Oh fuck - I can't refrain from posting this tidbit!
Due to my semi-reclusiveness and the spread out nature of this small agricultural community where I live, chances are minimal to negligible to randomly bump into people. Which is a good thing. Especially since I recently rocked the boat. You'll have to refer to my previous posts!
At any rate, I ran to the gas station just now to pick something up. There were two guys talking in front of a truck parked in the lot. I knew one, a farmer who offers me ice-cold watermelon juice in the heat of summer when I mountain bike past his farm. Momma told me never to accept sweets from men so I never did.
He hailed me. "Happy New Year!"
We talked for a few and the man standing next to him said, "I recognize that voice."
Very few people recognize me in my winter garb: parka, scarf, hat where only my eyeglasses and nose show. Nothing comes off until the first thaw or April. They usually go by my jalopy, thirteen years old with three duct tape bandaids on the bumper.
"Who are you?" I asked, not recognizing him as well.
"Ernest," he said.
WHAM! With a wallop I recalled what occurred with Ernest two years ago. At that very same gas station, I sought help early in the morning to lift my wood boat for winterizing. It only takes 14 minutes with two handy people to winch it up in the boathouse. The person who customarily helped me ran off to parts unknown and, desperate, I ran to the place which hosts all the community, second to the post office: the gas station.
Ernest happened to be there and said, "I'll do it. I know where you live and will be around three in the afternoon."
It's a red flag when people say they know where I live. It means they watch me. As one of the few single women up here, I'm pegged all right.
At three o'clock he came over and I got a look at him. Short, thin as a skeleton and an unhealthy complexion. His clothes were torn and hung almost like rags from his frame. Great, I thought, he looks like a junkie.
We went into the boathouse. Winterizing is an intricate process despite the short amount of time involved. Sure enough, the engine didn't start. The battery died.
"Listen, you may have to come another day," I suggested.
"Nah, we'll charge the battery. I can wait - can you make me a cup of coffee?"
With reluctance, I weighed the options. It was early November with the possibility of a drop in temperature. Not to mention the unreliability factor of people where I live.
"Sure," I said and let him sit in my kitchen.
Over coffee, he said, "My dream's to be a drug counselor. I was a heroin addict."
"No shit," I replied, jumping outta my skin. Here I was alone in the middle of nowhere with a former addict sitting in my kitchen. That wasn't so bad, it was the loving way he described drugs while chain-smoking and waxing on about his addiction. I wanted him out of my house and far away from me.
After half an hour, I said, "Ok, let's check out the battery."
With luck, the engine started right up, I got to administer the solvents, antifreeze, etc. in a few minutes and then we hoisted that puppy up. In 14 minutes flat.
We returned back to the kitchen where I handed him two twenties. Forty dollars is a lot of money for 14 minutes of work.
He looked at the two bills with disgust.
"Forty dollars isn't good enough?" I said. Up here, that's enough to get drunk for a week with a pack of smokes.
"It isn't that," he said, shaking his head.
"Well, what's the problem here?"
Swiftly, he took the money and shoved it into his pants pocket. "I kinda expected something else."
Aghast, I cried, "WHAT?"
"Right after I saw you at the gas station, I was so happy that I went back to my place and showered and put on clean clothes." He couldn't meet my eyes.
And you wonder, Dear Reader, why I've problems living in this small town?
With tact, I said, "I hired you to help me winterize a boat. Nothing more."
"Well, I was sorta hoping," he whined.
"What the hell's your problem?" I shrieked. "You shoulda talked to people in this town. They'd set you right." Then again, knowing the schmucks here, they'd probably encourage him.
"People up here want to rain on your parade the moment they see you happy," he informed me. Then he wailed, "I haven't had sex in eight years."
That's when I knew I had a problem. A BIG problem for this guy expected sex! WTF?
Hustling him out of my home, I suggested, "Go online. Try out those free dating services like plentyoffish. I'm sure you'll meet someone."
In front of the gas station, I nodded to the farmer and moon-walked away. I hope Ernest doesn't find that encouragement to drop by. Like gastric reflux or perhaps the undead, every time I get rid of a lunatic, others from the past re-emerge. Kinda detracts from the reason why I live in an isolated, remote area. Or, sets up the premise for a really scary movie.
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