Country Life Ain't What It Used to Be!

I truly wanted to put in a funny post, but shit happened and because of these people, you, dear Readers, will have to suffer through another one of my rants.

Country Living by Thomas Kinkade Link: Art of the South

Earlier this week, I sat at the tiny kitchen table composing a short story for a reading that'll take place in a local town. There's a community group in which I participated. For free, we read short stories, no more than 750 words (which roughly translates to 4 minutes) to anyone who happens to want to listen. There are several venues here that give us free usage of their place in return for increased patronage. In return, they choose a topic and we create our tiny masterpieces. Although you never know what you're going to get with us.

This time the topic was "Freedom" and in my own special way, I wrote about my emancipation from... well, I may post it some day. At any rate, it wasn't even 10 am and I still wore my fleece pjs with a cup of java by my side. While typing furiously, I saw a quick movement from the corner of my eye which caused me to approach the front door.

Before me was one of the local honchos of my town. Several years ago, I hired him and his then pre-teen son to do small jobs that I can't do, like replacing roof shingles and fixing the engine on my boat. I liked the kid. He was popular in school, a great athlete and showed love and admiration towards his father. Today, what kid openly admires and respects his parents?

Over the past three years we lost touch. Funny to say in a small community. But, that's how it goes. I opened the door wide and stared at the father. He looked like shit. Before I could say a word, he barreled his way into my kitchen.

Without any preamble whatsoever, he burst out, "Hey, I need money. Can I borrow some?"

Taken aback by the request which wasn't a request, but a demand, I responded, "I only have a dollar and eighty two cents."

"A check to cash would suffice." Then he tacked on an additional ten dollars to get the check cleared at a local store.

Now, I'm not exactly wealthy. Hell, I'm almost totally broke for book royalties suck and that's my only source of income. The money he requested was already allocated to my electricity bill.

"Listen, I really need this money as well. Times are hard. I expect that you'll repay me."

He stared me down. This was not a request. This was a demand. I had a desperate man in my kitchen and no fucking way would he budge until he got that check in his hand.

Then, I rationalized. He and his son helped me out a lot over the years without charging me. You see, there're always strings attached to those freebees. I wished the timing was better for now every penny counts.

As an excuse, he said, "Fred needs the money for his rehab."

That blindsided me. I stopped writing the check and screeched, "REHAB?"

"Yeah, he's a heroin addict."

I heard rumors swirling about the kid's drug habit in which I refused to believe. "How could Fred be a heroin addict? He's a good kid!" Hell, he was only sixteen and had a full life ahead, a former promising life.

I handed the check over and before exiting the place, the guy asks, "Say, do you have any vodka?"

WTF? That pushed me over the edge. Right on top of my kitchen counter were several bottles of vodka that I removed from the shed where it's freezing cold. I wanted to put them in my little freezer just in case I had any guests. These bottles of vodka I hoarded for years because they're from Poland and not exported to the US. I only pour shots for special occasions with friends. They feel like silk going down the throat and let me tell you, as a non-drinker, they pack a wallop.

Staring at this guy right in his eyes, I said, "I don't have any vodka."

Fuck him. He bolted out of my cottage and ran to the driveway. And guess who popped up in front of my door? Yep, the teenage son, Fred.

Fred looked marvelous for a heroin addict. He looked fit and healthy. I yelled from my doorway, "What the fuck, you're a heroin addict?"

"Yeah. All it took was one shot and I was hooked."

"You're going to rehab now?"

He fidgeted. "Well, it's to pay the drug guys. They came after me and put a gun in my face. They say I owe them money, money I don't owe them and threatened to kill me and my family unless I pay."

"What's this with your father asking for vodka?"

"He needs a little to unwind at night."

Oh boy. Oh fucking boy. I sat at the kitchen table shook up. This was not how I envisioned my morning to be. So, I decided to spread the wealth.

I phoned my boyfriend at work. He hates these phone calls. They disrupt his busy work schedule and then he spends the week worrying about my well-being until he gets his ass up here on Friday night. And the cycle restarts when he returns to work on Monday.

He groaned. "What the fuck is wrong with your community?"

I've a little on-going situation. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, another fine-standing community member helped me out. This was when my boyfriend and I had broken up over a disagreement about living arrangements.

Inasmuch as I love New York City, I can't tolerate the noise there due to my neurological deafness. Although I'll make an infrequent day trip, I'm firmly entrenched in country living and silence. It's a major sacrifice and I know he chafes. Yet, as they say, love will conquer all. We're trying this round to come up with some solutions.

During this time, the other prominent member of my community who I'll name, "Chief" took a liking towards me. He helped me with several chores I could have done by myself. With the insurance money, I paid him for his help. I knew he took a liking and didn't want to feel indebted.

Perhaps I shouldn't have paid him. Or perhaps I should've blown him off right at the beginning. Anyhow, he stepped it up, coming over unannounced, helping me do things once again I can do myself. And tries to cadge a kiss and cop a feel which I shrug off.

I told him flat out, "I've no money to pay you, so please don't help me."

"That's what friends are for," he replied.

Oh boy.

Over the few years living in this small community, I learned a few things:

  1. Any single woman living alone, regardless of age, is viewed as sexually available. How I feel about the matter is inconsequential.
  2. You can never say: I'm not interested; You make me want to puke; I'd rather eat live worms; Please let me alone. Because then they'll burn down your house.
  3. You can't resort to the local police as this is the ol' boys network and will result in #4.
  4. Any rebuff results in threats to physical well-being that may be enacted upon and retaliation such as burning down the house.

As a result, I have to walk a fine line. I must be polite no matter the situation and smile a lot. Should I show my true feelings, I may be beaten up, raped and end up dying in a fire when they burn down my house with me inside. 

Chief thinks I'm a pushover, hell, he told me that several times. "Oh, you're soft."

The little fucker has no idea who he's contending with. He thinks he has me over the barrel and it's only a matter of time before I succumb to his 'charms.' He has no idea that I'm playing 'nice' for his sake. 

He stepped it up once again with the latest drift of conversation when he comes over, uninvited. About his violence and hothead temper. 

"I murdered a guy in self-defense and got off," he said numerous times with a shit-eating grin plastered on his face. Always after telling me how much he values our 'friendship.'

Oh boy. I got the sub-text of that. Momma does NOT like to be threatened. 

This went on until my boyfriend and I got back together. For I'm amassing the threats. They're not critical mass yet where I can pull out all stops. And I will. Anyhow, he's keeping a low profile for he heard through the grapevine my boyfriend and I are back together. Cowards and bullies, that's what I gotta contend with.

"I wish you'd move in with me here," groused my boyfriend.

"No one's going to menace me outta my home," I stated. "If I move anywhere it'll be from my own free will."

"I just can't believe all the drama that comes to your door," he stated. "You'd think living in a small town that things'll be quiet."

And that's the crux of the matter. Isolated, remote and thinly populated, we got all the ails of urban living. And more. Syphilitic inbred morons who believe they can push anyone over due to their rank in the community. Thankfully, these are a handful of people. The majority are really decent, fine upstanding citizens.

Later that day, I bumped into a few of the other local denizens.

"You wouldn't believe who came to my door this morning demanding money!" I said.

"You too?" said one of the men. "Hell, he hit everyone up. Glad we're supporting the drug lords."

That evening, I phoned my friends who reside here part-time. "Just a heads up that you're going to be approached for money - "

"We were hit up several times. He did us huge favors in the past so we just figured it was payback time. But no more."

"I don't understand why he doesn't go to the police. The FBI, the DEA."

"Like you did with Chief?"

Yep. That's the drawback in living in a small community where everyone knows everyone's business. I think I might cajole my boyfriend in taking a job in a nearby city to live here with me. That would be the ideal solution. For me.

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Kathleen said...

Guess what married ladies get harrassed also! I just recently had to tell someone off who even knows I am married. Knows my kids and my husband. If he doesn't leave me alone I am telling the hubby this time and he can deal with him.

maura stone said...

Geesh. Sorry to hear that! What the hell's wrong with these guys?! Perhaps, as writers, we're utterly irresistible. ;)