Maybe it was just apophenia, but there always seemed to be a dull whirr in the air when Lois was preparing to make one of her near daily visits from next door. One’s limbs grew heavy. Things began to move slowly, as though the atmosphere had been replaced by hydraulic oil. A more reliable indicator was the large kitchen window through which we could make routine assessments of the things happening at their house. They’d helpfully denuded a large swath of their yard of all but a few shrubs and a couple of rosebushes that Lois would pretend to prune for a few moments while looking over our way, trying to decide whether to mix things up with her childrens’ spouses, or branch out a little and fuck up our day.
Arthritic and unaccustomed to much walking she’d begin to pick her way down the track worn between the two houses when she was still learning the art of bridge demolition from her (according to local legend) doubly insane mother.
If I was watching dishes and looking out the window, my heads-up to Tammie would be something like’ “Gaah. Oh fuck. She’s headed this way again.” I might contemplate removing a fork from the dishwater and jabbing it in my forehead before the merciful onset of catatonia.
Tammie, if she happened to be washing the dishes, was more terse. “Forget what you’re doing. It’s stumble-puss.”
We had a guest over one weekend, and Lois had already made several brief visits. We were sick with dread because we knew the marathon was brewing. I forget which one of us hit on the idea of going to look for a fried seafood place, far away, open all hours because it was that goddamned good. We poured the remains of a carafe of coffee in a Thermos, grabbed the six of Mickey’s Big-Mouths (or was it Hoffenreffer?) our guest had brought as a joke, and left the driveway just as Lois was beginning to worm through the assortment of rusted farm implements her son dumped artfully in the yard.
I’d always wanted to follow the road Cornwallis’ army took on its way to Yorktown to be trapped by the Comte de Grasse and Washington anyway, and we were just a half mile or so from it. The light was just beginning to fade on the day when we approached the intersection. A man who had likely emerged from the tiny shack pictured here met us in the center of the road, in a linebacker stance. When we slowed down and swerved to try and avoid him, he shifted his position accordingly.

I can’t remember if I was driving at that point, but whoever it was, was forced to back the car up and drive with the car straddling the right of way to make it around him. He had good reflexes, apparently undiminished by whatever shoe polish, Sterno, or radiator-strained hooch he’d been annihilating his horse-sense with.
“Motherfucking neighbors.” Said Tammie.
When we’d made it a little distance away, We stopped the car and left the six of Mickeys by the side of the road, partly in appreciation of his gifts, partly as a gesture of supplication to the gods, who obviously weren’t entirely on board with the idea of our road trip.

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