horror

Magic Mortimer

Now a CreepyPasta. 

I need help with my nephew, Nicky. The kid is eight, and he’s been doing magic tricks since he saw the Amazing Howard perform at his fifth birthday. It was cute at first, but it started to get a little annoying as the years passed. He wears his cape everywhere, and if you try to make him take it off, get ready for a tantrum. I won’t take him swimming anymore, it’s just too embarrassing.

His father, whoever the hell he is, has never been in the picture. My sister, Gina, is a single mother at her wits end working two jobs just to pay bills. I work from home doing tech support – meaning I babysit often – but I don’t know how to explain any of this to her.

When Nicky first started learning magic, it was all the basics. He separated interlocking rings, had a wand with flowers inside, he even tied his never-ending-tissues together for an impressive display. Until yesterday, he was pretty terrible. His small, clumsy hands couldn’t master the smooth motions needed for the more delicate stunts. Hell, poor kid could barely get those rings separated. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to vanish behind a couch, but I draw the line at being sawed in half.

I learned to stay vigilant with YouTube after I caught him trying to make my cat disappear in the microwave. I mean, no! He wasn’t trying to hurt her, and the cat is fine thankfully, but he didn’t have a rabbit. He thought she was a reasonable substitute as she’s roughly the same size. As for the microwave, it’s a “fancy box” capable of “fireworks”. Can you believe that little shit scamp put tinfoil in there? Luckily, I heard the hissing and arrived before he could get the door closed. I don’t think he’s going to repeat that mistake again, trust me.

I mean, I can’t complain too much. His magic obsession helped him forget Mortimer. What kid names their imaginary friend Mortimer?! Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me just start at the beginning.

I’ve always considered myself a good aunt. I love him like a son, he always comes first, but Halloween is sacred to me. When Gina learned she would be out of town this year, I knew Nicky would expect the traditional day of cartoons and candy his mother always provided – despite knowing I had my own important routines. That’s how kids work.

I knew if I took him to the haunted corn maze after trick-or-treating he might have a nightmare, but I thought it was a risk worth taking. It was my last chance to go, and no one else could babysit. I know the mazes are overrated, but sue me, I love cheesy.

Nicky the Magnificent would be performing on a sugar high that night and I wanted to treat myself first. Is that a crime? Seriously, I’m asking… because that kid came out of there all kinds of throwed. Plenty of kids his age went! It was a normal set up! Cheap decorations, costumed teenagers, you can’t get more basic.

Nicky is a sensitive kid, “stick with me” I said. “They won’t come close if you’re with an adult.” I promised.

“Are you sure?” He worried.

“Positive. If they get near you, I’ll give ‘em a mama-bear-glare that’ll have them pissing their pants.” I assured.

His high-pitched giggles meant the negotiations were won. Everything would have been fine if he listened, but no! I knew I should have put one of those leashes on him, I really did. When we finished trick-or-treating, I checked his candy so he could eat on the way to the cornfield. I thought if I kept him happy, I could enjoy the maze with minimal distraction. When there’s a kid involved, silence is never a good thing.

I took Nicky’s hand as we walked under the grim reaper’s scythe marking the maze’s entrance. He made a quiet sound, but it was more disgust than fear. How I played a part in raising a little boy who doesn’t like monsters, I’ll never understand.

We did fine for the first twenty minutes. Freddy, Jason, and Michael were cool enough to keep a respectable distance when I gave the universal “please no, my kid’s a crier” signal. Nicky even started to have fun when he discovered the dry ice. Smoke machines would never satisfy him again.

As I explained why he wasn’t allowed to touch the dry ice, a pair of hands covered my eyes, and I was almost knocked over by a sudden weight. “What the…”

“Guess who.” The voice playfully whispered into my ear.

Excited, I gave her a quick spin before she jumped off. “Emma! I thought you wouldn’t be back until tomorrow!”

“I know, I wanted to surprise you… and make sure you weren’t hanging out with any… unsavory characters.” She hugged me, utilizing her best puppy-eyes to radiate innocence.

“Yes, because I’ve spent the last year of my life convincing you to move in with me just so I can cheat on you the day before it finally happens.” I smiled, trying not to be annoyed she was still suspicious of my ex.

“I’m not worried about you, but… you never know what that bitch is going to do. Besides, I have enough competition with this magic-man!” She ended the conversation by engaging with Nicky. “Hey little man, did you miss me?”

“Aunt Emma, did you see?” He pulled her over to the dry ice, telling her everything I taught him moments before as if he’s known for years.

She indulged his every word. “I do! We should get some for tonight’s act!” All her paranoid insecurities paled in comparison to how good she was with the kid.

Well, to be fair, she isn’t completely paranoid. Emma’s ex cheated on her their entire relationship. I try to be patient, but how many years does it take to prove myself?

“Come on, kiddo. I’m ready for movie time.” I tried to shut it down right there. I was ready to walk away and never look back. Another few turns and we could have been at the exit, but no.

“Aw, but I wanna see more decorations!” Nicky whined, completing the brat cliche by suddenly enjoying that which he hated thirty minutes ago.

I opened my mouth to argue but Emma spoke first. “Oh come on, let’s just finish the tour.” She grabbed my hand, pulling me away from the exit.

Ten minutes later, we were examining a scarecrow display when a voice called from behind us. “Hey Nicky! I thought you didn’t like spooky stuff!”

Emma’s nails dug into my arm as Becky approached our small group. We couldn’t just leave when I wanted. Nicky abandoned the decor to hide behind me. Which is where I assumed he would stay.

“We were just leaving.” I said, trying for a quick escape.

“Oh. I thought you came this way on purpose. Didn’t you know the exit was a left after the jack-o-lanterns?” Becky slurred, confirming she was already three shots past tipsy.

“Geez, how long have you been following us, stalker?” Emma sneered.

“Don’t get your granny panties in a wad. If you really want to know, I was looking for my date.” Becky snapped.

“We haven’t seen anyone else, good luck.” I tried to walk away, but we were cornered. We couldn’t pass without physically bumping into Becky, and considering that’s what she wanted, I hoped to avoid it.

“You don’t have to be in such a rush. It’s pathetic how you let her control everything you do. Are you allowed to have any friends?” Becky was a world class tactician when it came to drama.

If I let the comment stand, Emma would be upset… or possibly kill her. Either way it would definitely ruin my night. I had to respond. “You being a toxic bitch has nothing to do with Emma!” I stood straight with my best poker face.

“I guess a slut like her has a lot of tricks to keep you in line, but don’t be surprised when you have no friends left. Have fun finding the dweeb.” Becky yelled, stomping toward the exit.

“I told you! It doesn’t take a genius to find you here!” Emma shook with fury.

I put my arm around her for comfort as Becky’s last words hit home. “What did she mean by…” I turned to check on Nicky and saw nothing but empty space. I looked around the small clearing, but he was gone.

“How could he… there’s nowhere to go. It’s just corn! Nicky?! Where are you?” Emma was equally confused.

“You know how he gets when people yell. He must have backed right in there. I didn’t even feel him let go of my shirt.” I examined the place he would have entered, trying not to panic as we continued calling his name. “It’s over now, buddy! The scary lady is gone!” We listened for a response.

“Let’s split up. He wouldn’t just wander through the corn, he must have cut through to another path.” Emma suggested confidently.

She went toward the exit while I retraced our steps through the maze. We stopped every employee along the way to inform them of a rogue eight-year-old magician who would wet his pants if they scared him. Several plain-clothed kids joined the search, but I became increasingly worried as five minutes turned to fifteen then thirty. We were on the phone with police when an employee reported he’d been found. Nicky was safe, waiting at the exit. Emma was there before me, but the family who found him were so upset they had already left.

A family of four were near the clown section when they heard voices. They couldn’t make out the words, but it sounded like children. The father stood on a haystack to see over the stalks, but they were at the maze’s end. Not knowing if kids were lost or goofing off, he called out to them.

The voices stopped suddenly, as if spooked. The father tried again, “you aren’t in trouble, we just wanted to make sure you’re okay.”

There was no reply. Instead they heard the soft sobs of a small child. The father tried one last time, “are you hurt? Can you follow the sound of my voice?” But the weeping only grew louder.

Finally, the man walked into the corn. The moment he entered, the cries turned to screams and the corn began to shake wildly as if someone were running away. It only lasted a few seconds, then all fell silent. Moving on pure adrenaline, the man ran forward.

Almost thirty yards away, he found Nicky. The kid was alone, in the middle of all that corn. The man couldn’t coax him into speaking, but he was able to carry him out of there. After finding a staff member, the couple was understandably ready to get their own kids home.

Somehow, Nicky didn’t have a scratch, but his clothes were covered in filth. I wasn’t surprised he wouldn’t talk, he’s shy around strangers. After thanking everyone profusely I scooped him up and ran for it.

I talked the whole way home, but nothing earned a response. What surprised me more was his demeanor. If he were crying, angry, or frightened, I would understand. Those would be normal responses, but whatever this was… well. Before that moment, I would have bet my life he wasn’t capable of such… composure.

When we got home, he went straight to his room. “I’ve never seen him like this. It’s a little scary.” Emma shuddered.

“Me neither. That man said he heard voices and something big running away. Did someone try to snatch him?! Is that what happened?!” Being home made reality sink in, and I started to lose it.

“Don’t assume the worst, we don’t know what happened yet. All that matters is he’s safe and sound.” Emma steered me to the couch, turning the tv on to break the eerie silence. “Let’s give everyone a second to calm down. If he doesn’t come out, I’ll go ask to be tonight’s amazing assistant.”

“That’s why you’re the smart one.” I laid my head on her shoulder and tried not to dwell on how painful Gina would make my death.

We sat there for almost thirty minutes before our patience depleted. Emma went to Nicky’s room attempting to initiate conversation while I hid in the hallway.

“Hey Nick-knack, you forgot your candy… but if you don’t want it, I’ll just leave it here.” I could imagine her holding the bag out and placing it on the desk when he wouldn’t accept. There was a long pause before she tried again. “So, I haven’t seen a performance all week. I was hoping I could be your assistant tonight!”

After another stretch of silence, she came out. Her expression a mixture of sadness and confusion. I rose quietly to follow her back to the den. “He wouldn’t even look at me… he just stood there, staring out the window. He’s still wearing those filthy clothes, too.” Emma nervously twirled her thick, red hair through her fingers. “I think tonight’s performance is officially canceled to say the least.”

“Gina’s going to kill me, you can keep the house when I’m gone.” It’s strange the things you think when frightened.

“I don’t think we should worry her while she’s a thousand miles away. Let’s see how he feels tomorrow.” Emma reasoned.

“She’ll know the second she hears my voice…” I felt utterly defeated. My brain was incapable of formulating coherent thoughts.

“Give me your phone. I’ll send pictures from trick-or-treating with a message about how tired you are. When she calls, she’ll think you fell asleep.” Emma looped her arm through mine as she began texting.

I waited for her to press send. “It’s scary how good you are at lying.” I whispered.

“I’m not lying! I’m just going to omit a few scary facts that serve no purpose other than…” Emma’s words were cut off as she screamed into my ear.

“Holy…” I started as we both jumped to our feet.

I followed her shocked gaze to the hallway behind me. My heart skipped a beat when I saw Nicky standing in the dark shadows just outside his door. “I’m sorry bud, you surprised me! I didn’t hear you come out.” Emma’s face flushed to match her hair.

Nicky didn’t move or speak, he simply stood in the darkness, glaring at us. “Are you trying to scare me? If you are, you need to stop now… okay? This kind of fear is not fun, Nicolas. Do you hear me?” The stern parent voice wasn’t usually part of my cool-aunt routine, the words felt dirty on my tongue.

Never let them smell your fear. If they sense weakness, they will pounce. Gina’s first parenting lesson repeated in my mind. Drawing on its strength, I tried again. “You get out here right now!” I stomped my foot for added flair.

Nicky remained motionless. If looks could kill, I would not be alive to beg for help now. I was prepared to drag him out, but as I stepped forward, he returned to his room. He went calmly, without a care in the world. I intended to follow, but Emma held me back. “You better change out of those dirty clothes right now! Don’t you dare get mud on those sheets, young man!” I screamed at the closed door.

“Wait, maybe we should see what he does… he might go to sleep. If he’s not better by morning we can take him to a doctor.” She suggested.

“And say what?!” I snapped. “My nephew disappeared into a corn maze and now his vocal cords are broken? … I am so sorry, I didn’t mean to yell at you.” I sank into the couch, defeated.

After a slight hesitation she sat. “It’s okay, but for the record, I meant a psychologist. It might be good for him anyway… you know, just in general.”

I choked down the anger, keeping my voice level and soft. “I know you aren’t wrong. I just can’t shake this feeling of… dread. Like something terrible happened.”

“No matter what happens, all we can do right now is wait. Do you still want your horror movie marathon?” Emma flinched, and it made me feel terrible.

“I may have lost my taste for those.” I whispered.

Leaving the tv alone entirely, we held each other in silence until we ignored Gina’s call. She would already kill me for breaking her son – delaying her knowledge one more day would hardly make a difference. Emma and I fell asleep entangled on the couch and didn’t wake until 7am.

Emma rushed to prepare for work as I tip-toed to Nicky’s room. His filthy clothes were piled in the hallway. I cracked his door enough to see his sleeping form and quietly retreated.

After tossing his clothes into the wash, I updated Emma. “See, I bet he’s fine now!” She sighed with relief.

After she left for work, I busied myself with chores while waiting for Nicky to wake. I kept him home from school, not wanting kids to have another reason to label him as different if he wasn’t a hundred percent. It was close to nine when I heard the soft click of his door. I stayed in the kitchen, heart racing as I listened to his approach. He slowly walked to the table and took his usual seat. Once settled, he initiated a new staring contest.

Frustration, terror, and regret formed a heavy ball of lead in my stomach. “You’re still giving me the silent treatment?” I kept my voice neutral.

“I wish to eat. Please.” His voice came out eerily monotone, but the look of loathing was gone. Now his face was the picture of indifference.

I prepared a bowl of cereal while deciding what to say. “I know you’re upset, but if you don’t tell me what happened, I don’t know how to help.” Placing the bowl before him, I found myself holding my breath.

“I lost my way for a moment. I am sorry to have caused any inconvenience.” He answered in the same creepy monotone. Inflection aside, it was unsettling to hear the strange choice of words flow effortlessly from his mouth.

It was time for the moment I truly feared. “Did someone try to make you go with them last night? It’s really important you tell me the truth on this, bud. I promise, you aren’t in trouble.” My words were slow, it felt like I was speaking under water.

It was the longest pause of my life. I felt every heartbeat’s prominent thump in my throat as I waited. “A rude adolescent chased me, but Mortimer scared him away.”

The brief feeling of relief was violently ripped away as I understood what he was telling me. “Oh… so Mortimer is back, huh? That’s umm. That’s cool, bud. We haven’t seen him around in quite a while now!”

I watched him walk to the den. I knew I should follow, but I was frozen. Mortimer first came around when Nicky was in kindergarten, but he wasn’t a nice friend like kids usually invent. Mortimer was a defense mechanism against bullies and the reason we had to switch to a private school.

I decided to kill Mortimer with kindness. I joined Nicky on the couch, relieved to see he was enjoying one of the old David Copperfield recordings. “Do you want to practice a new act before Emma comes home? Maybe Mortimer can help.”

Just as I thought he wasn’t going to answer, he surprised me. “I don’t need to practice anymore.”

“Why’s that?”

“Mortimer can share his magic with me.” He explained as if I were the child.

“Right, silly me. Do you think you could give me a sneak peek?” I asked.

Again, just as I thought I wouldn’t get a response, he surprised me. Rising to his feet, he extended both palms to show me their emptiness. One hand slowly reached up, and I felt a slight tickle as his fingers brushed my ear. He held the coin out for my inspection, face still completely blank. The trick was flawless, his first success at the “coin behind your ear”, but he looked as if it was the thousandth. I didn’t know which to be more surprised by, his ability or the reaction.

“That was amazing! I’m so proud!” I wanted to ask how he finally mastered it, but feared upsetting him. Last time someone contradicted Mortimer’s existence, a classmate got twelve stitches. Hence being forced to change schools. “Can I see another one?” I asked instead.

I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to describe the absolute horror I felt at his next stunt. I still shake at the thought.

Without standing, Nicky removed his top hat, wand waving. I forced myself to breathe as he reached deep inside, almost to his shoulder. When he withdrew his hand, he held a white, fluffy bunny. I leapt from my seat, stuttering nonsense.

Remaining infuriatingly silent, Nicky set the rabbit aside and turned his attention back to Copperfield. Realizing I came to rest in a squatting position, I slowly rose to peer over the couch arm. The bunny we did not own was still there, looking incredibly real and curiously well behaved.

I carefully reached out to pet it, jumping a little at the soft, smooth fur beneath my fingers. I sent a picture to Emma before picking it up. “I’m very impressed. I’m going to get our new friend some lettuce, I’ll be right back, okay?” My voice cracked, but I’m almost certain he didn’t notice.

I retreated from the eight-year-old with no shame. I set the bunny next to the fridge with a handful of lettuce while I found the Whiskers’ carrier. I didn’t know what else to do, but it seemed content. I tried to explain what happened over text, but Emma didn’t believe me. She thought I finally lost my mind, and I can’t blame her. Her only response was, “I’m coming home right now.”

Thirty minutes later she was inspecting the bunny for herself. “Magic isn’t real, babe. He must have found it somewhere. Maybe it’s the neighbor’s pet.” Emma guessed.

“You didn’t see him when he did it. He wasn’t proud or excited, he didn’t even smile! It was disturbing how… old… he seemed. Come on, you have to see.” I insisted.

“Hey Nick-knack, I missed you so much I had to leave work early.” She dropped onto the couch, putting her arm around him as she spoke.

“Welcome home, Auntie.” Nicky answered without looking at her.

“I heard you had some new tricks; can I see one?”

I found myself taking a few steps back, wanting more distance between myself and whatever else was in that hat. I had to fight an urge to pull Emma away from him, and I felt a guilty pang at my desire to see Gina return. Nicky reached deeply into the hat once again, but this time he found roses. Real ones.

The look on Emma’s face told me she was beginning to understand. “Thank you, that was so good! I’m going to put these in some water. Babe, can you help me find a vase?”

“Yea, no problem.” I answered, following her to the kitchen.

“What the actual—” She began.

“I know, that’s what I was trying to say.” I set the vase next to the bunny, grateful the roses would be easier to tend.

“What do we do? I don’t think I want to see anymore magic tricks for a while.”

“I don’t know. I’m afraid to talk about it when he might hear us. It’s lunch time. Let’s feed him and hope he won’t do any more tricks if we don’t ask.” It was the only idea I could think of, so that’s what we did. It worked well until 8:00.

We almost made it to his bedtime without incident, but Nicky had a sudden mood swing when the last Copperfield tape ended. As if someone flipped a switch, he leapt to his feet, taking a sweeping bow, hat in hand.

He used his performance voice like the last twenty-four hours never happened. “Attention, Attention! Tonight, Nicky the Magnificent and Mortimer the Malevolent will give you the thrill of a lifetime! But first, I’ll need a volunteer from the audience.

So many things went through my mind in that moment. My brain fought to believe the kid confused the words malevolent and marvelous but couldn’t quite pull it off. If I had time to think, I would have shut the whole thing down, but I didn’t. Emma was standing, prepared to volunteer as she had so many times before, but I couldn’t let her.

I instinctively pulled her back, rising to take her place. She sat down without argument but clearly confused. “Where do you want me?” My voice was surprisingly steady.

“Step right this way! Into the Amazing Closet of Curiosities!” Nicky lead me to the coat closet, and I had to acknowledge the humor in believing he would suddenly have a real disappearing cabinet as well.

He pushed the coats aside and gestured for me to enter. The door closed and I felt foolish at my sudden fear of the dark. “Now I will say the magic words, and my lovely assistant will vanish. After sixty seconds, I will say the return incantations, and she will reappear. Are you ready?”

The magic words sounded impressively like flawless Latin. I couldn’t repeat them here even if I were willing. When Nicky said the last words, all fell completely silent and I realized he was giving me time to hide. I felt in the darkness, looking for a coat to cover myself, but felt nothing around me.

There is a place beyond fear. A place so foreign you lose all ability to process the primal emotion. My theory is the brain enters a state where it doesn’t bother with fear due to the certainty its circumstances are fabricated. That was my experience as I felt the ice-cold concrete beneath me.

I used my phone’s flashlight to check my surroundings and immediately wished I waited the sixty seconds in darkness. It was a literal collection of curiosities. I was somehow standing in the most disturbing, macabre museum in history.

In front of me stood a large showcase filled with jars, all containing various organs. Human or otherwise, I have no idea. Everywhere I looked was isle after isle of similar displays and torture devices. The walls were covered in framed photographs of history’s darkest moments. I saw graphic images from every war, work of every serial killer, and worse, all displayed like famous artwork.

Then I heard loud, lumbering footsteps. I wanted to run, but my feet wouldn’t cooperate. I began counting, desperate to know how many seconds remained or if I would really return. The footsteps grew closer, louder, until finally I squeezed my eyes shut, too afraid to look. The sound died instantly and I pictured a a faceless monster standing before me.

“Tada!” Nicky yelled, throwing open the door. “I’m sorry you didn’t have time to meet Mortimer, do you want to try again?”

I opened my eyes to the bright lights of the den and the cold, insidious look in my nephew’s eyes. Emma rushed past him, her face full of concern. She pulled me to my feet and away from the closet. Before we made it to the safety of our bedroom, I already decided the thing would be sealed shut. There was nothing irreplaceable in there.

“Are you okay?! What the hell was that? You were gone!” I could barely make out her words as she cried into my shoulder.

I told her everything, unable to hold it in. She didn’t doubt my story this time. “Promise me you’ll never do one if his tricks again! I couldn’t live with myself if you had to go through that.” I gently turned her face to meet my eyes, needing her to understand my desperation. She nodded agreement, unable to speak.

Refusing to let me out of her sight, Emma followed me back to the den, but Nicky was no longer there. Instead, we found him in his room, sleeping… or pretending to sleep. Either way, we couldn’t help feeling a wave of relief. We locked ourselves in the bedroom to talk about what we should do. The police would think we’re crazy if we tried to report this; that’s when we decided to try the internet.

Emma fell asleep hours ago and I’m exhausted, but it’s worth it to have this finished. I’m going to upload this and try to get a few hours of sleep myself. I’ll be back to check this in the morning. Any advice would be most appreciated.

—Scared4Nephew post submitted November 2nd, 2021 3:03am—

I want to start by saying thank you for all the support. Most of you have been incredibly kind, and I appreciate your words of encouragement. Emma is at work and Nicky is in school, so I have time to address a few comments. Don’t worry, I told his teacher he’s grounded from magic, everyone should be perfectly safe.

The most popular theory seems to be that Nicky is possessed. Whether Mortimer was always real or something else is using his name, I have no idea. During breakfast, I researched the cornfield as advised. It seems a house was built there in 1913, but it burned down three years later.

It is believed the wife, Patty Johnson, suffered at the hands of her abusive husband. One night, after a particularly bad beating, Patty drugged Earl’s food. After he passed out, she burned the house to the ground with both of them inside. A few years later, farmers bought the land for corn, but no one has lived there since the Johnsons.

No one was familiar with the museum of nightmares, but a few of you suggested these were images put in my mind opposed to a physical place. If that is so, the hallucinations were impressive with full five sensory immersion. Since I never intend to go there again, I hope it won’t matter.

MythosMania2632 sent detailed instructions on how to perform an at-home exorcism. It sounds a little complicated, but I don’t see another choice. Gina will be home this evening, and I cannot let her see Nicky this way. If all goes well, I should be able to exorcise the kid after school and have him back to normal before Emma is home.

I just need to do a little shopping and prepare a space in the basement. I can’t believe how many specific-colored candles are required… or that the chalk I use to draw the incredibly complicated symbol must be black. I hope chicken blood from the butcher is okay, I’m not sure where else to get it. I guess I should hurry, it may take longer than expected to finish preparations.

—Scared4Nephew post submitted November 2nd, 9:27am—

I never made it inside the first store! The school called as I pulled into Sam’s Club. “Parents must pick their children up immediately.” One of Nicky’s classmates, Trent something, has disappeared! Police are investigating, more updates to come. When I arrived, Nicky’s teacher loaded him into the backseat before walking around to the driver’s window.

“I don’t understand how it happened! They were taking turns going to the bathroom, you know, a few at a time, but… but Trent never came back. The other boys said he was still in the restroom when they left.” She was hysterical, eyes puffy from crying, then she whispered, “Nicky was the last to see him, make sure you keep a special eye on him… the poor dear seems to be in a bit of shock.”

Can you guys believe that? She didn’t suspect him in the least, hell, she was worried about him! Desperate to escape I thanked her for the warning and drove forward as she continued talking. I waited until we were safely away before speaking to Nicky. “What the hell did you do?!” I yelled.

“Nothing! Mortimer…” He began, but I cut him off.

“Fine! What did Mortimer do?! Just tell me! Because your little ass is bringing that kid right back! Do you understand me? You will not leave a third grader in that nightmare, I don’t care what he did to deserve it.” As spit flew from my flushed face, it occurred to me I could be the crazy one. What if none of this were real?

“Mortimer didn’t like Trent, it’s too late for him… and you better watch how you talk to me, or next time you’ll stay gone.” Nicky said in a voice too deep for an eight-year-old.

Some involuntary reflex still reacted to the sight of his tiny form threatening me. Without meaning to, I slammed on the brakes, throwing us forward into our seatbelts. I drove home more carefully after that, but it seems the damage was done. The moment we stepped inside, his little hands grabbed me from behind, and I found myself back in that museum of nightmares.

Everything was exactly as I left it except for one difference. Now I could see who the footsteps belonged to. “Mortimer” was sickly yellow, at least six foot five, and stick-thin with a bald, pointy head. His toothless grin made me nauseas as his tongue licked at his lips. His eyes were full black, and his nose was missing, leaving a wide, triangular hole in the center of his face. He let out a low, guttural laugh at the sight of me.

I made no conscious plans or effort for my actions, but somehow, I was able to speak despite my fear. “Leave my nephew alone, you can’t have him!” I yelled.

“Why would I give up such a fine specimen? He agreed to be mine fair and square, so desperate he was for a friend!” The thing laughed again, louder than before.

“He’s just a kid, he’s nothing. Take me instead, I agree! Fair and square as it were.” Can you believe it? When I read the comments about offering a trade, I immediately discounted them. Anything that didn’t provide the traditional fairytale ending was simply not an option. Yet here I was, offering my body as vessel for some deranged monster.

Should I have been surprised he agreed? I was. Maybe that’s what he wanted all along. Maybe that’s how they get the adults, by preying on our young. I guess it doesn’t matter now, what’s done is done. I can feel him inside me, trying to influence my writing. He wants you all to come visit. He wants everyone to meet Mortimer the Malevolent, so you can all be part of our collection.

I’m afraid I need to go now, Emma is home. I can hear Nicky talking in hushed tones, I better go check on them. Thanks again for all your help, I couldn’t have done it without you.

Address listed below, no need to RSVP, bring your friends.

—Scared4Nephew post submitted November 2nd, 5:32pm—

humor, life

That is Not Adderall

A short rant before we begin. I was born in 1988, therefore, I’m quite fond of the number 88. Today, I learned that number is apparently a nazi thing? Fml, are you serious?! Screw that, it’s mine!

Time for another tale of terror from the time we rented the spliced together hoard house outside town. If you haven’t read Rain Showers, I suggest you go there first. You can’t appreciate the horror of this atmosphere without it. This will take place during our second month, before we lost water, but after we lost the dryer. You also need to remember Amy is Hubby’s sister and had a Xanax problem.

Memory Refresher

* I want to include a reminder. This story is almost a decade old, and Amy has not had a drug abuse problem in several years. We get along famously these days and I’m happy to consider her a sister. She has no memory of these events, but she’s a great sport about laughing at them. *

One day, I will get around to how Amy dumped Rob, but that drama can wait. Today, we’re going to talk about after they separated, when Amy’s electricity was cut off. Whether she forgot to pay the bill or used the money for drugs is irrelevant. The important part is that no one would take her in. We were the only family still speaking to her at that time, and we genuinely needed help making the house livable.

With great hesitation, we said she could stay the week if she helped out. To be fair, she did help a bit. As these things tend to, it started off well. She had food stamps and filled the house with groceries. Was it food we ate? Eh, not really, but we thought, well, at least she’s feeding herself. That will save some money.

Wrong! Let me tell you now, most of the groceries spoiled. Hubby worked during the day, I worked from home answering a phone. Every day, when I drove into town for whatever errands, Amy tagged along. Every day, without fail, she asked, “Can we stop at Fast Food? I haven’t eaten today.”

Of course, she only works the months around Christmas so she didn’t have money. She never volunteered the information, instead waiting until it was time to pay. I wouldn’t offer on principle, meaning we had to play out the same long, awkward silence until she asked for money. The worse part was how she counted the wasted groceries as “paying us back.”

Anyway, the point is, she offered us drugs to help cope with the pain. Our favorite pill has always been Adderall, but it’s extremely difficult for us to acquire. They were a rare treat. Imagine our glee when Amy announced, “You like those? I have a whole bottle. My friend has a prescription, but she hates them.”

“Amy, if you have a purse full of Adderall I need you to get it right now.” I said with the eyes of a starving wolf.

We tried to keep our hopes in check, it was Amy after all. Even as she removed the large bottle from her purse I thought it was too good to be true. Then she opened it, placing it on the table before us, and we stared at a mountain of pure white powder. That’s when I called bullshit.

“No, it really is, I swear! She just takes it out of the capsules so she can rip people off, but this is real stuff!” Amy insisted, spreading generous lines of the drug.

Hubby and I were dubious but had to admit it was a common practice. “You’ve done some already?” I asked.

“Yea, it’s fine, watch.” Amy snorted the first line, and when she didn’t have a seizure, we tried it.

It was Adderall! Can you believe it? We sure as hell couldn’t! I know, I know, ‘but what about your title’ right? Hold your britches, I’m getting there.

We had two extremely productive days thanks to the miracle powder. Everything went so well, we didn’t even mind Amy’s Xanax fits like when she asked the same question thirty times or talked through new episodes of Doctor Who. Everything was aces until we left her home alone for twenty minutes.

Hubby and I drove to the gas station and back, no big deal… or so we thought. Upon our return, we decided it was time for a pick-me-up. I retrieved our powder from its hiding place – it’s relevant to know it was hidden well on one of our many bookshelves. It wasn’t left out in a place for anyone to happen upon. I poured a nice healthy pile, and as I began to separate it into lines, I realized huh, why does it look so funny.

“Hey, come look at this… is. Is this salt?!” I asked Hubby in the opposite of an indoor voice.

(This is one of those times I’m going to reduce the cursing by 90%. It was so bad.)

“Because it is fraking salt! That bitch!” Hubby stormed off to find Amy while a monkey named Jonesy ruthlessly clawed my back for that Adderall.

I spent more hours than I want to admit separating the tiny specs with a flashlight and tweezers. I fully understood how pathetic it was, but I had to try. The worst part was, she didn’t have to do it. We weren’t being greedy, trust me she was like a blood-hound. Every time we pulled it out – no matter where we hid – she was there. She wouldn’t ask for it, no. She talked about how tired she was until Hubby offered.

That was fine. It was a huge bottle, and she didn’t get anything in return she wasn’t already getting. I didn’t understand why she felt the need to ruin the entire bottle to cover the fact she used more. My rage was also divided by the fact she thought salt was something to use for that purpose. I didn’t trust myself to speak when Hubby brought her to the kitchen.

I bit my tongue long as I could, but then she started talking. “I just came to see what happened, is there really salt in the Adderall?”

I glared at her, hoping to induce an aneurysm.

“Because Phoebe and that guy came over while you were gone. They just walked in the back door… and they were standing over there by that shelf when I walked in… they left after I told them you weren’t here.” After an incredibly long silence she continued, “So… I mean. I don’t know them, but could they like…”

Let’s entertain her story while we’re here. The notion of Phoebe and her boyfriend coming was ludicrous. She only walked over if they were fighting. When she did walk over, it was via the rock path to the front door, not the mud hole to the back. They didn’t know the drugs existed nor that I decided to hide something on that shelf for the first time ever.

“Do you understand what I would have done to you if I snorted salt?” There it went. The dam broke and all bets were off.

“I really didn’t…” Amy started.

“Please don’t. I’m begging you. If you’re going to do the deny, deny, deny thing, save it for later. Just get away from me for now, I don’t have it in me to pretend to believe you.” I couldn’t look at her, instead I looked at my tiny white specs and begged Jonsey to let me think.

Amy walked away but didn’t stop talking. She continued professing her innocence as she walked to the living room. My memory gets a little fuzzy here, but somehow I came to stand in the doorway, throat sore, staring at her, Hubby standing next to me.

“How about we go for a drive? It’s not like she can do more damage. I’ll help you sort what’s left when we get back.” He offered.

I suppose I agreed because we were no more than a few minutes away when I realized I left my purse behind. “Shit, we have to go back. I have cash in there.” I said angrily.

“Where did you leave it?” He asked.

“In our bedroom, under my nightstand.” I admitted, knowing what he would think.

“Okay, well it’s not like you left it in the open. She won’t go looking for it, she probably assumes you have it with you.” He tried to be reassuring.

“No, I already don’t like this. We gotta go back.” Money aside, I still had (have) only-child syndrome. I couldn’t accept she wouldn’t want to steal my prized possessions.

We turned around, gone for less than ten minutes when we returned. I almost let myself hope when she was sitting on the couch, exactly as we left her, but I knew I couldn’t breath easy until I saw the cash. I went straight to the purse and opened my wallet. It was empty. Can you guess who Amy blamed? Yes! It was Phoebe again! Wouldn’t you know we just missed those rascals!

I was done folks. I washed my hands of it. “You know what Amy? Forty bucks is a small price to pay to get rid of you. You’re going home first thing in the morning, best of luck with your electricity.” I walked away before I said anything truly harsh.

Hubby talked to her for a few minutes, but I had a monkey to feed. We resumed powder picking and saved more than expected, but it was a pittance of the whole.

The next morning I was gifted with Amy’s reasoning for destroying our white gold. She returned our money and a hefty pile of Adderall powder after waking. Apparently she wasn’t happy just doing the drugs, she wanted to sell some when she realized how much people like it. She was too ashamed to ask for it and thought salt would be the best way to hide her actions. She included, “I don’t remember any of it, but this was in my bag so I guess that’s what happened.” To help maintain a distance from true blame.

We took our possessions back and reassured her she was forgiven. “No hard feelings” as it were. Unfortunately she misunderstood forgiveness as “you can keep staying here”, but we were over our limit. You can only have so many angry, mentally disturbed people living under one roof before someone dies. Hell, we were already stretching that number before she came.

So yea, we dropped her off at her apartment. It was really dark in there, she didn’t have windows, but no one else would agree to take her. I really do feel terrible about how bad she sounds in this, but we all pull an Amy at some point in our lives. Whether you were drunk, high, or just plain nuts, you have at least one story where you star as the asshole. We all do, and we should all be the terrific sports about it she is.

Thanks for reading! I wanted to translate a non-horror classic next, but I seem unable to help myself. I want to have a variety of genres to select from, but I keep getting distracted, I’m sorry. The Yellow Wallpaper is coming soon because I’ve always wanted to read it but never had time. I’m going to try to take a few days off in order to clean a guest room out, but we’ll see how it goes.

Stay safe out there. Sometimes, they really are out to get you.

Poetry Disclaimer: The below poetry is horrible. Do not read it if you are serious about poetry. It is for amusement purposes only. For full poetry details see Sex, Drugs, & Robbery.

“Everyday Take Away”


28 hour days,
Time trickles, slowly fading away.
Lost, confused, in a daze,
Spinning, twirling, in a haze.

Eyes are the windows to the soul,
But mine is no longer whole.
Rotten, decayed, black as night,
Broken, defeated, screaming in fright.

Love is a useless word,
Spoken but never heard.
No give and all take,
A world engulfed in hate.
Whatever was meant to be,
Is long lost to eternity.


humor, life

JustNoMil (Pt. 2)

I hope this final installment of the JustNoMil duology finds you well. The week is flying by, so with your permission I would like to dive right in today. We’re going to start with the first Valentines Crook and I were able to spend together. We were two years into the relationship, but he was on a rig for the first one. The second year, he returned from a two week hitch February 13th. Normally I don’t buy into Valentine’s Day unless it precedes the word ‘massacre,’ but we were excited for this one.

Upon arriving, Crook was unable to keep his special plans secret any longer. The fact he planned anything while at work was impressive. “I was trying to surprise you, but it’s harder keeping the secret now that I’m home. I made reservations at Haunted Hotel.” His voice was filled with pride. Securing a reservation anywhere on Valentines was difficult, but he succeeded with one of the best.

If you read Calling All Ghosts, yes. That’s the place. He knew I’m not big on romance, but wanted to show the effort. Hoping (correctly) a spooky theme would make the holiday more enjoyable, he called in a favor to reserve the best haunt-themed food in town.

As if her spidey-sense detected our happiness, Effie called intent to ruin it. “Hey Sweetie, I just wanted to make sure you got home safe.” Her sobs sounded more genuine than usual. I suppose practice makes perfect.

“Yea, I’m fine. What’s wrong? Are you okay?” Crook shifted into worried son mode seamlessly.

I assumed she was trying to force him to feed her animals, but that was only a secondary reason for calling. “Oh… I’m fine… you don’t want to hear me cry about my pitiful life. I’m just so depressed about Valentines Day. I’d rather kill myself than spend another one alone…”

You could tell she was desperate by how quickly she brought out the big guns. With Crook’s blindness to the manipulation tactics I memorized in a month, Effie successfully invited herself to our dinner in under 5 minutes. Was I so angry I nearly blacked out? Obviously. Did I make a scene? No. I knew he would get defensive if I tried to explain what Effie was doing. Instead, I took deep breaths. Reminding myself, you hate this crap anyway. It’s only for dinner, just a couple hours. The rest of the day is ours. We’re going to watch anime, smoke weed, and eat Chinese takeout because that’s what gives life meaning.

That mantra got me through the night and next morning. At noon, my happy place was burned to the ground when Effie arrived, unannounced. I stared at her through the window, willing her to disappear, but eventually I was forced to open the door. I motioned for her to have a seat, explaining Crook was still catching up on his sleep.

Effie was having none of that. She walked straight down the hallway, into our bedroom, and shrieked “Wake up Sweetie! Mommy is heeeeeeeere!”

I remained on the living room floor, struggling to breath as a panic attack consumed me. I became deaf to all but my own thoughts. She went in our room. There’s someone in our room, what’s wrong with you? Get in there and kill it! She’s going to sit on your bed! Move!

Faintly, distant noises began filtering through the static. I heard sounds that were either dresser drawers or blunt force trauma. Realizing the moans of pain were coming from myself, I assumed it was the former.

Eventually, I see them exit the bedroom, arm-in-arm. Crook disheveled and confused; Effie grinning ear to ear, still talking. “I’m so excited we’re spending the day together. This is the best Valentines ever!”

I physically bit my tongue, terrified to speak. I could already feel the angry tears forming. I knew if I tried to talk, only unintelligible squalls would emerge. The one thing preventing a full meltdown was my invisibility. Effie was only interested in feeding her delusion, and I didn’t fit into her script. I tuned her out, pouring all my focus into tv for the next several hours.

We were 20 minutes away from leaving for dinner when another knock sounded at the door. I opened it to be greeted by a dozen red roses; Crook’s last surprise. Before I could react, Effie pushed past me, squealing like Miss Piggy, and took my flowers.

Smelling the roses, she met my gaze. I’m not sure what emotion she mistook fury for, but I still get angry thinking about how she said “Oh Crook, you shouldn’t have! But it’s not fair to buy me all these beautiful roses!” Looking at me as if I were a homeless person begging for spare change, she gave me the card and one rose. “Here, don’t feel left out.”

(This always bothered me, think about it. Since she handed me the card… she knew, right? Deep down on a subconscious level she can never admit to… she had to know, right? I think she knew.)

I looked to Crook, (still naive enough to think he might correct her) but he stared at his feet, tail tucked between his legs. I threw the card (open for all to read) on the table next to Effie, and finished preparing for dinner.

Seated at the only 3-top in the restaurant, Effie ordered for all of us. When I told the waiter to change my order, she glared at me as if slapped. I held my tongue as she requested a vase for her roses, but I finally understood why she insisted on bringing them. It wasn’t enough to claim them, she needed other people to see; they made it feel real. When I didn’t react to her prompts clearly fishing for a compliment, she became sullen.

From that point forward, she complained about the food and service nonstop. The only complaint I had toward dinner was Effie’s company, but I digress. It was the longest dinner of my life, and we still weren’t free of her. Having refused to drive herself “to a date” we were stuck with her until she sobered enough to drive herself home. After the first pot of coffee, I thought she was faking. It wasn’t the first time she tried to spend the night, but it was thankfully the last.

Thus ended the worst Valentines of my life. For the next and last story regarding Effie, I will discuss her arm/shoulder surgery. Do you know what’s worse than a paranoid, codependent hypochondriac? A hypochondriac who actually has something wrong. I don’t have kids, I’ve never cared for one under 7 in my life, but I would take on five toddlers before going near Effie again.

At this stage, we were years into our relationship, and I was savvy to all Effie’s tricks. When we learned she was genuinely in need, I had no problem visiting her in the hospital or caring for her animals. When she was able to finish recovery at home, I was a fantastic sport. I even walked her to the bathroom a few times (it’s not like I had to go in with her).

What I did have issues with, was how she treated us while we were helping. Each day we did our usual chores, and before leaving we asked, “Is there anything else you need? You’re sure? Because we’re about to go home.”

Every single day she said, “No, I’m fine thanks.” Without fail, 10 minutes after being home, she called Crook, begging him to return.

If I had to guess, I think she preferred him to visit without me (I sure did) knowing he would be easier to manipulate. Let me be clear, after the first week, she was fully functional for everything except lifting or certain movements with her arm. We knew she would use us as long as possible, but even if she didn’t have a walker, there was absolutely no reason she could not walk unattended.

With that understood, here’s what happened three weeks into her recovery. As with every other day, we performed our morning chores, asked if she needed anything else, and went home. We only had time to sit down with a fresh bowl before the phone rang.

“Can’t we just ignore her this once? Just until we finish smoking?” I begged.

“I’m sorry, I just need to make sure she hasn’t hurt herself. I’m not going back today, I’m sick of it too.” Crook answered the phone. It was one thing to lie to me, I could understand that, but it was infuriating when he lied to himself. Let me break their conversation down the easy way as we near our conclusion.

Effie: Hey Baby, can you bring Mama something to eat? I finally have an appetite and I’m craving my favorite pizza place.

Crook: But… they’re right across the street. The doctor said you should be trying to get out now. It might be good for you to go.

Effie: I don’t care what that quack said! He can’t feel my pain! I’ll never make it!

Crook: Okay, fine. If you aren’t ready to drive, just have it delivered.

Effie: Ugh, I can’t get out of my chair to make it to the door! Why are you arguing with me? I’m starving!

Crook: Fine! When did they say it would be ready?

Effie: I haven’t ordered it. Tell them to make sure all these very picky details are correct or you’ll send it back. I absolutely can’t eat it if it’s not right.

Crook: I’ll never get all that straight. Could you at least call the order in? Then I’ll just pick it up and bring it to you.

Effie: No, they don’t like me, they always do it wrong on purpose. See if they’ll get it right for you.

Crook: Fine, I’ll be there soon to get the money, then I’ll go grab your food.

Effie: You can’t even buy your mother one meal while I’m starving to death?!

Crook: Yea, sorry.

People, my blood boiled. I could almost see the bubbles under my skin as the heat simmered throughout my body. I stared at Crook in disbelief, speechless, wondering if his balls would ever drop.

When Crook delivered her food, it was indeed wrong. He insisted she asked for olives, Effie insists she said no olives. I don’t know who was correct, I didn’t hear it firsthand, but I have two equally plausible theories.

  1. Crook subconsciously got it wrong on purpose, sick of Effie’s shit.
  2. Effie didn’t have anything else to complain about, and olives were the first thing she thought to use.

As an adult possibly speaking to impressionable teens, I won’t say what I would have done to the food, but if you’re familiar with the movie Waiting, you have a pretty good idea. The important thing is, these stories are home where they belong. There’s still the matter of my notebooks, but as far as online publications go, I think these were the only ones. Now I can spend the week fully submerged in all the glorious horror of Halloween. I think I’ll go listen to some CreepyPastas while I decide what to write next. Maybe I should start taking requests.

Oh yea, can’t forget the sign-off. You all be safe out there. Sometimes, they really are out to get you.

Here is Hannibal pretending to be a flower. For cat tax.
humor, life

JustNoMil (Pt. 1)

Cat Update: #12 has shown me his dingleberries, he is now Heathcliff. He no longer hides under the truck when we go outside but will not receive our pets. There is territory trouble with Percy and Lily, but we’re making daily progress.

If anyone is a fan of the subreddit JustNoMil, this one goes out to you. For those unfamiliar, MIL is mother-in-law, and Reddit has a fantastic community where people discuss their personal experiences. I highly recommend it, they have some gems. Bestie, who has relatable in-laws, introduced me to it knowing Crook’s mother was prime writing material. I posted a four part story about her six years ago, but can’t get into my old account. I want to bring them home to the rest of my crazy.

My only-child syndrome has clearly evolved to a new level. I now see my stories as living things, each in need of my loving protection. Maybe it’s more god-complex or OCD, but either way this needs to be done. They were fairly short, but typed in the subreddit’s speak. Written correctly, they’re too long for one post, but I think I can get it done in two. Back then, I was apparently too embarrassed to admit certain details. That and other deviations will be corrected in this improved telling of my MIL series.

Crook’s mother reminds me of a ginger Aunt Effie from Mama’s Family, so that’s what we’ll call her. We had a traditional meeting, Crook introduced us after our third date. She was kind, seemed normal, asked the usual questions. Was she a little chatty from the wine? Sure she was, but it was Friday night; nothing to raise red flags. By night’s end, I believed we would have a fairly decent relationship. Let’s call it the foolishness of youth.

Effie owned a large, beautiful house (I dreamed of one day inheriting), 5 dogs, and 6 cats. Roughly five minutes from her home, she owned a barn with 4 horses. Like so many others, she too habitually mixed wine with Xanax. As we learned with Amy, that can be a dangerous combo.

The short time Crook still lived with Effie, I gave no thought to him caring for her animals. It made sense; she was older, single, and Crook was being a good son. The first red flag didn’t wave until we moved in together. We transported all our possessions into one home over the course of one very long, hard day. When we finally stopped, we spread a blanket on the floor, plugged in a tv, and laid back, exhausted. Within 10 minutes, Effie called.

“Hey Sweetie, you fed the horses today, right?”

“No, I told you I wouldn’t be able today… remember? We’ve been moving stuff all day, we literally just sat down for the first time.”

“You did not tell me! It’s already dark out, they must be starving! You gotta get over there!” Effie shrieked loudly enough for me to hear perfectly. I was not pleased but remained silent.

“Yes. I did. You’re only five minutes away. You could feed them and be home in less than 30 minutes. I’m over 30 minutes away, and I’d have to get gas. I’m sorry, but do you think you could please handle it?”

“Oh I really don’t feel good, not tonight. I’ll end up hurting myself trying to lift those heavy feed bags…” Effie whined.

It was a long, painful conversation to hear, but at the end, Crook lost. For what it’s worth, he didn’t ride horses, didn’t much care for them at all, but knew they wouldn’t eat if he didn’t acquiesce. Effie rode them a few times, but otherwise simply enjoyed the status of ownership. After returning home, Crook showed me texts he sent, informing her to make future arrangements for the horses. As it were, he could no longer make the drive on a routine basis. He did not receive a reply.

I’m sure most of you have guessed, but she called the next evening with the same question, “Have you fed the horses yet?” Each day they had the same argument with the same result.

I stopped being a good sport after the first day but stayed silent, too timid to rock the boat. That all changed when Effie upped the ante. She grew bold in her demands, adding the cats and dogs to her list.

“Are you serious? It’s bad enough I have to waste time and gas to care for the horses you have nothing to do with but won’t sell; now you want me to come to your house – while your there – so I can clean the litter, feed, and water 11 animals?!” Crook paced, furious. “Well, it’s too bad. I’ve already fed the horses, and I’m not getting back out tonight.”

It was a lie, he hadn’t fed the horses, but she would never know. Each day he still deluded himself into thinking it the last. Never once did he consider feeding them early, as if doing so could further encourage her behavior.

“I’m sorry I didn’t call sooner, but my back started hurting. I can’t handle the animals tonight, I need your help.” Effie cried, complaining of new aches and pains with each excuse Crook gave. She had two litter boxes, neither of which had been cleaned since we moved.

For almost three weeks, this new pattern continued. It evolved into Crook going straight to her house after work, making him 2-3 hours late getting home each night. We began fighting, both our limits stretched to the breaking point. Finally, he agreed to put his foot down. He didn’t have the balls to say a forceful “No!” but compromised by felling Effie we would be out of town for a week.

“I’m sorry, but we’re going to be over two hours away. If you can’t take care of your animals, maybe you should think about finding new homes for them.” Crook spoke kindly, but it didn’t matter.

Effie responded with shock and rage. The tears were instant, her cries deafening. “I can pay your gas. You could just wake up a little earlier and…”

“No! Do you hear yourself, do you know how crazy that sounds?!” He came close to losing his temper but reigned it in. “Please Mom, can you please take care of your animals for a week? I can’t handle this anymore, I need a break.”

We all needed a break. Effie pulled every emotional manipulation in the book, but Crook held strong. After an hour of being called an “ungrateful son whose abandoning his single mother and fur siblings to rot” she finally ended the call with, “Fine, I’m going to call you everyday to let you know everything is done… so if you haven’t heard from me by 6pm, something’s wrong.” She likes to hang up before you can respond. It’s her last line of defense; making poorly veiled insinuations something terrible is about to befall her and it’s your fault.

After no contact all week, she called us the morning we were due to return. “I’m alive, even though you clearly don’t care. I could have been dead and you wouldn’t know since you didn’t check on me once! My back is killing me now, I can’t move anymore. Feeding the horses and bending over that litter is just too much, I need your help. I haven’t eaten anything since breakfast yesterday because I can’t get out of my chair except to crawl to the bathroom.” She poured the guilt trips out like they were rehearsed, nary a breath taken.

Her act won her a visit from both of us. I don’t remember why, maybe we had to go somewhere before. Not only did we have to order, pay for, and deliver her food, the house reeked of litter left untouched for a week. I refused to participate in the chores on sheer principle. I almost ignored her when she called for me, but forced my feet to move anyway.

Seriously though, 6 cats, 2 litter boxes, 1 week, the smell. I know my fellow cat servants will all need a moment to shake it off, don’t worry, take your time. We’ll wait… * happy thoughts * … Okay, you good? Great.

She skipped the pleasantries and got straight to business, a trait I normally admire when it isn’t in lieu of delusional rants. “Can you believe he did that to me? Of all the ungrateful! I mean, the one time I need him. You have no idea how much I sacrificed for him! For him to just… I could have died!”

I resisted the urge to point out she was always in need. It was made easier by the fact she didn’t give me an opportunity to speak. She ranted for two hours while Crook tended her animals and cleaned. When he finally finished it was close to 8:00 and my happy place didn’t provide enough protection to stay any longer. Only severe Southern Hospitality Code of Ethics training held my feet in place and mouth closed as Effie tried to prevent us from leaving.

“Oh Honey, please don’t go. I’m afraid of being here alone in this big, old house. What if something happens and I can’t get to a phone? Please, why don’t y’all stay the night?” She cooed like a witch with a poisoned apple.

After another brazen display of emotional manipulation, Crook agreed. With a sad look and ‘what can you do’ shrug, he said “Just tonight.”

I can’t even. “That’s fine if you want to stay.” I smiled wide, careful to keep my voice non-threatening. “But we have animals and things to do at our house too. I’m going home, let me know if you want me to pick you up tomorrow.” I was already walking to the door, desperate to put distance between myself and Effie.

Fearing (correctly) Crook wouldn’t stay if I didn’t, she threw her Hail Mary. “You two should just move here! It makes so much sense! It’s a big house, plenty of room for my future grandkids, and think of all the money you’d save!”

Nothing raises my hackles faster than the threat of extra roommates. It was too much for my rookie, adult brain to handle. “There’s no way that’s happening. If you need any tips on how to handle your household, all you have to do is ask, but I can’t stay here any later. Crook are you coming or staying?”

That was the moment she started hating me, but it was worth it. Crook came home, and the confrontation won us a week of no contact. It seems a week was her max tolerance for accumulating litter.

Now we’re jumping ahead to the first time I went to work with Crook. If there are new readers today, I quit my job to travel with him because I was too codependent to be home alone for a week. Yes, I acknowledge the crazy, but this isn’t the post for dissecting my inability to cope with separation anxiety.

In the time we are skipping, Effie proved herself capable of caring for her animals when forced. For 6+ months, Crook’s drill site was only an hour away, but 12 hour shifts on top of the drive left little room for sleeping or eating. When all was said and done, he cared for the animals his week off, and Effie fended for herself when he worked. Did they try to con me into carrying the torch while he worked? You bet. Did I ever agree? No. Principles and all that.

Keeping in mind Crook still cared for her animals half the time, he proposed Effie care for our two cats while we were away. I had doubts. “I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with the idea of their litter not being cleaned for a week. She’ll say she did, but she still won’t scoop her own… no way she’s going to clean ours. Plus Gambit throws a fit if we’re even a few hours late, he’ll lose his mind if it’s a week!” I was baffled he couldn’t understand the certainty I felt.

Gordy is in front, Gambit in back. They’re old men in this picture, but they were babies at the time of this story.

“She really is getting better. It’s only one box for two cats, just let me talk to her. I promise, if I’m not 100% certain she’ll do it, we can call your parents.” Considering that a victory, I secretly sent my parents a few preemptive texts preparing them for the situation.

Unwilling to trust his “certain” faith in Effie, I listened to their conversation. It started worse than I expected. “Hey Ma, you got a sec? I wanted to talk to you about going to Nice City next week. We would need to leave Saturday and wouldn’t be back until Monday night, but…”

“Oh! That sounds lovely, but who would we get to take care of the horses?” Effie began listing prospects.

“No, wait! Mom, no, not you, us. I need you to feed our cats while we’re gone. You would only need to come once a day, Sunday-Sunday.” Crook explained carefully.

“I know that… I was just teasing. Gosh, you live pretty far to make that drive everyday… What do I get?” She giggled, playfully.

Crook clamped a hand over my mouth as I tried to scream into the phone. “I know it’s far, I have to do it all the time. Remember? I was hoping we could make it an even trade, you know? I do all your animals when we’re home, you do ours when we’re away.”

The silence was thick with tension, but it was my turn to prevent Crook from speaking hastily. By that time, I mastered the art to her manipulations. At first, her silence was genuine. I could hear her brain whirling, deciding what to wish for as she weighed the deed with our need, but she long ago settled that matter. Now the silence was her power. She imagined us sweating, eagerly awaiting her answer. As seconds ticked by she saw us turning worried, anxious, desperate. What else might we freely offer in that moment?

Well, I wasn’t a rookie anymore. We remained silent until finally, after I had to restrain Crook twice more, she sighed deeply, ensuring it was audible to us. “I mean. I guess. You seem determined to hold anything you do for me over my head, so fine. After I struggle my way through all your daily chores at the barn, I’ll drive all the way to your house.” She added a few sniffles for good measure.

“Thank you, I really appreciate it! Please don’t forget the litter, it’s super important, Mom. K-thanks-bye!“ I was genuinely proud of Crook. I didn’t believe Effie would do litter, but I honestly thought she would handle the food and water. We added a second litter box to help delay the inevitable, but Crook would do no more. He was certain she would really do it this time.

Noon Saturday, we settled into our hotel, pleased with the pictures from our scenic drive. While unpacking, we see Effie has text us the same message. “I’m not feeling well today, I’m going to the ER. If you don’t hear from me in a few hours, something bad happened.”

Checking the time, we see the text was sent over two hours ago. Do you see the genius in this? We had to play her game. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t know if she fed our cats. She was very much willing to bail if it suited her dramatic scene.

Crook called, but got voicemail. It wouldn’t be as dramatic if she answered. She wanted him assuming the worst. He tried a text, “How are you feeling?”

Receiving no immediate response, we find a place for lunch. Assuming she would call when satisfied with suspense level, we had a lovely day shopping followed by a nice dinner. Upon returning to our hotel that evening, we had not heard from her. I feared for our cats’ well-being more than hers. The likelihood of that day being the one she wasn’t crying wolf was too minuscule for even my bad luck.

Crook begins to legitimately worry for Effie which angers me further. Her charade was terrible for many reasons, but making your son believe you might be dead was plain cruel. I did my best to reassure him but had to contact my parents. I should have called sooner, but all I could do was not waste more time.

They were understandably annoyed at the late hour, otherwise agreed without fuss. After arriving at our house, they confirmed food bowls were empty. In attempt to comfort Crook, I hypothesized Effie may have fed the cats but wanted us to wonder. Learning she truly had concocted this charade to avoid the task rather than mere attention seeking angered me most. Thankfully, my parents volunteered to assume the weekly duties, ensuring the remaining days went smoothly.

Once I knew our cats were safe and comfortable, my rage faded quickly. I realized we were truly free. For one entire week, I would have no work, cleaning, responsibilities, or contact with Effie to dread. I was so happy, I shot off one last text. “Just wanted to let you know you’re off the hook. My parents took care of the cats and will continue to do so the rest of the week.” I thought it would give me great pleasure to ignore anything she may later reply.

She didn’t wait 10 minutes before calling. I answered, putting it on speaker for Crook to hear his healthy mother. “How dare you be worried about cats when I’m dying! Neither of you care about me at all! I’m pulling onto your street right now, but I guess I’ll turn around. Thanks for making me waste a trip for nothing!”

Taking advantage of her need to inhale, I interjected “How are you driving? I thought you were in the hospital… you know, dying?”

She hung up and we had no further contact until returning home the following Sunday. Against my wishes, Crook answered. Once again she felt bad and needed help with the animals. Also against my wishes, he agreed to go when she turned on the water works.

Do you think she cleaned her own litter boxes while we were away? If you do, you’re wrong. Her cats were finally fed up, they mutinied. Piss and shit were everywhere. The walls, floors, shoes, beds, you name it – covered! Crook cleaned it all. None of the animals had food or water. I’m grateful to my parents. Had our cats been in such a position, I would probably still be in jail.

Alright! It feels good to have those condensed into one. I’ll get the final section out soon. Hopefully in time to resume my struggle in trying to get another Halloween story out before my excuse to write scary stuff is gone for a year. Thank you all, and remember, be careful out there. Sometimes, they really are out to get you.

humor, life

Rain Showers

Hubby and I lived in our first apartment for 18 hellish months. By that time, I had a work bestie, Phoebe. I suggest imagining her as Phoebe from Friends, but if she drank heavily and popped pills. She was my age but dating a 45 year old creeper. It wasn’t a fling, last I heard they were still together. Phoebe stayed with Mike through several beatings and trips to rehab, but that all came later. At the time we’re discussing, they were 6 months into their relationship and living together.

Mike owned a double-wide 45 minutes outside of town. There was one gas station 15 minutes away, otherwise they were alone with a few scattered neighbors. His home sat between his grandmother’s and aunt’s, but Aunt (Dee) moved in with the granny when her husband died. He committed suicide five years prior after being fired, and his affairs were made public knowledge. He drove to a secluded area to shoot himself, but Dee never went into their house again. I can’t blame her there, but personally I wouldn’t have left my diary behind for anyone to find.

During a particularly bad rant to Phoebe, she told me about Dee’s situation. Apparently the 4 bed, 3 bath house needed cosmetic repairs, and was available for rent to anyone capable. Due to the work required, rent (water included) was only $300. Life in the country is cheaper in general, but to give you an idea of living costs in my hometown, the rent for our tiny crap-hole was considered cheap at $550.

Hubby and I were ecstatic, it was exactly the kind of work he does. We followed Phoebe and Mike there that evening. The money saved on rent would be more than enough to justify the extra gas cost. “Is… Is that a house or a trailer?” I asked Hubby as we pulled into the driveway.

“That would be a trailer with extra rooms built on each end.” He explained, slightly unsure. After a full walk around, he corrected, “It’s actually two trailers with two additions, none of which match.”

I know my maps aren’t fancy, but I swear this is completely accurate. The problem this time is the location and trashy owner, not my lack of art skills.

“They don’t expect you to do anything on the outside. There’s no leaks; structure, electrical, and plumbing are solid, but the rooms need to be cleaned and painted. They had pets inside, so they want to rip out the carpet and install linoleum, but that’s the worst of it” Mike reassured as he struggled to open the front door. If his assessment had been accurate, everything would have worked out fine.

“Are the utilities already on?” I asked, too entranced at the prospect of living far from Rob and Amy to be suspicious.

“No not yet, but she already started the process, they should be on by the end of the week.” Mike answered and lead us through the house.

The stench of carpet repeatedly soaked in urine and left to dry assaulted our senses upon entry. The woman was clearly a hoarder, it quickly became apparent why the extensions were done haphazardly. They built where they could when they needed more space. The living room, kitchen, one bedroom, and bath were free of clutter stacks, but the remaining rooms were so full you couldn’t enter. Look, I know this has more red flags than a date who casually mentions living with his mother, but that’s why I wrote Breakfast of Champions first. If you haven’t read it, you can’t follow the thought process through this decision.

Sure, the place looked and smelled bad, but at the time, I was working from home and Hubby did these kinds of repairs for a living. We figured we could be cozy in a week and clean the spare rooms at our leisure. The living room and kitchen alone were bigger than our entire apartment. Honestly, we already had our eyes on a few things. There were all sorts of buried treasures, including a loaded gun hidden in a curio cabinet, but that’s for another day.

We moved the following weekend when utilities were restored. The house was so filthy we asked friends and family for help, but we only got Amy. My parents came, but stressed me out so badly we let them leave. Amy was excited to come, she was fighting with Rob and packed for the weekend. It was better than no help at all, we were grateful.

After checking each appliance and faucet, we learned the fridge was broken, the kitchen had the only functioning sink, the washer didn’t spin, most outlets didn’t work, nor did the guest shower, and a dead rat floated in the toilet. Every second I suffered from Amy’s Xanax delusions were justified when she reached in, grabbed the rat’s tail, and dropped it into a trash bag. “Huh, that was gross.” She shrugged it off as if she were discussing inconvenient weather.

Mike delivered a new fridge, otherwise nothing else was repaired for the 6 months we stayed there. Hubby wears 4-5 outfits daily, we can’t go long without washing clothes. Desperate, I tried to clean them without spin cycle assistance. I rung out each item before throwing it into the dryer, but the best way to describe the resulting pain in my hands is wet-burn. Plus, drying heavily soaked clothing broke the dryer inside two weeks.

We learn fast, it didn’t take long to understand our landlady had no intentions of making the home livable. We delivered our first rent payment in person, believing we would make fast introductions, hand them money, and retreat. Standard procedure. Not for these ladies. Dee and her mother were lonely, chatty women. They insisted we come in to “set a spell.” Thats hillbilly for “we want you to sit and listen to us talk a few hours.”

Scared and nervous we entered the witch’s lair, and again, were immediately assaulted by the pungent oder of urine, but fresh this time. Imagine you’re in a movie theater wearing flip-flops. You know what it feels and sounds like walking on those floors? That’s exactly what their carpet was like. Yes, I said carpet. Let that sink in a moment. If I was going to be trapped anyway, I wanted the conversation to be beneficial. I gave her a list of our major issues, most importantly the plumbing.

“I think we need to address these items before we begin cosmetics. The house isn’t livable.” I wanted to be polite, we wanted this to work.

“Oh my, I don’t know what could have happened, everything worked perfectly when I lived there.” Dee reviewed my list. “But there’s no reason to wait, my son is a plumber and I’m sure he can find a washer real quick.”

It was hard to resist pointing out the last time she entered the home was seven years go, but I managed. “That sounds great, but we can’t wash clothes until then. If he can get it quickly, it shouldn’t hurt to wait. We (Hubby) go through clothes too fast to dirty more with house work. My parents live outside the opposite end of town, it’s almost an hour from here. That’s too far to take clothes every other day.” I made a conscious effort to maintain a smile.

“Ah, I see! Well that’s no problem at all. You can was clothes here while we wait on the new one.” Dee beamed proudly.

I would have worn each pair of underwear for a week before I did laundry in that house. They would smell worse leaving than going. As it is, we burned the clothes we wore inside this first day. I’m not joking. I would like to take a moment to apologize for the sins we committed against the environment, but I was raised in a place that doesn’t believe in science. I didn’t know better, I am truly sorry. They were old clothes anyway, so when the smell clung to us we threw them in the burn pile.

By Sunday afternoon, we filled five 42 gallon trash bags but had no clue what to do with them. We hadn’t made a dent in our closet, where we were surprised to find clothes piled floor to ceiling. No hangers or baskets, nothing folded, just clothes thrown in until it was full. “But wait! Can’t you donate the clothes to charity?” You ask. That was also my initial response. Unfortunately, it was soon apparent we found the rat queen’s nest.

The smell was our first warning sign, but tolerable by our new, lowered standards. Armed with rubber gloves and face masks, we initiated contact with the pile. Rat feces fell from each item we picked up. Some things were chewed and matted together, some were stiff as a board. When the first live rat fled from the pile, we changed tactics. Newly armed with shovels and rakes, we scooped clothes into heavy duty trash bags. Hopefully you now understand why I would be averse to have them in my car, especially for multiple trips. Burning them honestly seemed like our only choice.

When Amy left Monday, we considered our living spaces almost as good as it would get. We obviously couldn’t waste money fixing the house, but we ripped out the carpets for our health and sanity. Once the living room and bedroom were clear, we saw there were very few places not permanently piss-stained. The thought of walking on it everyday was unsettling to say the least. Are you familiar with the felt paper used underneath shingles?

This stuff, it’s like thick construction paper.

Far from glamorous, but we had tons of the stuff and it put something clean under our feet. After the first two months, we adjusted to our new routines. We learned to brush our teeth in the kitchen, took five minute showers, and never left the safety of our living areas. It was around this time, the complaints about plumbing got serious. We accepted we would never have faucets or the other bathrooms functioning, but Hubby found a leak under our good bathroom. That scared us. If it stopped working, we were beyond screwed. I do not ‘pop squats’ no ma’am.

Every day for weeks I sent messages to Dee and Phoebe, “We have a leak, I’m really worried about it.” I understood they weren’t capable of concern for our general well-being, so I decided to appeal to their needs adding, “I’m mainly concerned because of your water bill. I’ve seen leaks cost several hundred to the water company alone.” That one always earned me a response, but not one I wanted.

“Oh goodness me! My son is a plumber, I can ask him to fix it. Can you maybe just fill up a couple buckets to flush and wash with, then you can cut the water off?” Dee suggested this as if it weren’t the same son who was supposed to provide a new washer. I was skeptical.

We tried it for a few days, but the shutoff valve was ridiculously hard to access, and when days turned to weeks we were beyond our limits with Dee. Each time I spoke to her she behaved as if it were the first time. At the end of the first week she let slip, “My son is a plumber, I can call him to come fix it!”

“You said that last week, have you still not called anyone?!” My calm facade fell momentarily, but I struggled to regain it in her awkward silence.

Finally, she said “I did. I did… but he was busy, maybe he forgot. I’ll call again right now.” It was the first time she ended a conversation voluntarily.

As I’m sure you can all guess, this continued until they received a $400 water bill. Dee called crying, sucking snot back every few words. “What… what happened?!” I thought… but you said you could keep the water off. You… you said… you didn’t mind!”

I never cared for her poor me act to begin with and now she pushed me far past caring about etiquette. “Never once did I say we didn’t mind, I said it was doable for a few days! That was over two weeks ago!”

“I… I’ll call my son… he’s… a plumber.” Dee hung up, but she didn’t call her son, she called Mike.

A few minutes later, Mike knocked on our door, a sheepish Phoebe standing behind him. I knew what was coming. “Ah, let me guess, you heard about the water.”

“Yea, look. We really need to work something out. You have to see it’s unfair to tell her about a major leak and decide to turn the water back on when she can’t get it done the next day.” Mike tried to hand me the water bill, but too many things pushed my rage past the limit of control. I’ll leave out my curses, they’re unbecoming.

He was use to commanding fear and respect from Phoebe and the two old biddies he cared for, he forgot you can’t treat other people that way. I was already in defense mode before he tried to bow up in my front door to push that cray on me. I ignored his outstretched hand completely, and looked past him to Phoebe. “Do I need to show him the texts and calls from the last several weeks or do you want to explain it to him? Because the way we’ve been living it’s not going to be pretty if I have to relive a play-by-play.”

Phoebe tugged his shirt sleeve, “She really has. Non-stop. I told you.”

The look on Mike’s face said it all. Dee called him crying her pity story, he wanted her to leave him alone, so he believed her hogwash without an ounce of thought. Caveman then decided he would bully his way through like he did with everything else. It was only a few weeks until the water was shut off completely. Dee claimed she couldn’t afford a plumber or water bills. She invited us to use her facilities, but if you’ve been paying attention, you know that wasn’t a valid option. Instead we drove to mooch water from family.

Life wasn’t too terrible. It was genuinely better than dealing with Rob and Amy until Hubby had a wreck. We were less than a week into living without water when a car came into his lane. I’m thankful he wasn’t seriously injured, but our only car was totaled. I don’t want to go on a tangent about the wreck, but it took almost 3 months to receive our insurance money, and we were too young for a rental. Once a week, my parents drove us for groceries, otherwise we were stranded. It was kind of fun at first. Hubby couldn’t take jobs, and winter was an incredibly slow time of year for a porch building company. I took a few short phone calls a day, but the rest of our time was spent popping Adderall, smoking weed, and watching tv.

We could cook and brush our teeth with store bought water, that was never a problem when we had so many larger challenges to face. Washing clothes had us stumped, but we worked out a routine of washing at Phoebe’s every Friday while they bar hopped. We grew to look forward to those nights. We were able to have a real shower and toilet. Some of you may be wondering why we didn’t visit regularly, but we just aren’t those people. Maybe if it were only Phoebe, but we hated Mike and I have a super weird thing about potty etiquette.

The first two days without water, we became desperate enough to use each toilet regardless of flush capabilities. Unfortunately, that put us over the max waste limit one can tolerate in their home, and we were forced to find alternatives. Hubby peed outside freely, but to my great despair, I too was forced to pop the squats. Alas, this did nothing to help with pooping. How campers and hunters use bushes I’ll never understand, but Hubby tried walking into the woods on Day 3. He returned covered in poison ivy and red-bug bites. So, what do do?

Well, it turns out, if you take a 40qt pot, and hook a few Walmart bag handles over the pot handles, you’re off to a good start. No matter what, don’t forget to hook those handles. Learn from our mistake, you don’t want to clean your own. Then you need four 4×4 cut offs taller than your pot, 6 inches is ideal. This requires a flat, even surface, and it helps if your willing to put a few screws in the floor. We were. Again, not something you want to learn the hard way. Once you have your base, you need to two more (preferably decking size) boards to lay across the top. Now you have a redneck toilet. It doesn’t flush, and you have to change the bag after each use, but it kept us pooping indoors.

The sad part is, once that’s resolved you have to figure out what to do with the bags. Obviously we couldn’t burn them as we had other trash, no one picked up garbage this far out of town, we were baffled. Then we noticed the shed in our backyard. We were use to ignoring it after our first look, when we moved in we saw it was full of garbage and smelled of mold. “You think that would work?” I asked Hubby as we shared a knowing glance.

“I think it’ll have to, let’s check it out.” He carefully approached the shed with a shovel, using the spade to swing the broken door ajar. It couldn’t latch, but it closed far enough to get the job done. The shed appeared to be Dee’s first hoarding victim. We honestly believed if (big if) anyone ever discovered our shame, it would be years away with no reason to suspect it wasn’t Dee herself. Hoarders save all sorts of weird stuff after-all.

Pooping quickly became the worst part of each day, but when the shed could hold no more, we were forced to hike into the woods. We found a deep gully to throw our bags into, but ignoring the fact we had to add a lengthy walk to our waste disposal routine, it felt deeply wrong. It’s the one routine I couldn’t adjust to. As the weeks progressed, with no end in sight, we sank deeper into depression. While we only had to suffer the poo routine in the morning, other challenges faced us through each day.

We may have showered every Friday, but we couldn’t go more than a day without feeling gross. Bird baths with store water were a waste of time and resources, but it’s what we did most often. The first time it rained was on Day 5. “It’s raining hard enough to shower outside, do you want to try?” Hubby suggested, already collecting soap and shampoo.

“Yea, I think I do.” I was excited at the idea. I enjoyed playing in the rain, and this gave me a valid reason.

We don’t have snow here, our winters rarely have truly cold days, but apparently standing in the rain will make all the difference. As soon as we stepped into the open, rain hit us hard and cold, it felt like someone knocked the air out of me. Hubby was able to last almost five minutes for a complete scrub down, but I only managed to wash my hair. We felt better than we had in days regardless. We showered every time it rained for the entire 8 weeks.

The first time rent was due after losing water, I refused to pay. Dee was furious, but I wouldn’t budge. “No! We’ve been living without water for over three weeks, and no, we are not comfortable using yours. Even if we were that wouldn’t make this ok.” I was no longer trying to be polite. Those days were long gone.

“But I need rent money to pay for the water. You can’t have water until you pay rent!” She demanded as if she cut the water off as leverage.

“If I thought there was any truth to that at all, I would pay it just because that’s how desperate we are, but I know full well that’s not where the money will go. You had our money and several weeks before the first water bill, but you did nothing.” I was shaking with fury.

When Dee resorted to calling us con-artists and refused to discuss water further, I hung up mid rant. A few minutes later she realized I was no longer on the phone and tried to call back. I ignored the calls, well out of patience for the day. The biggest surprise of all came the following day. With no forewarning, a man resembling a dirty, redneck Santa knocked on our door.

He introduced himself as Dee’s son-in-law, and was not a plumber but explained, “She won’t leave me alone about it. I done told her over and over this place needs to be tore down, but she just don’t wanna hear it. I came by today just to shut her up. You all need to get outta here ASAP, she ain’t got no money, and if she did she’d just spend it on stupid shit from the tv.”

I thanked the man for his honesty and blocked Dee’s numbers. We already planned to run for it when the insurance money came, but I decided there was no point to suffer through any further contact with her. There was no fear of her coming in person, she wouldn’t even pull into the driveway. After having her blocked several days, she sent Mike in her stead.

Lucky for him, he arrived with a vastly different attitude. He apologized profusely, told us to continue ignoring Dee, and reminded us we could use their facilities anytime. It was all very amicable in their regard, but I’m sure he used a different act when reporting back to Dee. I didn’t care in the least as long as we had no contact with her. When the insurance money finally came through, we bought an Avenger and moved to a nice 2 bed 2 bath apartment in town. It was a wonderful, glorious home.

A few weeks after the move, Phoebe informed me Dee hired a lawyer and intended to sue us. She and Mike were present during the lawyer’s visit, and the conversation was phenomenal.

“Not only did they refuse to pay rent, they stole from me! I want all my rent money, my stuff, and then something for all the emotional distress they put me through. They lived there for 6 months!” Dee ranted at the lawyer.

“Well we can probably get the rent money, but pending what they did with the stolen items… what all did they take? Do you have a copy of your renters contract?” The lawyer asked, pausing to look up from his notes.

“We didn’t do no contract, but they robbed me blind! I’ll have to make you a list, we gotta get in there and look, but my beautiful glass cabinet is gone!”

“You didn’t have any contract? That’s going to make recovering rent very difficult if not impossible. What other big items were taken? Did any of you see them take it? What’s our proof?” The lawyer put his notes away, already suspicious of his “easy paycheck” Dee described over the phone.

“I told you, I gotta get in there and see, I don’t know what else yet! Of course they didn’t take it when we was looking! They ain’t gonna admit to it, they saying they never took nothing! Liars! Liars and thieves!”

With a deep sigh, the lawyer asked, “Well why wouldn’t they pay rent? Did they give a reason? They just didn’t have it, or what?”

“They said they wasn’t gonna pay till I fixed the water, but that’s bullshit! They wasn’t supposed to be using it!” Now fully exasperated, the lawyer asked, “Wait. Are you saying that house doesn’t have water?!”

“Course it did. They had water till they ran up a $400 bill and got it turned off.” Dee snapped.

Mike, tired of the conversation, sped things over the finish line. “Look, they paid rent on time every month until the water was cut off. Aunt Dee did the water in her own name, it was suppose to be included in the rent.”

Dee looked at Mike with black hatred, but the lawyer spoke first. “I think I’ve heard enough. Ma’am , if they decide sue you, give me a call. Otherwise you need to thank your lucky stars and leave those folks alone.

And that friends, was how Dee left our lives for good. You have to be very careful when house shopping. Whether it’s to rent or own, always do your homework. I’m glad I finally got to write this one. We didn’t have time to cover all the good stories from living there, but the water incident was easily the most difficult. Next up, I’ve decided to make my 50th post the Halloween Special! I hope to post it in the next few days, until then stay safe and suspicious. Remember, the paranoid ones survive horror movies longest.

humor, life

Breakfast of Champions

I’ve decided to tell you about my first apartment with Hubby. It’s necessary information if I want to tell you the living without water situation. As promised, I don’t write romance gush, nor do we have time if I want to cover the best drama from our first apartment. The point to this post is to accurately convey how desperate we were to move away from that place. By the time we are finished here, that will be abundantly clear, but first I must ask your indulgence as I lead you there properly.

To begin this story, let’s go over how Hubby and I met. I have one cousin on Mom’s side, Rob, who is 7 years older. Our grandmother watched us as children, and Rob hated my annoying ass. Rightfully so, I was terrible. As we grew, Rob moved away to live his life as a waiter. The fancy kind, he worked at places celebrities ate, Britney Spears among others. Years passed, I grew, broke up with Crook, and landed back at my parent’s house, Rob’s taunts largely forgotten.

Dad came home one evening, and handed me a scrap of paper with a phone number. “What’s this suppose to be?” Dad still believed I wanted to socialize. You have to stay on your toes with that one.

“I ran into Rob at the gas station. He moved back and wanted to see you… but he looked kinda rough. I didn’t want to give him your number so I got his. You can talk to him if you want, but be careful, he sounded drunk.” Dad warned, hoping I didn’t want to call. Interesting change of pace.

Unfortunately, my memories were deleted so long ago, I forgot they were missing (how’s that for a mind-fuck). Any inkling I did have was chalked to, of course he was mean, do you remember how annoying we were? The fact he never physically hurt us says he’s practically a saint. “Really?! He asked for me? Wants to see me? Wants me to call?”

Dad’s shoulders slumped in my excitement. “Well, yea, but maybe you should start off with a few conversations before you go meeting up with him. We don’t know wh… where are you going?” He called after me as I ran to my room.

“Don’t worry, I got it. Thanks!” Silly Dad, Rob knows how to handle drugs. Rob is my super cool big cousin, I bet he’ll smoke with me. I can’t wait to show him how grown I am.

I took several deep breaths, rehearsed a few opening pleasantries, and dialed his number. He answered almost immediately. “Hey Big Cousin! Dad just gave me your number, you’re back home?” Damnit, you’re blowing this. Calm down, be cool.

“Sup, Lil Cuz? Glad you called, we need to meet up. Start hanging out and shit.” Rob said casually, proving he was still the modern Fonzie I believed him to be.

This is the best mental image you can have. Me idolizing Rob’s existence, he completely unaware of my presence.

“Yea! Totally! Where you staying? Whatcha doing tonight?” Stupid! Don’t say tonight, could you be more needy?! I couldn’t help myself. I assumed Rob would have his own place. Possibly one with a spare room. Any room not in my parent’s house would be a welcome upgrade.

“I’m staying with MawMaw (except he uses her first name, so cool) for now, it’s better than living with Dad. I’m about to get an apartment though. My fiancé is pregnant and we want to get a place ready for the baby.” He said these things without a hint of shame, but my hopes were stomped further into the ground with each sentence.

MawMaw?! No, not her! I can’t go over there! Pregnant? Even if he had a mansion I can’t live with a baby! Pregnant woman is probably just as bad. Don’t hate me too much for the thought. The only thing I knew of pregnant women was tv portrayed them as extremely emotional. They were either angry, sad, hungry, or a combination of the three. “Oh, that’s neat.” I couldn’t think of anything more to say, I turned on auto pilot and went to my happy place.

“Yea, I want you to meet Amy. What you got planned for tonight? We could come over, her and MawMaw hate each other so she won’t come here.” The casual manner in which he informed me of one red flag after another made me nervous.

“Um, I was just going to Cody’s house, you could come there.” Most of you probably haven’t read How I Met My Mother, but we don’t have time for a recap. An aunt raised me for a few years, and her oldest son, who I just decided to call Cody, is a year younger. We were always close, and he was living alone in the house we grew up in. If it weren’t next to his father’s parents, I would have lived there too. Ok? Moving on.

“Cool, text me the address, we’ll see you later.” The call ended. I snapped out of auto pilot and got to work on Cody.

Thankful I retained enough sense not invite a stranger to our house, I called Cody. As always, he was game for anything perceived as a chance to show off. One day I do intend to talk about Cody at length, he has a tragic story, but without his background you may be tempted to judge him unfairly. For that reason, I will not include the multitude of annoying behaviors he exhibited this night. Don’t worry, nothing he did registers on his Cray Scale, you aren’t missing anything important.

Rob and Amy arrived an hour after myself, and as promised, he looked a little rough. Maybe if I hadn’t been in prove Dad wrong mode, I could have accepted it sooner, but Rob became his father. He was a full-blown alcoholic, probably still is; we haven’t spoken in a few years. He introduced us to Amy, and we all shared a fairly pleasant evening. I theorized winning Amy’s approval would ensure continued contact with Rob. I’ll leave it to you guys to classify results of said theory. It’s laughable how largely she impacted my future. Before I say things to make you hate Amy, know that she has been off Xanax several years, and I love her very much.

“So you were Crook’s girlfriend? That’s crazy, yea I know him. He went to our school, he was in Jessie’s (older sister) grade. You know, you should meet my little brother. You two have so much in common it’s kind of creepy.” Amy warmed to me quickly. I thought she wanted to befriend her fiancé’s cousin, and I’m sure that was a factor at first, but she wasn’t lying. Amy is Hubby’s sister, we indeed have much in common.

Hubby and I met the next night. We sat in his apartment with Amy and Rob, silently, both too shy to speak.

“Alright y’all, this is ridiculous, we tried to let you do it yourselves, but it’s been over an hour.” Amy stood, arms flailing in her annoyance. A quick glance at Hubby revealed he too, was mortified. I felt slight relief from terror induced chest pains as I watched another potential relationship go up in smoke. Then Amy continued, exasperated this time, “So. Whose read Harry Potter.” And with a deep sigh, she returned to her seat.

The spell was broken as Hubby and I both began our detailed analysis of the series. Our motto became ‘you had me at Harry’ and the rest is history. Now, let me tell you about Hubby’s apartment. I made you two maps this time!

It’s one big house divided into 4 apartments. We will discuss the interpersonal relationships with the downstairs folk at a later date, but it’s a cuckoo nest of cray.
This is our floor plan, next door mirrors it. Our closets shared a wall, bathrooms, etc.

As you see, there is only one bedroom and it must be crossed to reach the bathroom or kitchen. This made the fact Hubby had a roommate with a live-in girlfriend very uncomfortable. That situation in itself is a very long, complicated ordeal, but two months into our relationship, the roommate stole rent and fled the state. While it created a difficult hurdle, it was well worth having the place to ourselves. Since it does not relate to why we had to move, we will save my ex brother-in-law’s story for later. Remember, it’s the South. We’re all related.

Now we finally arrive to the good stuff. Oh where to start with Rob and Amy? Let’s pick up after the baby is born and taken by an aunt, some may find Cousin-Nephew’s situation upsetting, and that isn’t where your focus should be. From this point forward, understand the wall between apartments is paper-thin. Only poor, desperate people live there, and most (like Amy) were without jobs or transportation. Hubby and I shared my car, and Rob lost his shortly after I moved in. Please enjoy the following examples of what life is like when you live next to a cousin and sister addicted to Xanax, pain pills, and alcohol.

Each morning I worked, I woke at 8 to be at Giddy Up by 9. I learned to dress quickly and quietly, grinch-walk to my car, and never ever look around. I stopped showering before work, but sometimes even these precautions weren’t enough. Descending the steps outside, I hear Amy’s door open. She calls my name, but I keep running. I hear her footsteps cross the porch, chasing me. I reverse onto the street, sweating, staring straight ahead. Please make it, please make it, I don’t have time. Then she is standing in the center of the road, blocking any chance of passing.

“Hey! I was screaming your name the whole way down! How did you not hear me?” The way she continued pulling on the locked door told me her Breakfast of Champions was kicking in nicely. I unlocked the door on her 5th try, anger burning through me.

“I don’t have time for this Amy, I’m going to be late for work.” I said through gritted teeth, knowing it was pointless.

“Yea you do, I just want McDonald’s. You don’t have to be there until 9, and it’s only going to take 4 to get there, and…” I went to my happy place as she continued to account for each minute leading to 8:56 when I would arrive 4 minutes early.

I was already at the first stop sign, anxious to get her out of my car. I knew it was pointless to communicate when she was this far gone, but that day she insisted on asking questions instead of her usual scattered chatter. “Thank you for taking me. I’m so hungry, but Rob ate all my groceries last night. Do you want a breakfast biscuit or something? I have enough.” She offered, showing me a handful of ones, most likely Rob’s tips from the night before.

“No, I’m fine, thanks.” I tried to be polite, all I wanted was to get her out of my car.

“Oh. Ok. I can’t believe Rob ate all those groceries last night. You know, I get $500 in food stamps every month and we just spent over $200 a few nights ago. Hey! Thanks for taking me, I’m so hungry. Do you want something? I can get you like, a breakfast biscuit or something!” She excitedly showed me the ones again.

“Nah, I’m really good. We get breakfast at work.” I answered, then decided to add “I get there early so I have time to eat.”

She didn’t catch my sarcasm. “Rob was so hungry last night! After work, a busboy smoked some really good weed with him. It gave him the munchies so bad, he ate all our groceries, it was insane. But now I woke up starving and there’s nothing to eat. Thank you so much for taking me. Oh! Hey, do you want something? I got plenty of money!” Once again she held the ones out like an offering.

I doubt you want to read the other repeats anymore than I want to type them, but there were at least 3 more. When we pulled into the parking lot, there were 7 cars in front of us. The ride was so terrible, I counted them several times. I took her money next time she held it out, placing it on the dashboard clearly in her view. I hoped it would help her retain our discussion, but it didn’t. In the end, she ordered two drinks and six sausage biscuits. “I can eat two at once, but I want something to heat up later since Rob has a double shift and you work til 6:00.” She reasoned as if she weren’t simultaneously informing me I was her dinner plan.

I didn’t feel the need to respond to her statement, but I think she was fishing for confirmation I would be home on time. After her longest stretch of silence, she tried again as she swallowed her first bite of food. “Oh my god, this is so good, I needed this so bad, you have no idea.” I had a pretty good idea considering how long she talked. “Thank you so much for taking me, I was really scared I was gonna miss you when you didn’t hear me on the balcony. They’re so good. You want a biscuit? ” She asked, one hand under her chin to catch the falling food as she talked.

“I’m seriously good dude, I just want to get to work.” I was having a hard time controlling my anger at that point. If I turned up the music, she screamed over it. If I tried to talk, she cut me off before I finished a sentence. If I ignored her, she repeated herself louder with each attempt. I was only one stop sign away from home when I snapped.

“I can’t believe I ate a whole biscuit before we got home, I…” I was in another world, focused on surviving the last few minutes when I felt her hand on my shoulder. “Did you hear me? I said thank you for taking me you’re such a life saver. Hey! Do you want a biscuit?”

We were right there, but the word vomit spewed forth so suddenly there was no stopping it. “Fine, yea I’ll take a damn biscuit, Amy.” I held my hand out with every intention of throwing it to the backseat in spite, but it never came.

When I looked at Amy, her jaw was dropped, eyes wide in shock or terror, maybe disgust. She looked from the food to me, back to the food, speechless. I mean mugged her right back until she finally spoke. “Oh. Well. It’s just that I asked you before I ordered and you said no… I ordered a specific number, why wouldn’t you say you wanted one then?”

Guys, snap doesn’t come close to describing what I did. As she finished speaking, I was giving the gas pedal an extra push to get us across the finish line. We flew into the driveway, I slammed on the breaks throwing Amy forward, and put it in park dramatically. Before she could move, I was screaming, “are you joking. The hell is wrong with you? I don’t want your damn biscuit! I told you no! No, no, no, no, no, no. All the way there after you chased me down! All the way home while you rambled on, I said no! I said no over and over and finally I said yes hoping it would shut you up! I don’t care you don’t wanna give me a biscuit, I care you apparently remember asking the other times! So why the hell would you keep asking?!” I started choking on my words at the end, regaining enough control to close my mouth.

“Wow, I was trying to be polite, it’s called manners, maybe you should try it sometime.” The anger I felt throbbed in my chest. Amy looked at me as if I were a worm and got out. She forgot our altercation before they finished eating and it was never mentioned again.

After work, I visited with a friend to avoid going home. I didn’t feel like immediately taking Amy for more food, but if I waited for Rob leave work, he would bring her leftovers. Another infuriating habit she developed was to snub me if I didn’t do as she wished the second she wished it. She enjoyed walking into our apartment without knocking to ask Hubby, “can you drive me to the store for this sob story reason?” while refusing to acknowledge my presence. Somehow she thought it acceptable to have her brother chauffeur her in my car.

Rob and Amy fought daily and sought refuge in our apartment when they separated. It’s hard to say which one was harder to deal with, but Rob was violent so I’ll say he was worse. When they fought in earnest, they could be heard through the wall. Pending our mood, sometimes we were nosy enough to listen. Our favorite fight happened on a rainy, fall afternoon. Hubby and I were enjoying a day off when we heard the familiar sound of objects hitting the wall. Having just smoked, we muted the tv, curious.

“Why are you such a bitch! I’m so sick of it! You did it on purpose I know you did!” Rob was screaming, glass shattered against the wall, making us jump in surprise.

“I’m sorry! I wasn’t thinking, I swear it wasn’t on purpose.” Amy cried. I could picture her retreating into the bedroom as she became harder to hear.

“No! Don’t you dare use that excuse again! You say that every damn time, I’m done! Do you hear me?” Rob yelled louder, the objects he threw sounded larger, and we were dying to know what she could have done. Our guess was taking some of his pills, but we were wrong.

“No, I swear, I’m sorry, but they really are accidents. It’s really hard to remember I can’t fart.” It may be the most pathetic sentence I ever heard. Hubby and I stared at each other frozen, dumbfounded, wondering if she could be joking, but deep down knowing she wasn’t.

Rob’s voice cracked saying, “shut up! You ruin all my shit” and fell silent when he heard the walls roaring with laughter.

We rolled on the ground, tears spilling from our eyes as we heard Rob’s curses walk out his door and down the steps. He walked away, drunk and embarrassed while Amy joined in our laughter. She explained Rob was allowed to fart anywhere, it’s ok for men, but women should go to the bathroom. “What’s up with that? Is it something you grew up with?” She asked me.

“No! I don’t know where he got that bowl of crazy, could be one of Uncle’s loose screws.” I shrugged, trying to control my giggles. Rob sounded like she cheated on him, but no, she farted.

I know this is getting long, I’m sorry, let’s do one more then we can call it a day. It took a while, but I finally taught Hubby to keep the door locked. He had an occasional lapse, but after this night, he never forgot again. We lived together almost a year when we woke to someone trying to break down our door. It was 2:30AM, and we had no guns. We relaxed when the sounds of an attempted break in turned to banging on our living room wall. It was Rob or Amy seeking another mediation.

“They muse be really messed up to go this far. We are not engaging with this bullshit. They’re not going to learn they can get our attention with this kind of behavior.” I angrily informed Hubby. He shoved his head under a pillow, waiting for the end. I watched as our phones began to ring in concert with hard knocks against our bedroom wall.

I didn’t disturb Hubby until his mom began calling. We knew better than to answer, but we did read her texts as we sat quietly in the darkness, pretending to sleep. Apparently the cops were outside. This time, when Rob burned Amy with his cigarette, she wasn’t in the mood to put up with it. She ran to the bathroom, and Rob chased her. With her eyes closed, she grabbed the blow dryer cord and swung. The dryer caught him in in the jaw, cutting his cheek, so he called the police on her.

These officers responded to their fights almost weekly, and while they didn’t care for Amy’s refusal to press charges time and again, they weren’t eager to do Rob any favors either. Amy decided she could make us write witness statements claiming Rob hurt himself, but in the end the cops were out of patience. They offered a choice between both being arrested, or shutting up. They shut up.

The next morning, the fight promptly resumed when they heard us return from breakfast. They followed into our apartment, yelling their stories, angry with us for not getting involved. I ate silently, refusing to acknowledge either until Rob knocked my burger from my hand. “Hey! You better listen up Lil Cuz, that shit don’t fly with me.” I watched my burger fall to the floor, ruined as he rambled his nonsense. The room fell silent, whether actual or rage induced, I’ll never know.

All my rage from the last year finally boiled over. I fell into a magical zone of awareness where time slowed, all fear gone; I was confident, unstoppable, and pissed off. I stared at Rob’s finger, pointing at me, shaking, and grabbed it with my left hand. I snapped it sideways with an audible pop as I punched his still moving lips with my right. Rob’s head snapped sideways, a drop of blood appeared at the corner of his mouth, and his finger yanked from my grasp. I felt a new surge of rage as his eyes, full of hatred, came back to meet my gaze. I punched him again, this time in that wide, accusing eye. It was black the next day.

To Hubby’s credit, he moved quickest in the after-shock. He got between us as Rob prepared to overpower me, which I’m sure he would have done quickly given the chance. “You need to go now, you went too far.” Hubby told him. Amy came to stand next to me as we waited to see how Rob would respond.

“You tripping bro, that bitch just assaulted me! You’re about to go to jail, bitch! You under…” Rob’s spit was showering us, I couldn’t take another second. I wasn’t cut out for handling that level of crazy, I can barely control my own crazy on a good day, and this bastard wanted to play? Oh I played.

I screamed. In the middle of his little threat, I wailed like a murder victim. When I saw his mouth stay shut, I spoke. Everyone uncovered their ears as I said, “you won’t do shit, you have a record, and the cops hate you. Me and Hubby have never been in trouble, so tell me, do you think they’re going to believe the three of us, or you? I mean when I call to say we heard you beating Amy through the wall so I hit you? Look, my knuckle is bleeding, it’s obvious I did it. Do you think they’ll laugh when they hear your little cousin beat you up?” I spit my words like venom, almost hoping he called my bluff, but Amy broke the silence first.

“If you don’t leave now, I’ll let her hit me next and we’re all gonna tell her story. I bet it plays nicely when my face has the bruises to match.” I thought it was genius, but after another pause, Rob left. He cursed us the whole way down the street, but didn’t come back until the next day. As always, he was sober and sorry, but I was no longer disillusioned. It would be another six months before we got out, but this was the worst we dealt with while living there. Rob and Amy eventually moved into a better apartment, but their breakup story is another long ordeal that will need it’s own post. I suppose it’s comforting to know I won’t run out of material anytime soon.

Thank you all for re-living this experience with me. Each time someone enjoys a story it makes every crazy moment I endured worth while. Blogging has been fun and therapeutic, but I wouldn’t have made it this far without all you, dear readers. I change hobbies as often as normal people change clothes, the fact I’m over the two month mark with no sign of getting bored is truly astounding. I’m now fully nested and have every intention of staying that way. I purchased my domain, I read that’s a step bloggers take when deciding to get serious. I have no idea how to use it, but that’s why Bestie married a computer engineer. I’m sure he’ll get around to helping. Probably. Maybe I can look into a ‘coming soon’ thing until then.