#AtoZChallenge April 7, 2018, Garage Door and Garbage Cans
26 posts. 26 days. And 26 letters of the alphabet, one post beginning with each letter, in April.
Follow me as we visit the not-quite-normal retirement village of Twilight, Arizona, where reality clashes with the unexplained.
Garage Door and Garbage Cans
Gerritt Kuipers pulled on the garage door without success. It remained stuck in the up position despite his best efforts. At age eighty-nine, his best efforts bordered on the pathetic.
“Maybe a little oil, yes?” asked his wife, Madelien, from her position at the kitchen door. She wiped her hands on a dish towel. In their seventy years together, he’d rarely seen her without a towel or sponge in her hands. He swore she’d been born cleaning.
Gerritt surveyed the spring mechanism in the growing darkness. “I’m no longer six foot tall, my love. I’d need a ladder.” He turned away and shook his head. “I thought my days of ladders and home repairs were over.”
Madelien rubbed the towel over the screen, though she’d scrubbed it the week before. “Why do you want the garage shut? We’ve not shut it in years.”
Gerritt waved in the direction of the condo units across the green courtyard. “Janice told me there’s been some thieves in the area. They’ve been taking wheels and tires off cars.”
“Who would want a used tire?” The towel slipped over the doorknob as she polished it.
He shrugged. “Stranger things.” He glanced again at the spring. “Maybe a little oil.”
“I’ve baking spray,” Madelien volunteered.
“It’ll have to do.” He’d never been mechanical and owned the minimum of tools. He’d have to take the car out and go to the Walmart to buy 3in1 oil.
Madelien disappeared into the kitchen then returned a minute later holding a can of baking spray. The kitchen door twanged behind her then her slippers flapped on the concrete garage floor.
“Do you think it will spray far enough to reach it?” She handed him the can.
He shrugged again and uncapped the spray. Holding it at arm’s length, he aimed and sprayed the length of the spring.
“Might have to let it sit a while,” he said, handing the can to her.
“Can you take out the garbage while you wait?”
Gerritt retrieved the thirteen-gallon bag from the kitchen and shuffled to the alley.
“Watch that door doesn’t bang down on your head,” Madelein called as he ducked under the garage door.
Gerritt waved away her concern and nudged the cracked garbage lid open with his foot.
Sixty years earlier, the designers of Twilight Retirement Village envisioned a clean, antiseptic look for their neighborhood. Every palm tree was perfectly placed, no clotheslines displayed flapping underwear, and garbage cans were sunk in the ground so only their lids showed.
Gerritt dropped in the half-empty bag. He kicked the lid over it, but he must have had more strength than he realized. The cover bounced off the side of the house, rose in the air like a pop fly in the bottom of the ninth inning and landed in the middle of the alley in two pieces.
“Wonderful.” He shook his head as he bent to pick them up. Now he’d have to drive to the Ace Hardware and get a new one.
His bad luck continued. First tire thieves, then the garage door stuck, and now a cracked lid. He supposed coyotes would paw through his trash during the night and he’d have to clean up the mess in the morning.
Gerritt threw the pieces away and reentered the garage. He stood for a moment looking at the spring, willing it to move, hoping to have one good thing happen in his favor, but it refused to cooperate.
“For heaven’s sake, don’t stand under the door,” Madelein shouted from inside.
He threw up his hands in exasperation and decided to see what the TV networks had to offer instead.
* * *
A gigantic bang woke him in the middle of the night. Gerritt sat upright, his heart throbbing and his ears working overtime to locate the sound’s source.
“What was that?” Madelein asked, clutching his arm. “Thunder?”
“Wrong time of the year.” He swung his legs over the side of the bed and fumbled for his slippers. “I think it was the garage door.”
Had the baking spray worked? Why had the door crashed?
Madelein snapped on the bedside light and grabbed her robe. “Is it the burglars? Better if you take a weapon, Gerry.”
A puff of laughter escaped from him. “What? I should hit them with a cane? I’m not as strong as I used to be.” If he was a betting man, he’d bet against himself in a contest with their six-month old great-grandson.
“Probably the spring broke. I can’t believe how it’s held up this long.”
He flicked on more lights and they shuffled down the hall. He opened the door to the garage and peered into the gloom.
“See anything?” Madelien asked, grabbing his arm.
“No burglars.” He reached above the car and pulled on the chain for the overhead light.
As he suspected, the oil had loosened the door spring. The aging parts had flown apart, releasing the garage door. Wires and metal pieces lay strewn across the back of the garage, peppering the floor and his car.
“Wonderful,” he groaned. Why had his luck turned? What was he to do now? He supposed he’d have to call the insurance company in the morning . . .
What company did they use?
Where had he filed the papers? The agent had been young, probably worked there after high school.
“Gerry, I think there’s a foot under the door.”
He turned, not comprehending his wife’s words, and followed her shaking finger to the outside corner of his crumpled garage door.
A shoe wedged under its bottom edge. As he moved closer, he thought he saw something in the shoe.
He blinked to clear his eyes then wiped at them.
“Burglars?” she whispered.
“I don’t know.” His heart stopped. Had some damn fool burglar tripped their garage door opener while he tried to steal car tires?
Gerritt backed away. “I’ll have to look.”
The condo layout didn’t allow service doors directly from garage to the outside. He had to go through the bedroom, Arizona room, and back deck to reach the alley.
The motion detection light popped on. Gerritt held his breath as he looked around the corner.
He turned to Madelien. “Call the police. We have the answer to the car tire burglaries.”
His foot cut off by the force of the garage door slamming onto it, a young man lay on the ground, a car jack and tire iron beside him. He’d jumped or been thrown backward and had landed head first in the open garbage can.
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Twilight, Arizona, all the stories now available on Amazon
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Next Monday, #AtoZChallenge April 9, 2018, Hand Over the Baby
A thirty-year-old memory stays alive for Twilight resident Hazel Childress.
Until then, blessings,