Nancy's been dead for just a few weeks. They flew by. I avoided going into "the residence" until now. Calling it that makes it easier. Farther away. Remote, unreal.
Nancy found her way into our family. She wasn't a part of it the way your best friend is or your priest. She was more like the stray dog you're nice to because that's what you do. She found a place in our home and stuck with it. Just stuck.
She'd come over and let herself in (we never lock our doors.) She never ate anything, even if we had a big meal, just talked and talked. Talked in a way that it didn't matter whether you were listening or participating or not. There was only one side to her conversations. She told us about the way the government was trying to get us dumbed down and that was why kids couldn't do basic math anymore and that was why she refused to have a calculator in the house, even though it hurt to hold a pencil and did we know it hurt to hold a pencil? Because its excruciating, and she's out of her meds but the damn doctor won't give her more unless she comes in to see him. The bastard! He's in on it. The conspiracy with the government. Even her doctor can't do basic math. Can you imagine? A doctor who can't do math.
And on and on like that.
I turn the key in the 7 consecutive locks and step through the door.
The smell knocks me back. I step onto the lawn and breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
One more deep breath and then I step in. I walk the path. Nancy's path. Little more than a foot wide with piles on either side. Some are nearly as high as the ceiling, others are only about waist high.
I make my way through the residence. There's grassy shit on the carpets where the goats were. Or maybe it was the swan. Animal control came out as soon as we got word that Nancy was gone. They removed 5 dogs, 2 goats, and a swan. No cats. Nancy wasn't a cat-person. She always warned us that the barncats were going to be the detah of us. She said she knew cats were plotting against people. Did you know about how they smell your mouth while you're sleeping? They're stealing your life force.
I walk out the way I came in. Its enough for today to just overcome the smell. To just get a dry run through. I promise myself I'll come back. I'll come back.
-- -- -- -- --
It takes me a week to go back. A week of stewing and strategizing. A few days of calling Social Services and the courts trying to find anyone else to do this. But there's no one. Western states can be like that. Small government. They'll have none of it. No involvement, no help. Ironic, given how much Nancy though the government wanted into her house.
The second time, I'm prepared. I have gloves and waders. I wear a gas mask and know what the inside looks like. It makes a difference when you can picture the path. When you spend time ahead of time picturing what ways you'll turn, what things you'll touch.
The kitchen path is elevated. Its got the same mix of trash and unknown on either side but the pathway itself is on magazines. Stacks and stacks of magazines and papers. I pick up an old National Geographic. The 30-year-old-plus kind. The ones we looked through as kids searching for pictures of native women's boobs. I flip through, transported for a moment.
I don't have a plan, not really. I know I need more than one trash bag but its all I bring. I wear the gloves and the mask and the waders but I don't bring more than a trash bag. What did I think a single trash bag would do?
I drop the trash bag and the magazine in the pile and leave. I'll come back. Later.
-- -- -- -- --
I stir in bed, thinking I should get up. Knowing I should get up, really. All the shoulds. And Nancy's house at the top of that list. Not a to do list. A should list. I should start getting rid of her things. Her nest of crap. Hoarders hold on to valuable things right? I turn it over. The things that could be in all those piles. Money shoved in the folds of ancient magazine pages and between mattresses. Jewels stuffed in pillows and under the sink.
And flip, I turn the idea to the other side. The fingernails and skin cells and feathers in layers of crap. The many times Nancy had been unable to pay her bills and had talked about it. People who can't pay their bills don't have money stashed, do they? She was pretty... different. So maybe.
I try this to cajole myself into doing something about "the residence." I feel a familiar twinge in my bladder and squeeze and squirm and then sit still, hoping it'll pass. Once I stand up, I'll commit to some sort of action. Or inaction. I'll either take a shower and get my ass out the door, or I'll go back to reading or watching TV. Maybe I could bake a cake. That's sort of industrious. Less lazy.
I don't do either. I doze. Wiley thoughts cross this level of consciousness. I wake less rested than I was hours ago when I could have had a whole day stretching before me. Effectiveness is slipping as I picture the layers of feces.
Maybe I could just do the magazines today. I picture magazines flying from the back of a pickup truck as I careen down the highway, strewing the truth of the last decades behind me. Would I fit it all in one load? Should I? I flirt with the idea of leaving the residence as it is. The swan comes back. Enjoys the summer on the pond behind Nancy's. The luxury of being a beautiful bird with her own private place to shit indoors.
I picture letting her house rot and compost itself until. Until, what? I die. Until the state changes its mind and cares about my predicament.
Nancy made me the executer of her estate. The executioner of her stuff. The sorter, compiler, decomposer of her state. Why? Because I was there. Because she came over and I didn't send her away. Because my kids listened to her stories or were polite enough even as teenagers that she had a spot. She glued herself to us and I was the closest idea she had to a functional person to take care of details. Glued to her spot. Until she wasn't. My fantasy of ignoring Nancy's crap continues. Exept I butt against a wall when someone steals her identity. I shake it off and get up to pee.
Some magazines today. Just some magazines to the recycling center.
After I pee, though, I don't climb in the shower. I think showering before going would be futile. And not showering before I leave the house is not an option. So I climb back under the covers. Maybe this is an after dark job.