What’s In a House
Watching the old wooden oak floor, even in its current condition, being cut up for firewood, was painful, but at the time Sarge had not been able to come up with a strong enough reason to not yank the narrow floor boards out of the abandoned house that could trump the general thinking of the Watch and the other men. Yet it had been easy to get their attention about how to safely and carefully collect the copper wiring, pipes, window glass and other items that could be used immediately for making minor house repairs.
At first he hadn’t been too sure about Anton’s ideas for organizing a group scavenging effort in order to get whatever they could use for extending the walkway from the abandoned house and then exploring what might be used to meet other minor needs. But after a few minutes in the midst of the men who quickly started gathering at Anton’s home after watching the unfamiliar white man lay out the two by ten boards over the snow in order to get to Anton’s door without a major struggle through the snow, he realized just how very accurate Anton’s thinking was regarding their need for positive mental and physical outlets. He definitely couldn’t argue with Anton’s reasoning that no matter what legal consequences might arise regarding the assault on the long vacant building, those were far more preferable to risk and deal with than the domestic violence that often erupted from people being cooped up under the current conditions for far too long. What had started out for Sarge as simply a visit to learn what was being reported on the television regarding all things local had set in motion a rather large group effort in the immediate area.
Much later in the afternoon, he’d followed Anton back to the two-story building where he and Esther lived on the first floor and an elderly Italian couple, the Ranolis, occupied the second. Early in the morning he’d seen Lily outside and sent his things to her via Mrs. Cho who had been watching the attack on the abandoned house next to hers and offering gleeful, though generally unintelligible verbal support, from her porch. Since then he’d glimpsed her several times making her way over the still growing walkway to and from other residences carrying boxes and bags.
Now he found himself in a large square room where large sheets of paper which appeared to be the flip sides of discarded blueprints covered most of the wall space. While Anton was occupied with a group of teenage boys, Sarge, being the avid reader he was, couldn’t help but start reading the various lists, charts and copious notes written on the huge hand drawn map of the neighborhood that covered one entire wall. It didn’t take him long to realize that this was the information hub not only for the Neighborhood Watch, but for several other groups dealing with everything from food to medical needs among the local residents. There was even a long list of contact information for every city official and local politician accompanied by extremely candid notes about who was worth calling and who was not and why. Only when he turned around to glance back at another list while mentally connecting it with what he was currently exploring and discovered Anton standing alone in the presently quiet and empty hall watching him, only then did he think that he might have crossed a boundary he hadn’t noticed but ought to have seen right away.
Hoping he hadn’t burned the brand new personal bridge that had been built during the long day of unexpected shared labor, Sarge stood still, returned Anton’s curious look and waited patiently for the other man to speak his mind. Anton maintained his silence until Esther suddenly appeared to whisper with him for a few moments then just as suddenly disappeared. Anton glanced briefly in the direction Esther had gone and shook his head. He walked into the room and looked around the walls. Standing a few feet from Sarge, he said, “All this some crazy shit, ain’t it?”
Sarge looked around the room as Anton had. “I don’t think I’m reading you right, Anton. I sure don’t want to read you wrong. So I have to ask, in what sense is all this ‘crazy’? I have to ask because from where I’m standing it reads pretty damn sane to me.”
Anton carefully looked Sarge up and down, clearly trying to make up his mind about something. When he had made his decision he spoke quietly. “What’s crazy is that if we don’t do all this ourselves, we all be living in hell. Ain’t no one give a damn if we do or not. Except us. What’s crazy is that if we don’t keep flying under certain radars, there be some shut us down right quick cuz we ain’t doin’ things their way. Cuz we ain’t under their thumbs. You reading me right now, Big Man?”
“Yeah, I read that thumb action crazy like the back of my hand.”
Anton nodded. “Had a feelin’ in my bones you might. Now let’s catch some potluck.”
Breakfast Special, #16, “Alternate Realities” https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/breakfast-special-16-alternate-realities/
Much thanks to MisBehaved Woman for introducing me to “Closer to the Edge” by Rising Appalachia, filmed by Chad Hess who posted it on YouTube. There’s no snow, but the sentiments are the same. Enjoy. You too can visit MisBehaved Woman at http://misbehavedwoman.wordpress.com/