A Tale of Two Locks
An old story, this, which I just found in my drafts folder; the story of a housesitting adventure from July, gone awry, which I meant to post after I had a chance to tell the owner of the house as I figured she should be the first to hear it. And it’s much funnier as a verbal tale, but gosh, aren’t we all so busy? So this is how she will find out, rather than over drinks. ;-) And so it is written in present tense because I don’t have the energy, in the midst of my second move in one month (yet another drama), to change all the tenses. This is a tale of two locks. The tale of the two moves is for another day.
I have housesat here before. I housesit a lot. I am in demand and it is high season. I am in demand because I don’t snoop, a common complaint about housesitters, so I am told. I must be told this because I’d otherwise not know it. I don’t need housesitters myself, as I have no house. And no longer have a pet.
I am super-obsessive about keys (and most things) when I am housesitting (and even when I am not) and if I go out for even a minute, I bring my keys. If I go out on the deck for even a piece of a minute, I unlock the door AND I bring my keys. But this morning was different somehow. Maybe I was not me this morning. Maybe my OCD let up for a minute. There are too many maybes to even ponder.
So, on this morning I let Girlie Girl (not her real cat name), the 18 year old cat who I am watching, out on the second floor deck for a minute and she immediately threw up all over it. So I ran in and got water and soap and paper towels in order to clean it up, and a sudden gust of wind blew the door shut and locked behind me.I was stunned and unrealistically kept turning the knob, as though it would turn out to be somehow not true that I was on the wrong side of the door and that it was actually locked. But nothing changed.
This is not such a great ‘hood to be out in while wearing a skimpy and tattered t-shirt with no products from Victoria’s Secret or any other such purveyor of such things underneath, but then what ‘hood is? But this ‘hood does have some interesting characters running about in all manner of dress and with all manner of urgencies, running about at all hours, so perhaps it was the best ‘hood for such a spectacle.
Thankfully I had taken off the tattered shorts and thrown on a pair of jeans before that lock and that wind conspired to create this drama for me, but I had no shoes or sunglasses or keys or cell phone.
So I thought to run barefoot to my studio 6 blocks away where at the least I have a spare car key and people to help me, and so I ran (ish), in my wobbly, disjointed manner, due to all those herniated disks and bone spurs and ever-spasming muscles, with eyes squinting against the very bright sun, arms crossed to cover the tatters and lack of said purveyed underthings, and as I ran, I realized that I much resembled a sort of not-so-uncommon local person of a certain type, and who might be perhaps experiencing some sort of drama due to some sort of deal, perhaps gone bad, or in desperate anticipation of some sort of deal which would very shortly go very well, if you know what I mean. I had been woken up at midnight-thirty the night before by someone yelling, “Hey! HEY! I don’t care what you do in your own home but I am NOT going to watch you beat up on a woman.” I had then looked out the window to see a bunch of of guys in a car below, passing some sort of illuminated thing, while the driver stood outside and beside his car yelling, and had heard one of the guys inside the car say, “She probably tried to rip him or or sell him some bad shit.”
When I got to my studio, with wild, unbrushed hair and unbrushed teeth, I had no key and so I banged on a window with a stray brick till the building manager let me in, and into my studio, for my spare car key. That was a start. Yet everything in my studio is in garbage bags for the ongoing and massive extermination (another traumatic story) but I dug around and found a tank top with built in sports bra, and the only shoes I could find; a pair of high heeled clogs. All in all a lovely ensemble, yet definitely some sort of upgrade. And it’s not like I care much about my appearance but I do generally cover myself and make attempts at cleanliness. I was somewhat horrified to be out and about in this condition.
The only person around at the building with a truck was presently underneath it in the parking lot gluing his muffler back in, so I ran next door to where my new stepfather works (husband of the biological mother I just met in the last year or so) and borrowed his mini van so we could load a 20 foot ladder and go climb in the one second floor window which I had just shut that morning, but not yet locked, thankfully.
So we – me and the building manager and his son – set the ladder against the wall. Yet the ladder stopped 4 feet shy of the window and we were all afraid of it and we were just standing there, staring at it for a moment, waiting for it to grow, and just then, out of my peripheral vision, I saw a local sort of guy come along and next thing we know, he is climbing up our ladder and saying over his shoulder, “I am really good at this”.
We could not even stop him, though I think we were paralyzed also by fear of climbing that ladder ourselves. I then yelled toward him, “Don’t worry, I called the police to tell them we’d be going in through the window (because I had)”, and went on to say, “The owner’s boyfriend is a cop so I thought I’d better tell them as they tend to watch this place”, which of course is a spur-of-the-moment ‘hood-tailored lie.
Just as he got to the window he hesitated and turned and asked, “Is there a dog?” to which I immediately replied, “No, the dog won’t be back for another hour, with its owner, thank god, because I am terrified of it”, another construction of the moment.
So in he went. I climbed over the brick wall to the yard and went up the stairs where he let me in through that naughty door. I gave the guy $10, the only paper money I had in my pocket, and profusely thanked him. He seemed grateful for the money, but then said, “Imagine how much it would have cost if you had to call a locksmith?”, to which I replied, “Well, my friend Cal (no idea where I got that name) is a locksmith but he is in Northampton and could not get here for over an hour so I didn’t want to wait, as I have to get packed up and out of here before the owner gets back in an hour.”
He smiled and asked for a glass of water and as I gave it to him I must admit to my first thought being, “now I have his DNA!”, as I have been watching too much Law and Order lately. You know how they have those marathons? One of the best parts of housesitting is having tv, as I just have a digital converter box and it somehow got stuck on Fox, so I only have that one channel.
That glass sat on the counter for the next 3 days, with a little label that said, “Ladder-Climber”, which was not the maybe real name he had given me, which I’ll not use here.
So, he left and I put on a more fitting ensemble, got my keys, and drove the minivan back to its owner (neither of the men helping me had a driver’s license), walked back to the house, and got my car, and all was well.