Mack Williams: Move-out
This isn’t a leftover Christmas story, just something which can happen any time; although it did happen a few days before Christmas, 2016.
Any allusion here and there to “The Night Before Christmas” is the result of my “cuteness” (or attempt thereof).
The “after Christmas blues” is legendary, but today’s column concerns a couple’s pre-Christmas “vale.” If you enjoy the feeling of post-Christmas slump, today’s column might make you even feel a bit “slumpier.”
I recently moved into another duplex; and one night, several days before Christmas, there was such an audible row next door, I arose from my bed around 4 a.m. to ascertain what was the matter.
Putting my ear to the wall in an attempt to translating “yelling” into “syntax”, I deduced a major upheaval ( human relationship, not San Andreas).
I didn’t hear: “On Dasher, on Prancer,” but something resembling: “On out the door”(preceded by: “Get the ……(something or other)!”
Instead of chains being rattled and drug up the stairs (“Christmas Dickens”),
I surmised a clothes-filled trunk being drug down them.
The man left first, taking his things; then the woman left, taking hers. She was the renter, but evidently not wanting to remain there with accumulated memories, she followed his “eviction” by “evicting” herself.
This “human relationship catastrophe” occurred a few days after my moving in next door (not my fault, since as far as I know, I don’t have that sort of effect on people).
One of them owned a boxer dog, kept inside. Never seeing it, I heard it once or twice. The dog remained quiet during this “human cacophony” (even a dog knows when to remain on the sidelines).
I never met the couple, and my visual knowledge of the dog was indirect, by virtue of a woven “canine countenance” on their front porch “doggie welcome mat.” It was a boxer, with the same half-sad eyes as those of W.A. Cline III’s late dog, “Bimbo,” whom W.A. won in a poker game. That product of W.A.’s poker-playing prowess became the “neighborhood dog”(due to its wanderings) in that Saint Paul’s Community of the Old Concord Road in the 1950s and 60s.
On the morning following the couple’s separate “wee hour” departures, I saw their discarded Christmas tree lying next to the outdoor garbage can (Christmas still several days away). It would be after Christmas when the trash man came again; so he would assume it was just an early “set to the curb” Christmas tree, removed by those who don’t celebrate the “12 Days;” but I know better( and now, so do you).
Decorative sleigh bells remained attached to a porch railing, reminding me of businesses with announcement bells, ringing when someone enters or leaves. If some final furniture item had nudged those bells during the lady’s last packing trip out, that would have been her “ring of final exit.”
The year-round greenery of a nearby shrub made mistletoe come to mind. In Caswell County, there is a great, but dead oak, filled with at least 30 of those kiss-initiating clumps, once pale green, now black and dead. The likelihood of kissing taking place there now is about the same as that between this split-up couple; but we can always hope (not for the deceased mistletoe’s reanimation, but the troubled couple’s rekindled affection).
I looked down at the “dog-pictorial” welcome mat left at their door. Though I’m sure the owner took the dog; when I saw the mat , I couldn’t help thinking: “They forgot the dog!”
Later that next morning, a lady, looking of right age to be the renter’s mother seemed to be doing a final check for forgotten items from that hasty departure.
She carried a few things to her SUV; and I heard her exclaim into her cellphone as she prepared to drive out of sight: “They really did a number on this place!”