It was a hot and humid day in Eastern Washington. I’m cruising down the highway in my Cadillac Seville in route to the City of Spokane to see my friend, Greg, a nice man I met online a few weeks ago. Excited, he had invited me over for the weekend, this time to his daughter, Lisa’s home in a small town outside of Spokane. I was excited about meeting her and spending time with her and her father.
As I approach Spokane, I turned on my GPS. In a few minutes, the GPS has me turning on the street where Lisa lives which is out in the boon docks. As I drive down the road, I pass several beautiful homes, their manicured lawns decorated with colorful foliage. I zero in on each house looking for Lisa’s house number, 4555 but after driving for some time, I soon realize there are no houses with that particular number. I then notice a large run- down wood brown house enclosed behind a barb wired fence, sitting away from the road propped up on cement blocks.
I thought, “Surely this is not it,” I said to myself. “Maybe I have already passed the house. I better call Lisa.”
I grabbed my cell phone from my handbag and dialed Lisa’s telephone number. The phone rings several times before she finally picks up. “Hello,” a woman on the other end said.
“May I speak to Lisa,” I asked.
“You’re speaking to her,” she said her voice pleasant.
“Hi Lisa, this is Elaine. I’m on your street, but I can’t find your house. Where are you?”
“Oh, my house is the brown wood house off the road,” she further clarified. My heart sank. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I sighed heavily, “Well, I think I passed it. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
“Great, I can’t wait to meet you!”
I turned the car around and drove back to the wooden shack I passed earlier. I whisper a quick prayer as I turned into the dirt driveway. “Lord help me get through this weekend,” I whisphered determined to keep an open mind and not be judgmental. I slowly approached the house.
On my right, there were five rusty cars. Two red Toyotas, two brown mustangs and a silver gray Honda badly in need of repair were parked alongside the driveway. Little black and red chickens ran hither and yon, underneath and around the cars as well as up and down the stairs leading up to the house. Frowning, I said, “This place looks like a used car lot! Chickens, I can’t do chickens!” As I shook my head in disbelief.
I parked my car and slowly easeed out of my vehicle. With my suitcase in my right hand and handbag on my shoulder, I took a deep breath and made my way to the run down house. I cringed at the sight of this perilous scene. The parked rusty cars in the driveway, the worn down wooden house propped on cement blocks, and the wild chickens running loose and wild in every direction took my breath away. I kept my eyes peeled to the ground as I navigated the little piles of chicken shit in my path.
Suddenly, Greg emerged from the house and runs down the steps to greet me. I cringed at his disheveled, crumpled appearance. He was wearing orange rubber boots that covered his knees and his blue jeans and red plaid shirt were dusted with dirt. The Mariners baseball cap on his head covered most of his salt and pepper hair. His pale blue eyes glistened like ice on his dusty motley face.
Greg broke out into a wide grin. He grabbed my suitcase, dropped on the ground, and gave me a bear hug. “You’re so dirty,” I exclaimed as I wiggled out of his arms and stepped away.
“I’m so sorry,” he said noticing my discomfort. “Forgive me. I have been doing repairs around the house most of the day.”
“Oh,” I said forcing a half smile. He grabbed my hand and pulled toward the house. “Come with me, let’s go inside.”
I followed him up the stairs. I couldn’t help noticing how old and worn the outside of the house looked. The structure appeared to be leaning over to one side as if it was about to fall over any minute. The stairs creaked and moaned as we climbed them to the door.
I flinched when two barking dogs greeted us on the porch. A white toy poodle and a reddish-brown lab retriever barked nonstop and it irritated me, and before I knew it, I cursed the dogs out. “Oh shut the hell up, why don’t you.” I fumed.
Startled, the dogs stopped barking for a minute. Then they took off running down the stairs into the yard finally disappearing into the woods. Greg busted out laughing. “I guess you hurt their little feelings,” he crooned. Despite the growing apprehension deep in the pit of my stomach, I giggled out loud feeling somewhat relieved.
Greg opened the door and motioned for me to enter the house before him. To my dismay, three loud purring grey cats greet me in the vestibule. Their purring was shrill and grating which unnerved me. One cat crept over and rubbed his furry body against my leg. My eyes water and itch, and I sneezed hard. “Greg,” I croaked with my throat feeling dry. “I’m allergic to cats. I can’t be around them.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” he apologized. “I’ll get rid of them.”
Greg gathered up the cats and disappeared in the hallway. I kept on sneezing and my left eye itched so badly, I almost gouged it out from rubbing it so hard. Now in a full blown allergic reaction, I frantically searched my handbag for some benedryl. Finally I find it. I take it from my handbag hurriedly twist off the cap. I popped two tablets in my mouth and five minutes later, I was feeling better.
While I waited on Greg, his daughter, Lisa, walked in the room. Bare footed, she looked a hot mess with her tangled up auburn red hair. Her shirt sleeve hung off her left shoulder and her torn denim shorts were rolled up to her mid-thigh. When she smiled, she was missing two front teeth. “So you’re the special lady my dad has been dating for the past few weeks,” she exclaimed, looking euphoric. “So glad to finally meet you.”
Between sneezes, I managed to force a smile. “I’ve heard a lot about you too. Thanks for inviting me to your home.”
“You’re quite welcome. Are you alright?” Lisa asked noticing my discomfort.
“Oh, it’s allergies,” I explained feeling hot with embarrassment. “I’m allergic to cats.”
“How unfortunate.” Lisa ran over to a nearby table and grabbed a box of tissue. She brings it to me. “Here take one.”
“Thanks.” I snatch a tissue out of the box and blow my nose sounding like a bull horn. Feeling my cheeks getting warm, I quickly apologized, “So embarrassing, please excuse me.”
Lisa chuckled. “No problem, I hope you feel better.”
“Me too,” I said feeling some relief but still embarrassed.
It’s not long before Greg returned to the room. He took one look at his daughter and his face twisted up like a pretzel. “I wish you would’ve dressed better,” he said looking crossed.
Lisa rolled her eyes and turned her back on her father, ignoring his insult. She took off down the hall and beckoned me to follow her. “Let me show you the guest room,” she hollered back at me.
While she led me through the house, I scoped the place out, taking everything in. Lisa’s home was spotless. A pleasant surprise I didn’t expect. I didn’t care much for her decorating taste. Her theme was country and out dated. Worn, bulky gray furniture scattered stragetically throughout the home sat on shiny freshly polished hardwood floors. When we arrived at the guest room, she opened the door and went inside. I followed her in and found the room to be quaint and airy with a lemon scent. The country style queen size bed although outdated had a red comforter with pillows to match. “I hope you enjoy your stay here,” Lisa smiled warmly. “There are towels in the vanity closet in the bathroom. Make yourself at home.”
“Thank you,” I said still looking around.
“I’m so please to finally meet you,” Lisa said.
“It’s nice to finally meet you too,” I smiled.
“Why don’t you freshen up, Dad’s cooking dinner.”
“I will,” I smiled again, inwardly irritated. I didn’t like being told what to do. Unaware of my annoyance, Lisa walked out leaving me alone in the room.
I dropped my suitcase on the floor, then I inspected the room. First I checked out the bed, shaking the comforter and looking underneath it. I hurried to the bathroom, looking around for any evidence of four legged critters lurking about. Ten minutes into my search, I realized there were none much to my relief.
I flopped down on the bed and reality hits me. “Well I’m here.” Now resigned to my lot as I reached for my suitcase. “I might as well make the best of it.” So I unpacked my bag and settled in for the long weekend. This story is dedicated to my sister, Cheryl Dixon-Haskins. Thank you for reading.