It was a hot and humid day in Eastern Washington. I am 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. “Maybe I have already passed the house. I better call Lisa.”
I dialed Lisa’s telephone number and the phone rings several times before she finally picks up. “Hello,” a woman on the other end said.
“May I speak to Lisa,” I replied.
“You are speaking to her,” she said her voice pleasant.
“Hi Lisa, this is Elaine. I am 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 then said, “Well, I think I passed your house. I will be there in a few minutes.”
“Great, can’t wait to meet you,” she said.
I turned the car around and drove back to the wooden shack I passed earlier. I whisper a quick prayer as I turned on the dirt driveway. “Lord help me get through this weekend,” I said determined to keep an open mind and refrain from being too judgmental. I slowly approached the house.
On my right, there are five rusty cars. Two red Toyotas, two brown mustangs and a silver gray Honda badly in need of repair parked alongside the driveway. Little black and red chickens run hither and yon, underneath and around the cars as well as up and down the stairs leading up to the house. I frown. “This place looks like a used car lot,” I said. “Chickens, I can’t do chickens,” I said shaking my head in disbelief.
I park my car and slowly ease out of my vehicle with my suitcase in tow. I breathe deep, taking my sweet time as I make my way to the run down house. I cringe as I try to wrap my head around this perilous scene. The parked rusty cars in the driveway, the worn down wood house propped on cement blocks, and the wild chickens running loose and wild in every direction. I concentrate hard, keeping my eyes peeled to the ground as I navigate the little piles of chicken shit in my direct path.
Suddenly, Greg emerges from the house and runs down the steps to greet me. I cringe again, taken back by his disheveled appearance. The orange rubber boots he has on extend up over his knees and he’s wearing dirty blue jeans with a plaid shirt. The Mariners baseball cap on his head covers most of his salt and pepper hair which casts a shadow over his pale blue eyes. His face, brown and motley looks like someone dipped him with dirt.
Greg smiles wide as he reaches out to hug me. “You are so dirty,” I said politely stepping away to avoid his grasp.
“I’m so sorry,” he said noticing my discomfort. “Forgive me. I have been doing repairs around the house all day.”
“Oh,” I said forcing a half smile. He grabs my hand. “Come with me, let’s go inside.”
I follow him up the stairs and 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 flinch when greeted by two barking dogs on the porch, a white toy poodle and a reddish-brown lab retriever. Their barking irritated me and before I knew it, I was cursing the dogs out. “Oh shut the hell up, why don’t you.” I said fuming.
The dogs stopped barking for a minute. Startled by my loud voice and then they take 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 said. I giggled despite the growing apprehension deep in the pit of my stomach.
Greg opens the door and motions for me to enter the house before him. To my dismay, three grey cats greet me in the vestibule purring loud, their shrill sound unnerving to me. One cat creeps over and rubs up against my leg. I sneeze hard and my eyes begin to water and itch. “Greg,” I whisper, my throat feeling very dry. “I am allergic to cats. I can’t be around them.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry about that,” he said gathering up the cats as I continue to sneeze and rub my left eye. “I’ll get rid of them,” he said.
Greg takes the cats to another room and while he is gone, Lisa, his daughter walks into the room bare footed. She looks a hot mess with her auburn red hair tangled and standing all over her head. The sleeve to her shirt hangs off her right shoulder and she’s wearing torn denim shorts rolled up to mid-thigh.
“So you are the special lady my dad has been dating for the past few weeks,” she said grinning, looking excited. I notice she was missing a tooth. “So glad to finally meet you,” she said.
Between sneezes, I manage to force a smile. “I have heard so much about you,” I said feeling miserable. “Thank you for inviting me to your home.”
“You are quite welcome,” Lisa said. “Are you alright?” She asked noticing my discomfort.
“Oh, it’s allergies,” I said feeling hot with embarrassment. “I’m allergic to cats.”
“How unfortunate,” Lisa said running over to a nearby table. She grabs a box of tissue and brings it to me. “Here,” she said.
I take the box from her and snatch a tissue out of it. When I blow my nose, it sounds like a bull horn. “Excuse me,” I said feeling my cheeks turning red.
Lisa chuckles. “No problem,” she said. “I hope you feel better.”
“Me too,” I said feeling some relief but still embarrass.
It’s not long before Greg returns to the room. He takes one look at his daughter and his face twists up like a pretzel. “Is this the way you are going to meet my new lady,” he said looking very cross. “I wish you would have dressed better,” he said.
Lisa rolls her eyes and beckons me to follow her. She ignores her father refusing to respond to his insult. “Let me show you the guest room,” she said turning her back on him.
While she leads through the house, I scope everything out, taking in the scene. The inside of her home is quite nice, a pleasant surprise I didn’t expect. Although, her home is spotless, I didn’t care much for the way she decorated it. Her taste had a country feel to it and the furniture was old and out dated. “It’s no way, I could live in this house with this furniture and color scheme,” I thought to myself. “The place needs a makeover. She needs to throw half of this stuff away.”
Soon we arrive at the guest room. She opens the door and beckons me inside. The room, quaint and airy has a lemon scent to it. The country style furniture although outdated looks like it was freshly polished. “I hope you enjoy your stay here,” Lisa said her smile warm. “The towels are in the vanity closet in the bathroom.”
“Thank you,” I said looking around.
“I am so please to finally meet you,” Lisa said.
“It’s nice to finally meet you too,” I said smiling.
“Why don’t you freshen up,” Lisa said. “Dad’s cooking dinner.”
“I will,” I said smiling but inwardly irritated. I didn’t like being told what to do. Lisa, unaware of my annoyance toward her, turns and walks out of the room. She shuts the door behind her, leaving me alone to settle in.
I drop my suitcase on the floor and then inspect the room. First I inspect the bed and then the bathroom, looking for evidence of any four legged little critters lurking near. Ten minutes into my search, I realize there are none and I let out a deep sigh. “No little critters around here,” I said feeling quite relieved.
I then fall on the bed and reality hits me. “Well I’m here,” I said resigned to my lot as I reach for my suitcase. “I might as well make the best of it.” So I unpack my bag and settle in for the long weekend. (This story is dedicated to my sister, Cheryl Dixon-Haskins)