Real life sucks. Poor Cal.
There wasn’t a riot in Tampa. Rather than fighting in the streets people pulled their heads in like turtles and stayed quiet. The cops were out in force, the community cameras watched closely for any signs of incipient violence but that’s it. The streets were eerily hushed from what the news reported.
Not so bad out here in Ruskin but it was still quieter than normal. The heat is as oppressive as the silence. Street violence and public drunkenness was down but domestic violence went up so the cops were still kept busy.
The blueberries are finished for the season and Dorrie’s family invited me to pick blackberries on their property. Hey, they got some free labor to help them out but I came away with enough blackberries that the ones I found in the fence line around the house were all gravy.
A week after the Atlanta riot I got a strange call from Cal in the middle of the night. “Aria, don’t freak out, it’s just me.”
“Cal! I got your txts that let me know you were ok. Did you get mine letting …”
“Yeah, look. I’m coming down the drive. I need to borrow the trailer.”
“Sure of course, but Cal … it’s 2:30 in the morning. Is everything all right?”
“I’ll explain when it’s daylight. I’ll … I’ll be coming out later if that’s ok with you.”
Hearing the weirdness in his voice I again asked, “Cal … what’s wrong?”
“I … I can’t talk about it right now. Just do me a favor and stay in the house with the baby. Josh and a couple of other guys are with me. You might hear some noise but everything is fine. Just … just go back to sleep.”
Yeah. I was gonna “just go back to sleep.”
I left the lights off but I snuck downstairs and looked out the peep hole in the back door shutters.
Two guys – one of them Josh and one I didn’t recognize – walked close enough to the porch that I could hear what they were saying if I cracked the door a little. “Dang Dude. Look at them hurricane shutters. She’s gotta be roasting in there with no air conditioning. What’s that woman afraid of? Bigfoot gonna snatch her and her kid and carry ’em off?”
“Knock it off Ray. She’s his cousin’s wife. She’s lucky she isn’t as crazy as her husband was after what she’s been through. If she wasn’t a little paranoid she wouldn’t be normal. And you do not want to say nothing in front of Cal. In the mood he is in …”
“Yeah … yeah I suppose so. Just seems strange for him to live out in that dinky little trailer when she’s got that big ol’ house with just her and her kid living in it.”
“That’s the way Cal wants it. He needs his space. And man you do not want to say what you are thinking.”
After a brief pause Ray said, “Got it.”
“Good. Let’s just get this unhitched and get that other trailer then get gone. Thank God I’m off tomorrow; I’m gonna sleep all day. It this wasn’t for Cal I’d be in bed right now.”
“You and me both man. I’ve got this new girl and she’s got these jugs that … mmmmm … and …” I didn’t hear the rest as they were walking back towards the travel trailer.
However I can imagine what ol’ Ray was thinking, the guy obviously had a one track mind. I hope he isn’t stupid enough to hint something like that to Cal. Bad enough that he barked at the kid at the grocery store when he asked if we needed any help out with our bags. No telling what he would do to Ray if he started talking nasty. I swear Cal is playing the big bad brother role a little too seriously on some days.
After they left I tried to stay up but I was just too tired … and Ray was right about one thing, it was hot downstairs. The cheap window air conditioners that the property management team had installed while it was a rental all died. You can’t use the shutters anyway with the units in so I’ve opted to return to the way things were when I was growing up. No AC, just fans. It was better upstairs where the house captured the breeze off of the river and was about fifteen degrees cooler, twenty if I opened the window half way and turned on the fan.
I was up early and had a pot of coffee on. I kept expecting Cal to text or call or drive up at any moment. I kept myself busy, trying not to wonder – not to worry – what had made him sound so strange the night before. It was nearly lunch time when my phone rang. “Aria, I’ve … I’ve got a situation up here at the end of the drive way. Can you come down here?"
I walked down and there was some big swanky car blocking my drive with some smirking little pretty boy in a suit but unprofessional hair length leaning against my gate post. I looked at Cal who looked sick … scary sick like someone had been rearranging his insides without medical authorization. The suit gave me a shark’s grin but my blood was boiling and it was me that went for the kill.
“You’re trespassing whoever you are and if you don’t stop blocking my gate I’m gonna call the cops.”
Mr. My-Poop-Don’t-Stink says, “I’m in the right of way. It’s him that’s blocking the road.” He handed me his business card. I looked at it and then grinned nasty enough that he blinked.
“Wrong again idiot. You entered my private property when you turned off the main road back there at the bend. You notice the color of the street sign? You can read it says ‘private drive’? Well I’m Mrs. Private Drive. I own this entire road. I give a couple of home owners along the river access to the back of their property just to be nice … but you I’m not feeling the need to be nice to. If you don’t carry your smarmy butt back the way you came you may not like the consequences. I own this road. I own the shore line that surrounds my side of the twenty acres I live on. Consider yourself warned. I catch you or anyone sent by you trying to access my private property and it’s just going to mean another complaint against you to the Florida bar. And yes, I said another, as in you can already count on one. Any lawyer too dumb to read and to know the private property laws shouldn’t be practicing in this state.”
“My client has the right to …”
“Whoever your client is they can blow it out their backside. Get a court order. A proper one. Then have it properly served by the proper authorities. And you just got yourself a second complaint for being so stupid that a layman had to explain standard legal proceedings to you. Oh, in case you are still too dumb to read, I’ll point out that sign that is legally posted right there that warns you that everything on my private property is under surveillance. So smile for the birdie … your insolence is on tape and I’ll be uploading it to facebook and anyplace else I feel like before the day is much older.”
Giving me what passes for blank lawyer face he said, “I’m sorry there must have been some misunderstanding here. My apologies.”
“You know what you can do with your apologies and your so-called misunderstandings can follow them. They must have picked you for your looks because they sure didn’t pick you for your brains. No one threatens my family Pretty Boy. No one. Ever.”
Just thinking about it again my brain feels like it is frying and I’m sick to my stomach. I’ve got to put this pen down or I’m gonna wind up stabbing it through the paper.