Amanda Hopper Writes

A writer's tale of living and working in the country.

Month: October 2010

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Once upon a time, down a dark country lane
A family of five waited in vain.
After a long day of moving
They sought showers for soothing
The sore muscles and aches
That heavy lifting do make.
The faucets turned on
All their stresses soon gone.
Until the realization hit
And their builders name they did spit
The hot water was never coming…

It’s dark, at night, in the country.
Really dark.
Dark and loud.
At first it seems so quiet compared to the city… until your ears adjust. Until you begin to hear them. The creaks, croaks, hoots, chirps, and rustling footfalls of the hidden wildlife. Wildlife that, in theory, is afraid of you. Somehow I doubt the curious bobcat and the confident coyotes received that memo. Even the deer look at you like you’re the one who doesn’t belong, then go back to eating the grass.
When we realized that first night that there was no hot water, cursing the building was only the beginning. We assumed that the water heater merely needed to be lit.
Wrong.
The next guess was that the water heater had never been hooked to the propane line. A check proved our theory and sent chills up our spines. The tools required to firmly attach the hose were safely stored in the shed.
An acre away from the garage.
An acre of pitch black country nighttime.
But our craving for hot water outweighed our fear of being eaten. So, armed with a flashlight, shed keys, and a broom handle, we ran the gauntlet.
Running in the dark, in the country, is probably not the best idea. Many hidden predators probably like to chase their prey. That thought did not hit us until we were fumbling with the shed lock trying to get the door open. Adrenaline makes your sense of hearing greater, and I swear we were surround by hundreds of fury onlookers. An audience that was no doubt whispering, “don’t they know not to walk around in the dark out here?!”
We grabbed the tools we needed and hurried back to the safety of our concrete bunker. After some work, the water heater still did not light. The only explanation left was that the propane line to the house had never been opened. The location of that valve?
Outside.
In the dark.
We gathered our gear and made our way out into the dark again. All I could think about was the warning from the HVAC installer about the horrifically mean wild pigs that roamed these parts. My highly alert ears ranged out to scan for the tale tell sound of approaching pigs while I stood guard for a crouching Andy. Then panic flooded my stomach… I don’t know what man-eating wild pigs sound like! What if they are silent killers?!
As soon as Andy uttered the word “done” I bolted for the garage. Every woman for herself! Andy’s yells to “wait for him” didn’t reach the rational side of my brain until my hand remembered that it was still holding the broom/defense weapon. I returned to the darkness while mumbling that I would be the one they attacked since I was the smaller and weaker of the two.
After all of that, we never did successfully fulfill our mission. Fear of explosions ultimately overshadowed our desire for hot showers. Two cold showers later we fell exhausted into bed, only to take turns waking each other every ten minutes with a “did you hear that?!”
A new house, a new environment, and a lack of curtains give life to the shadows that go bump and creak in the night.
A few days ago Andy mentioned in passing that something was eating our hay.
“What kind of something?” I ask.
“Looks like maybe pig tracks.” he mused.
The knowledge that wild, man-eating pigs lack the opposable thumbs required for opening doors may eventually allow me to sleep peacefully through the night…

That Which is Never Said

Moving is the worst thing ever invented. I’m pretty sure that if you were unlucky enough to visit Hell, there would be a moving room. A place where people were forced to place all of their misshapen items in a perfectly square box and tape it closed without any bulges and still be able to lift it. The damned would be forced to then place all of those boxes and everything that would never fit into any of those boxes in to an immovable rectangular truck. Finally, the poor saps would be forced to tie everything down with twine, rope, and the ever reliable duck tape (only it would be the off-brand duck tape, the kind that is the right color but lacks the superhuman sticking power). The fallen would then drive off in the behemoth death o’ wheels, driving no more than 50 miles an hour with long lines of very irritated cars following. The procession would fray every nerve and a low fuel indicator would cause unadulterated panic as the driver attempted to avoid smashing into the gas pump, a.k.a potential ball of flames.
 The long haul would lead to the unloading of the truck, and the mad dance of the conductor. The person whose job it is to direct the weary and heavy laden with huge arm movements and the graceful get out of the way dance. The soul who must know where the unmarked boxes go, because they will never leave their final resting spot. The haulers would be forced to carry massive pieces of unyielding furniture up and down winding staircases, while being lashed whenever they inadvertently scrape the freshly painted walls.
 The exhausted participants would eventually finish the move, find a cleared spot on the floor, and fall asleep on the floor with only the scratchy furniture blankets to provide warmth. The morning would greet them in their old house, having not packed a thing, the truck waiting to be filled. A “Groundhog Day” of horrific proportions. Would the nightmare of eternal moving ever stop? Could the tourtured ever be forgiven?
Yes, when they finally hired qualified movers to complete the job.
And sadly, many people are too cheap to buy their way out of the moving room in Hell.
I speak from experience.
Our move was rough as you no doubt gleam from my depressing tale. We were lucky enough to have family who rallied and helped. Some of the highlights included Andy’s car finally dying, the builder still working on the house as we were moving in, our borrowed trailer was struck by a car, one of the dogs (Jessie) was injured, the list of stresses could fill the page. But on our very last load from the rental where we had just spent hours engaging in a final clean just hours before the new tenants moved in, we were reminded of what really matters in this crazy life.
The trailer was loaded, and one of the dogs was laying under the feet of all three boys in the backseat of the pickup.  The other dog was in my seat while a carpet cleaner was on the floor of the front seat. I was smashed up against Andy in the drivers seat while sitting in the middle bench seat. As we drove precariously through the dark, Ian shouts with joy, “It’s the whole family!”
Yes little man, we made it… the whole family.