The severe weather warning sounded on my phone. I turned it off without looking down. Distractions were not appreciated as the sky turned dark and heavy rain started to pelt the windshield. I was heading to the safest place in Indiana under the predicted conditions; a trailer nestled in a park with many other trailers.
This was a visit that needed to be done before my vacation. I didn’t have time to wait out the storm or to reschedule for the next week. There was a quote about taking the path of least resistance that came to mind but I couldn’t remember the last part of it.
Anyways, if a tornado were to hit, there wouldn’t be any pesky foundation to stop us from going airborne. So taking the path of least resistance must be a good thing- I imagined if we were in the way of a tornado, we would be lifted up, swirled around and set back down. No bigs, right?
I arrived just as the sky turned an eerie green and the wind died leaving the trailer park silent. The tornado warning siren cut through the air, deafening all of the ears within hearing range.
On further consideration, this home visit was probably not going to have a great ending.
A ferocious honey colored dog greeted me at the screen door, snarling. Its teeth were barred and the fur between its shoulders stood straight up, stegosaurus style. My can of pepper spray was in the car where it could be most helpful to me in an attack/assault type of situation. I sighed, this was really not going to end well.
Then a woman emerged from within the dwelling with a lit cigarette dangling from her thin lips. She grabbed the dog’s metal choke collar and pulled back with a yank.
She said, “Queenie, this is a good friend. Stop it.”
We had somehow completely skipped the acquaintance stage and gone straight to friends. At that rate, we would be family by next week and the holidays were about to get very complicated.
“C’mon in and don’t mind our mess.”
Whenever someone says that, I know it means the home is either immaculate or a disaster zone. There is never a happy medium type of situation to back up that statement.
Once again, this proved to be true. I walked in cautiously and looked for a clear space to sit. We had paperwork to complete but the table was covered with Arby’s roastbeef sandwiches, foil, fries, and stacks of papers.
“You caught us in the middle of lunch,” she said stubbing out her smoke.
She picked up a half eaten sandwich to resume where she had last left off. Queenie growled at me from a rug by the door.
“Don’t worry about her. She takes a while to warm up to strangers,” the woman explained which did little to reassure me that Queenie wasn’t about to lunge for my throat.
The possibilities of this visit were endless, a dog bite, tornado ride, COPD/lung cancer, and then a new threat ran at top speed into the living room.
A small, dirty, shirtless boy with spikey hair charged out from a backroom with plastic Hulk hands on yelling, “Hulk smash!” as he ran towards a dozing woman sitting on a stained plaid couch.
He jumped onto the cushion next to the woman and started punching her with the gloves. Surprisingly enough, the woman did not resist the Hulk inspired blows. In a flat voice, she said, “No, don’t,” and weakly tried to defend herself.
What strange reality is this, I wondered.
An hour later, I left with the paperwork finished and about six Marlboro Red cigarettes smoked secondhand, completely unsure of the number of people who were there as different faces continued to appear and disappear from the backroom.
I was a cloud of smoke as I made my way back to my car, never so grateful for the fresh air.
In the meantime, the storm cleared and I remembered the rest of the quote.
The path of least resistance leads to crooked rivers and crooked men.
Or in this case, just a trailer full of smoke.