March 23, 2014


        Did you ever come back from a vacation only to feel that you need another vacation?
It happened to me.
Stij and I went up to Sedona for another gander at those wild red rocks, and left my brother-in-law, Marius, in charge.
I left said brother-in-law extensive instructions about trash day, plant watering (both indoor and out), garden and flower watering outside, care of the four pets who live outside (rabbits and turtles), a full refrigerator (beer included), the use of my computer, a paid-up Netflix instant streaming account, and the remote.
What could go wrong?
I’m so silly sometimes.
What we came back to, after a week of resting up, reading, hiking, and lots of good food, fairly closely resembled Hieronymus Bosch’s concept of hell.
Let’s start with the front door.  We rang the bell and expected to be admitted by B-I-L.
We weren’t.
We rang again.
Cursing, I put down every bag I had carefully balanced so that I could get all my crap back into the house in a single trip, fumbled for my keys, and finally found them at the bottom of my handbag.  They were covered in some sort of a sticky substance that was so full of cat hair that it looked like some deranged knitter had created a cozy for them.  I do not have a cat.  Nobody I know has a cat.
I cursed again, scraped the keys off, and unlocked the door.
Now, please understand that I am no Martha Stewart when it comes to housekeeping.  My house will always be cluttered.
But this…
“It looks like Marius bought us some unique throw rugs,” I remarked.  There were passed-out bodies littering the floor.  We quietly stepped over them because if they woke up it would require talking to them before we killed them.
We made our way to the kitchen to find the refrigerator completely empty—even the vegetable crispers had tooth marks—and the door missing.  The floor was such a mess, it looked like a Jackson Pollack painting.  I didn’t even want to think about what all those stains were.
Then there was the odor coming from the living room.  It smelled like a mouthful of rotten teeth on a three-week-old cadaver.       
From the remnants of the dishes covering every available surface, the take-out Mexican food was probably behind “Team Flatulance.”  I opened every openable window and the front and back doors.  At the back door, I I glanced out at my garden and…
“Holy…oh, holy…oh, my god, oh, crap!”
My beautiful garden had been dug up and there were three tombstones in it!
“Funny, isn’t it?  I thought you’d get a laugh out of it,” came Marius’ voice behind us.
“Which one of those is yours, bro?” Stij inquired.
“I want to be sure I put you under the right one.”
“Oh, get a load of this!” I cried.
The dog and the iguana were drunk and sleeping it off in the corner.  
“Pissshitcorruptionsnotfourhundredassholestiedinaknot!  Rah, rah Lizard shit! Fuuuuuuuuuucccccckkkkk!” 
“Oh, Stij, hear that?  Marius taught Renfield some new words!” Renfield is my African Grey parrot, who, up to this point, did not say anything worse than, ‘Darn it!’ 
I made a quick tour of the rest of the house while Stij was sharpening up the kitchen knives.  Main Bathroom—the tub was filled with Doritos and there was steaming chili in the sink.  Master Bathroom—where a freezer unit, removed from my chest freezer, was running.  The floor was covered with ice and there were several pairs of skates in the shower stall. Freezer—warm, dripping, and the spoiling food contributing to the general miasma.  Master bedroom—a big pile of poop was nestled in the center of the quilt it took me four years to make.  Guest room—couldn’t get the door open, and by this time, didn’t care why.  Garage—now contained a 20 gallon fish tank with a lid on top and a really pissed-off looking cobra inside.  I was afraid to look in the closets.
I returned to the living room, where Stij had his brother pushed up against the wall and was screaming at him in Quebecois.
Marius saw me over Stij’s shoulder and pointed.  Stij immediately calmed down, probably not wanting me to see a full-on, pushed-to-the- point-of-no-return Stij. That Stij can melt a window with a mere look.
“About that crap in the middle of the bed…” Marius began, and was quickly cut off due to Stij’s arm compressing his windpipe.
“Crap in the middle of the bed?” Stij echoed.
“Yeah, babe, and not crap as in ‘stuff.’  We’re talking actual gift from the colon here,” I clarified.
Marius was turning purple and could only gurgle.
“Ease up, sweety,” I said.  “I would very much like to hear how our runt-of-the-litter Boston terrier managed to scale the heights of our bed without a great deal of help and leave behind a poop equal to his body mass.”
“Oh, it wasn’t your dog.  It was Bobby.  He gets a little confused when he does Meth.”
Stij released Marius.  “Bobby, right.  First to go.”
“Now wait a minute, Stij…”
“Point him out, or you’ll substitute for him.”
Marius pointed.
Stij picked him up and heaved him out the door, where he slid down the driveway, and knocked over three garbage cans before coming to rest.
“A strike!  Nice throw, hon,” I said.
Stij, however, was in no mood for levity.  “What else to I need to know about?”
“Uh, Rockefeller Center in the master bath, dinner in the main bath, 200 pounds of rotten food, and a new friend for you in the garage—don’t go out there without armor.
“Holy Christ on a pogo stick!”
“Makes my cooking mishaps look pretty tame, doesn’t it?”
At any rate, we sobered up the iguana and the dog, piled all the unconscious strangers, like cordwood, by the trash cans at the end of the driveway and bundled Marius into the quilt with the big pile of poop and pushed him out the door, and then took a breath—a very shallow breath—and surveyed the wreckage.
“I think this house is cursed,” Stij said.  I’ve rebuilt it twice when you and your cooking burned it down, and now I’m going to have to do major remodeling just to make it habitable again.  All told, I figure I’ve already sunk at least a million into a $180,000 house.  This place won’t let me live.”
“So what do you want to do?”
“Get me the matches.”
“Then what?”
“Then I’ll go to a psychiatric hospital to treat the nervous breakdown that I’m going to have in the next ten or fifteen seconds.  It will be nice.  I’ll relax, catch up on my reading, finally be able to sleep at night.  You’ll visit once a week and smuggle me in a reuben from the deli downtown.  Yes, I think that’s definitely the way to go.”
And now, dear readers, I’m living in the tool shed right next to the blackened crater that used to be our house.  It’s a little cramped with the parrot, the dog and the iguana, but the cobra out front keeps the inquisitive away.
And it’s only for another year or two.  The doctors tell me that Stij is making remarkable progress.



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