I got a little kick in the butt, per se.
A little proverbial biff on the back of the head.
Someone who reads my blog fairly faithfully (how was I suppose to know?) said he was a little disappointed in it. I laughed and asked if it was the quality or the quantity? It could be either, I know. He laughed, too, and said, “Quantity” and wondered when I was going to get another blog out there.
I’ve been wondering that myself, lately. Inspiration flits in and out before I have a chance to net it and filter it through my fingers. But this past week, we had an interesting occurrence at our house.
I guess you’d call it interesting.
Bizarre, perhaps. With moments verging on comical. Maybe even a little sad, in a way.
On a warm day this past week, my boys had just gotten home from swimming. Hearing the door, I looked out the upstairs window. I noticed there was a car–not our’s–in the drive and an elderly person was just sitting there behind the wheel. I went down and asked Ethan to go out and see what this gentleman needed. We sometimes get people looking for a ‘farmer friend.’ I just peered out the window. (I really like having tall, strong men to tend to things like this.)
As the old man got out, his car alarm went off, and it took Ethan a moment to stop the noise. But soon I saw the two of them headed toward the back of the house, and I stepped out the door to see what the man was needing. Here’s the beginning of the conversation–
Old man:We can’t talk out there [by his car]. The CIA has it all bugged and full of cameras. They’ve been after me for 28 years.
Boing! Red flag! Whoa, Sally! I follow Old Man (O.M.) and Ethan to the back of the house.
O.M.: Now, if you’ll just listen to my story. I have a new theory of evolution. The core of the earth is cooling and it’s pulling away from the earth. . .
My detective instincts kick in. . .as does my Anne of Green Gables imagination. I closely observe his appearance: a day or two of stubble, light blue shirt with bolero string tie, two pens and reading glasses in his shirt pocket, shirt tucked in, belt, black polyester pants and black shoes. Tidy but well-worn clothing. No wedding ring. Eighty? Surely he’s an Alzheimers patient and someone is looking for him. I tune back in. . .
O.M.:. . .so I bought a house in California. And my neighbors accused me of being an atheist, a pedophile, a shoplifter. .
Me: Sir, do you have any family around here? Is there someone you’re looking for?
O.M.: No! No, I just need you to listen to my story. So, let’s see, where was I. So I was going to take some stuff over to my neighbor, and she called out here bathroom window to just come on in. See, they were trying to trick me. . .
Me (to Ethan): Uh, I need to go in the house a minute. You stay and listen to the story. (Ethan looks at me and smiles and nods at O.M.)
Thank goodness for Google! I find the Polk City police department number and give them a call. . .
Me: Uh, this isn’t an emergency. But this old guy just showed up at our house, and he’s talking really crazy. He thinks the CIA is after him, and he wants to tell us all about it.
Thad, another of my tall, strong men, takes the phone outside, and sneaking around the car, gives the officer the numbers on the license plate–from Pennsylvania! The plot thickens! The kind officer then tells me to try to keep the man at our house but don’t force him to stay. Yeah, right. From what I’ve heard of the story, he’s going to be here a while. I meander back outside and give Ethan a knowing look. He’s still nodding and smiling.
O.M.: . . .so I’ve been breeding fruit flies to prove my new theory of evolution.
Me: Sir, uh, how long do you think this story will take?
O.M.: Not long! Just maybe 10 minutes! Let me finish! Now, I had just come out of the men’s room when a young girl, probably 9 or 10, came up and said that the ladies room was locked. So I told her to go ahead and use the men’s and I would stand guard. But, see, they were trying to test me. They thought I was a pedophile. Then I asked a woman to go dancing with me. And, well, we got there and there was a hot tub! Well, that looked pretty good! So we just went skinny dipping. . .
Oh wow! Don’t really want to know where this story is going! Please, Lord, let that police officer show up soon! How long can it take to get out here from Polk City?
O.M.: So we just drank some screwdrivers. . .
Hurray! My Polk City man in blue comes striding to my rescue! I smile thankfully as O.M. takes a step back, his face becoming a bit flushed. . .
O.M.: (angry and raising his voice) You! Why are you here? I’m not talking to you! You’re with the CIA. I’m not telling you anything because you already know it!
Officer: No, sir. No, I don’t even know you. Can I see your license please?
O.M. actually gives the officer his license but continues to rant and accuse the officer of CIA spying. The officer calmly tries to defuse the situation but whispers into his nifty collar-level walkie-talkie-thingy, “Step it up.” Wow! This is becoming ‘a situation.’ He just called for back-up! The officer tries to convince the O.M. to come around to the front of the house, but O.M. insists that the CIA will hear everything, and he absolutely won’t come out. Back up arrives–Polk County Sheriff–and it happens to be a young man I know, small world! Now both of them are getting ‘the story.’ Yes, all of it, again, from the very beginning. I see surpressed smiles and knowing looks between the officers. Ethan and I slip away, but I wait within ear-shot. I want to hear how they convince this man that they’re not CIA informants.
Flash forward an hour: I now have three police vehicles blocking my driveway–Polk City Police, Polk County Sheriff, and Polk County Ranger. Quickly, my Anne of Green Gables thoughts go something like this: I sure hope no one drives by. . . Good grief! What’s going on at the Subras? Looks like it’s a drug bust or something–ranger’s there. . .hmmm, and they seemed like such a nice family. I would have never thought. . .
They have convinced O.M. to come back to his car. They’ve searched his car. They now know that he came by bus from Virginia and rented this car in Des Moines. He’s 88. I’ve come inside but continue to peer out and hear snatches of the continuing ‘story.’ He even produces documents about his testing with fruit flies.
I begin to wonder about this poor fellow. His ramblings sounded, to me, like snatches of memory from a lively and, well, interesting life. At times he sounded quite intelligent if not coherent. Was this the mind of a once highly educated man just simply worn out and lost in a maze of vibrant memories and meticulous details? Or was this a man who has always been bent on crazy? He said he was a WW II veteran. Had something happened there? He shared no memories of that. Was someone, anyone, looking for him or was he completely alone in the world?
Police: Sir, so do you have any family we can contact?
O.M.: No! I told you! I CAN’T have any family! The CIA won’t let me!
No answers. Any questions they posed to him, he always had some bizarre response. I peek out again. He’s been here an hour and a half. The ranger left and a man dressed in casual work clothes (I call him The Mediator) shows up. Also, a big, black labrador with a green collar circles and weaves in and out of the group of men. My thought: Must be the sheriff’s dog. He probably decided he needed to let the poor thing out of the car. I’m really surprised he doesn’t keep him on a lease. Yeah, now he’s up on the porch slobbering on my furniture.
I step out, shoo the very friendly dog off the porch, and coax him toward the men. I catch the sheriff’s eye and ask, “Is this your dog?” “No, we thought he was your’s.”
Great! I have a stray man and a stray dog at my house all in one day! The sheriff collars the dog, checks the tag, and finds a name and phone number. Perfect! He calls the owner to come retreive the dog. I laugh to myself, “That guy’s gonna totally freak out when he pulls up and sees three law enforcement vehicles!”
I suddenly realize I better call Tess before she turns onto our road and sees all the police cars in the drive. She is her mother’s daughter (Anne’s imagination), and she’ll run hysterically down the drive sobbing. Fortunately, we were able to avoid that scene, and she sneaks in the back way. As I filled her in on the strange-but-true details, we heard. . .
Mediator: (voice raised) We don’t want to hear anymore of your story! It’s interesting, and I’m sure someone would like to hear it. But you’re tresspassing and you need to get off this property!
O.M.: (very angry) Well, if they didn’t want to hear my story, they should have just told me to leave. . .
Really?! That’s all? Two hours and fifteen minutes later. Four law enforcement personnel. All I needed to do was ask him to leave? I was sure the police would find some report for a missing grandpa or a patient from a veterans hospital. He needed help, and God sent him across my path to help him, right?
No. Not at all. The officers did as much checking as they could. No missing person reports. He wasn’t violent. No weapons. No drugs. He rented the car, and he had money to get by on. They couldn’t hold him for anything. If he came back, I was to call 911, and they would arrest him for trespassing.
So what am I suppose to do with this blip on the radar screen of my simple life? There are no accidents. There are no coincidences. This is a two and a half-hour snapshot of a sad, perhaps lost, definitely crazy from this side of his world, old, man. Did God bring him down my driveway because this was the safest place for him to be at that point in time? I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll ever know. I guess it makes for an interesting blog post. . .maybe.
They all backed out the drive, and the officers followed the O.M. down the road. And the dog? Yeah, I don’t get the part about the dog either. . .