There was a demolition notice on the front plywood. There wasn't any front door. When I showed the pictures of the house to my dearest friends, they put a hand firmly on each of my shoulders, looked into my eyes, and said, "We love Bill. But no man is worth this. No man."
We arrived. I in the van with the dogs and Bill in the car, pulling a u-Haul trailer. We set me up in the unfinished studio/gallery addition. A mattress on the floor for my bed, and the dog crates stacked and draped to make a 'wall' for privacy. Bill cleverly discovered that if you stuck a flashlight in the hole for the future doorknob in the powder room door you could have privacy and light. Only the light would shine right in your eyes as you sat, since the toilet is opposite the door.
Bill got ready to leave. We were repacking him and unpacking me. Since there were no tables, shelves, closets, or laundry room, things were in tidy little piles, temporarily. The Mayor stopped by after church to welcome us to Paducah. He is a great good sport. We looked, well, remember: no shower, no mirror, no closet to hang clothes - you get the picture. It wasn't pretty. But the Mayor and the Head of City Planning shook our hands and gave us a warm Southern howdy do. I looked down. One of the good Mayor's feet was placed smack on my bra, and the other on Bill's tighty whiteys.
Oh dear God. Don't look down! Don't look down! Please don't look down!
Sam I Am was the world's most adorable thirteen week old puppy. He wandered over to Mr. Mayor.
Don't look down! Ignore the world's most adorable puppy!
"Oh look at this cute little guy," said the Mayor, looking down.
I was sweating in parts of my body which should be incapable of producing sweat. I thrust my pasty palm to the Mayor, thanking him for stopping by. "We better get Bill on the road. He's got a fifteen hour drive ahead of him. So nice of you to come."
There was no fence. I had nine dogs who were used to having a two acre fenced yard right out their living room door, chock full of country squirrels for the dogs' murderous pleasures. And the gallery door was glass, affording them a constant view of stupid city squirrels. I took them out in groups of three to do their business. And I walked them.
The locals thought I was nuts on so many levels. Why would anyone move into that wreck of a house? In fact, when we tried to get the first appraisal for the building loan, the appraiser was stumped. His report said that if we invested the amount of money it would take to make the building habitable, given the location the house would never be worth that amount. We found another appraiser. I walked the dogs, three at a time, three times a day. Folks thought I was walking the same three skinny dogs to death! But they were used to free runs in our neighbor's 450 acres of farm land that surrounded our little farm. Used to that big yard for long games of tag and squirrel massacres. I felt so bad for them.
On the second night alone, at midnight, sweet old Caruso whined. He was no false alarmer. I put his lead on, only to have the rest of the crew jump up and cry, "Me too!" I was too tired to consider the notion of three trips outside in the scary dark, so I leashed up all nine. "Come on. We're having a quick pee. That's it."
I opened the door and out we went. There was a drunk leaning on the stop sign. I had been a country girl my whole life, so that was a concern. My city friends would say things like 'harmless drunk' but I would lean more to 'brutal rapist' in my mind. But before I could work myself up into a blind panic, I was floating in the air. Had I been shot? Was I dead, winging my way to my Creator?
No. There were two opossums at the base of the oak tree across the street. (Perhaps bereaved kin to the floaters in the basement.) I was flying, whippet speed (zero to 30 in under two seconds) toward the quarry. I forgot all about the drunk, who no doubt entered rehab the next morning, after seeing a vision of a middle aged woman in jammies flying out of some construction project, propelled by a whole herd of ghost skinny dogs! I finally got the dogs back into the studio and used the flashlight to wash all the road rash I had sustained. The studio utility sink worked fine. The dogs forgot that they ever had to pee.
I thought, "What have I gotten into?"
to be continued
hug your hounds