good seal, so I was careful to be sure that I closed it carefully every time I opened it.
I fell onto the sofa and then fell asleep. It was a good night for sleeping, I decided. With the extra stick of wood in the stove, it never really got cold in the room, not even really very cool.