It’s Christmas Eve. I’m taking a break from taking a break because, well, I don’t need a reason.
The dog from hell arrived yesterday. Rudy. I kept him once before. I was younger then. By a year, anyway. And in the interim he’s been diagnosed as diabetic. No surprise, his was a life of table-food and treats. When it was determined he’d be visiting with me a few days at Aftermath I thought, “Well, he’s being treated now, and I’m calmer now, and we’ll start anew.”
Oh what fools we mortals be.
When he arrived on Christmas Eve Eve, his lovely parents entered with a box of his stuff, a box that was promptly dropped onto the tiles of the hallway. His parents are less bendable than am I, so I hastened to the ground to gather the things spreading and rolling from the box and felt a stabbing pain in my finger. There it was, the business end of one of Rudy’s needles stuck into the middle finger of my right hand. I kid you not. A used needle. His Dad had brought the medical-waste-disposal container for used needles, half full of used needles, its lid not quite on. If I die of doggie hepatitis or insulin poisoning, you will know why. Rudy did it.
I won’t bore you with details of the day. It included Rudy spending most of the day whining off and on that high pitched dog wheeze-whine of despair, every so often resorting to a louder puling of dissatisfaction. (He’s doing it again, now, so charming, even as I type.) No amount of petting, water, treat, walks (he has to be on a leash or he’ll run, well, walk fast, which, in fact, I’m not sure I’d mind, but, his parents are sweet — obviously, else he’d be long dead by now) or — yes — Benadryl, could ever really calm him. At 7p.m. I had to give him his insulin shot– which I have never done — and I did, without incident although so detailed had been his Dad’s warnings about air-bubbles in the syringe I was in full-on panic, expecting him to convulse and explode.
Anyway, feeling a trifle complacent and “this won’t be too awful” about it all, I readied to take him out again — and the required leashing and getting Judah (the Good Glinda, who lives here, to Rudy’s Wicked Evil Visitor status) along for the walk and — well, I open the door and a bird flew in the house. Yes. Okay, so, Rudy wants walkies. I leave the door open, hoping bird will exit. No. Long story, Rudy doesn’t go. I spend an hour trying to catch the bird. Finally do. Open door to put it out, Rudy runs for door, in panic to get rid of bird, keep Rudy in (if only I’d had sense enough to do the reverse) the bird FLIES BACK IN THE HOUSE.
I caught it. Again. Got it out. During which time — somewhere in that adventure — Rudy, who I’d taken on no less than five walks since his arrival and given uncounted treats — had pooped and peed on the floor.
All of which was annoying but not nearly as annoying as his refusal to settle last night. I tried locking him out of the bedroom, which resulted in whimpering unto barking unto door scratching. I tried letting him in the bedroom, which resulted in drinking from toilet and pacing and crawling under bed, tangling himself in and pulling out electric cords. I tried just letting whatever happened, happen, which resulted in me having had about two hours total of sleep and being greeted by pee and poop on the floor in the morning.
The temptation to jab that needle into MYSELF this morning — suicide by insulin, which a nurse once told me was the best way to do it — was almost overwhelming. However, I could NOT do that to A (Aftermath owner) or Judah, who is such a sweet dog, I’d hate to think of him having to eat my dead body to survive until someone found him here, me chewed to bits, EVIL RUDY dead from lack of insulin. Much as I dislike Rudy, I can’t be responsible for the death of another living thing. Only my own.
Oh dear. Uhm, here in this hide-away, Aftermath, I am supposed to be at peace for the birth of Jesus. Yeah, like I believe that — but it does make a nice story in contrast to the visit from SATAN’S MINION, RUDY!
Aftermath (not its real name) is tucked away in a wooded nook, hidden behind a row of conifers back a quarter-mile driveway at the end of a cul-de-sac which defines the eastern border of this private-ish road named for a Jewish holy site. There are fifteen houses sharing the road — although “road” seems rather an aspiration, this is little more than a street — and from each custom-built home, one or two of the others are visible, thus adding to the dual illusions of privacy and community being sold here.
While every house is of unique design, they have in common tiered, bricked, plastic-made-to-look-like-wood arrangements of decking and porches from which to survey one’s estate and compare it to one’s neighbors.And that must matter, because, despite the fact that these homes are invisible from the nearby road, must be sought out, exist only for one another, many of them are elaborately festooned for the holidays. One, in particular, is strung with so many blue lights that although I cannot see the house itself from Aftermath, so powerful was the other-worldy cobalt aura rising into the night-sky from its direction, I walked down there last night to investigate. Every inch of the house is wrapped in blue, so much so it seems to vibrate, like a torn electrical wire that burns with voltage so high it threatens you with blue. The house is not decorated, it is armed, like an alien spaceship. Terrifying. I thought it was terrifying.
And, it wasn’t just the house. Too, there seems to have been a covenant requiring an abundance of outbuildings and multi-docked garages in which to protect from the weather not just the oft washed and waxed, lovingly detailed cars (or, more often, variations on the SUV/station wagon combination) but, too, the collection of four-wheel drive vehicles and tractor-wanna-be’s required for winter travel and grounds maintenance. This blue-house has two such out-buildings, and each of those is wrapped in blue-glow-terror lights as well.
I further noticed that Aftermath is the only home here without a very large, very American, pick-up truck macho-boasting more than four wheels and a complicated exhaust-piping system extending up and around and over the cab and, in enough instances to make me more than a little terrified, a variation of a confederate flag somewhere or another adorning windshield, license plate holder, or bumper. It’s all what I think of as very Nascar. About which I know nothing, but imagine to be full of not-terribly educated, not-terribly in shape white fellows who wear gaudy, unattractive outfits, chew tobacco and belong to secret-organizations one of the tenets of which is to assassinate me as soon as the opportunity arises, if Jesus doesn’t get to it first with that whole second coming, rapture thing; an event I now imagine would glow blue and be conducted using pick-ups sporting confederate flags.
Aftermath, my oasis, is located in that sort of world. Which is, sort of the story of my life: finding a place to hide in a world where I am less than at home.
Now, reality check: I’ve actually seen only a few people while driving in and out of Aftermath, and those few have been mostly ancient and harmless looking. But, it is a well-known fact that old rednecks have gun collections.
Too, now that it is winter, the trees of the surrounding woods are mostly bare, and the sounds from the not too distant highway are louder. Again, Aftermath, the illusion of bucolic, out in the country solitude, with the reality of a major highway less than a mile nearby.
I have been here during Wintertime before, but it was only on this visit I noticed in the woods near the manor this grand, dignified gorgeous tree, long dead, all bleached by age and sun, bent, there in the middle of all the now leafless, winter-bared others. This tree will never again dress for spring nor shed for winter; it long ago finished adapting to the seasons and keeping up with its fellows. It stands, mostly finished, sapped out, waiting to be culled, its roots no longer seeking anything from the earth. It’s so incredibly beautiful, there, just being, holding its own, occupying a space where once it bloomed, taller than the others even still in its fade, its long, slow fade to kindling and ash, courageous in its decrepitude among the living.
I’d like to think I am like that tree. Alas, decrepitude does not play well with the guys at the gym. Or on CraigsList. Or, anywhere else. And if Jesus does return to lead the pick-up brigade and the blue glow culls me and the rest of the godless heathens, well, I am ready to burn to ash. Or, shoot up the insulin o.d. So, happy birthday JC, and hurry the hell up.