Thursday, May 28, 2015

Part 138

Had a lot of time to think today.  Too much time.

There was an old lady at our church that Dad would grumble about all the time.  When he got particularly bad Mom would pinch him for being rude about the elders.  Funny I should remember that.  Dad and Mom didn't fight but they could get irritated with each other.  Maybe I would have noticed more as I got older but I honestly don't remember them ever fighting or even raising their voices at each other.  Dad did like to irritate Mom and then laugh and Mom could give as good as she got when in the mood.  They were both good sports most of the time but about this old lady, for some reason Mom really didn't like Dad's attitude.  I think the old lady used to babysit Toddie or something like that or maybe she was some distant relation to Mom, I don't know.  Anyway I sat with Dad too many times and listened to his side of things when he would come in beat up from a bad day at work.  Mom took care of him but I guess sometimes he just needed me and our ritual late night secret snack the same way Mom needed Toddie and their ritual of getting the decorations down the day after Thanksgiving ... it was tradition, something to count on, and basically just one of those strange parent things you aren't supposed to understand until you're a parent.

This particular old lady was a lot of trouble for Dad and the other deputies.  She called the cops all the time ... if she couldn't find one of her cats after checking for like five minutes out the front door only when the cop got there they'd find it sitting on the back porch.  If someone was in her parking space at church on Wednesday nights you better pray you had a handicap tag on your car otherwise you were in for it even if it was just an accident.  If she thought someone was "stepping out" on their spouses because "there might be a murder when the spouse found out about it" and you knew that she'd be the one telling.  If she heard noises in the middle of the night it meant something must be going on; and, if she didn't hear noise in the middle of the night, it was too quiet so something must be going on.  Children playing in the road in front of her house, children playing too loud in the park that was behind her house.  It was always the kind of stuff that took Dad and the other deputies away from the serious stuff like burglaries, domestic calls, drunks, and stuff like that but if they hadn't answered her calls and it was something real it would have been bad.

I don't know why I'm thinking about all of that stuff except this woman was just ... geez ... she was just I don't know what.  All I know is that I don't want to turn into her if I manage to live as long as she had.  For all I know she is still alive; I can't imagine a puss brain really wanting to get close enough to chomp on her ... she was liable to chomp first.  She wasn't what you would call a happy person - completely pessimistic to be honest - and I remember she kept predicting to anyone who would listen that I'd never see my next birthday because I was such a runt, sick all the time, that my brain was miswired, you name it.  I think that more than anything really bothered Dad.  And all those useless memories bubbling to the surface only because I remembered what she used to say when people asked how she was doing:  "I guess you can get used to anything."

That's how I've felt all day today.  I guess you can get used to anything ... whether you like it or not.  Unfortunately it seems that I've gotten used to being around people again.  I warned myself and warned myself all along that this could happen if I wasn't careful.  And now I realize that I've started letting my guard down and worse ... caring about them.  I should know better.  How many times does something have to happen before the lesson sticks permanently?  You let people in you are going to get hurt.  I feel ten kinds of stupid but I don't know how to turn it off now that it has started up again.

I miss Sgt. Shelly's quiet confidence and always knowing what to tell people to do.  I miss Gayle being around because even though she was way too easily irritated it turns out that she is just as fast to get irritated for you as at you.  I miss Lucy's acceptance.  She was the first, and she believes in me in a way the others don't.  Believe it or not I even miss Josie.  She makes me uncomfortable, not because we are so different but because I'm finding too many ways we are similar.  But in a way because of that she understands me better than the others do.  It doesn't stop her from picking at me but I'm learning to live with that too.  It is like having four un-asked for older sisters or aunties.  I'm not sure I want that kind of pressure.

They left out early this morning after an oversized lecture where the four of them told me what to do, what not to do, what to watch out for, etc.  I know they meant well but it said a lot about how little confidence they have in me ... or at least in my survival skills.  Now granted I'm not Daniel Boone or Mountain Man or even a mountain woman but I can do for myself just fine.  Unless of course I run into a horde.  The way my luck is ...

Today has been fairly quiet.  I did have a run in with a puss brain but it was sad rather than scary.  It ... he ... was probably one of those that escaped from the places they were being moved to from urban areas east of the Mississippi.  Someone had done a number on him.  I'm not sure if it was done by the scientists as they tried to find a way to minimize the risks of the infecteds' violence, if some cruel people had caught him and tortured him for sport, or if there had been some kind of accident and the infected has healed it enough to hide it from being obvious.

He had no teeth.  And no fingernails either.  He looked worse than those pictures in the history books of places like prisoner of war internment camps.  The clothes he had on hung like rags; his skin wasn't much better.

I was down at the creek gathering some wild food for a couple of experiments.  When I realized what was hung up in some elderberry shrubs - he didn't even have enough energy to push his way through - I don't think I've ever felt so sorry for a puss brain and I've seen some pretty sorry things happen to them.  It was like a wreck that was so bad you just couldn't look away.  There's no way he posed any direct danger to me but I knew I couldn't let him contaminate the water source.  Where puss brains are concerned there are very few I feel badly about releasing from their misery but this one is probably going to stick with me for a long time.  This one was as bad as having to deal with a kid puss brain and that's pretty bad.

I burnt the body on the ashes of the previous pyre after making note of any identifying marks, hair color, and all that on the form we have to fill out.  It's been bothering me ever since even though I try not to wonder where it ... he ... came from and who could have done that to him.  I can't start pitying them.  I've got a job to do.  There's no making them better.  Whoever they used to be is long gone and they pose a threat to society that is so big it nearly destroyed our country ... and has destroyed others.  As a group their deeds are too horrific to excuse, even out of pity.  But there are individual puss brains that just get to you; especially when you know that they've suffered too.

Depressing.  But I guess you can get used to anything.  Because it didn't stop me from doing what I had to do which is put the puss brain out of its misery - and mine - and find some way to extend our patrol's food supply.


  1. Thanks for the new chapters Kathy.sorry that your father is not doing as well expected, You are all in our payers

  2. Thanks for the new chapters Kathy.sorry that your father is not doing as well expected, You are all in our payers