My parents came to visit on my days off. And by “visit” I mean it’s very likely that Dad wanted to do some touching-up with the paint from the job we did when I moved in. When he was done for the day, losing the light, he wanted a beer. I hadn’t bought any. Which was sort of deliberate, because I tend to think my father drinks a little more than he should. I offered him a martini instead – his preferred brand of vodka (counter-intuitive, I know), but he didn’t want that. He wanted to know where he could go buy beer.
Well, I don’t drink beer, my wine gets shipped to me, and I buy my vodka at the store across the street from work. So I have no idea whether any of the little corner shops in my neighborhood sell beer. And the places that do sell it are not places I’d like to go, if you know what I mean. They’re a little beyond the borders of where I’d be comfortable wandering. My father is 6’4″, 230 lbs, and, though aging, not necessarily someone you want to poke. I’m a girl.
See what I’m saying?
Point is, Dad insisted on going out to see if he could find beer.
Literally wandering the streets looking for beer.
Shortly after he’d left (blessedly not wearing pajamas, although we may not be far from that), I noticed that my neighbor, Pedro, was outside. I went out and asked if he knew donde esta el cerveza.
He asked his friend, in Spanish, and translated for me. I knew the place he spoke of. It was not a place I wanted to go.
But my father was out wandering the streets. Unfamiliar streets. In search of beer.
So I went. Got stared at. Got sweet-talked. Got six bottles of Coors Light, cold, in a bag. Note: not a six-pack – that comes in its own box. This is just six loose, cold beers in a black plastic bag. Then I went home. I was a little concerned I might have to go driving around looking for my father, but he returned two minutes after me.
He had found the place I should have known about. The place where I probably wouldn’t have gotten sweet-talked. I’ll remember that for next time.
After dinner (where Dad had his fifth beer, and a glass of wine), we settled on watching the rerun of the first episode of Downton Abbey, season 3. I like the show a lot, and my mother loves it, but Dad grumbled about it being so… British. Still, they were immersed in its story when the police chopper started circling a couple of blocks over.
This was what I had worried about: after two months of quiet, we would have some sort of epic crime battle unfolding on the first night my parents came to stay. I think my mother noticed the sound of the helicopter, but she didn’t say anything.
They went to bed at 10pm and I stayed up to watch a movie. “The Sessions,” starring Helen Hunt and William H. Macy. It’s about a sexual surrogate working with a man long-stricken with polio and essentially completely paralyzed except for one key part of his body. It’s actually a very sweet film, very poignant, and based on a true story.
At around 11pm, the chopper was back.
Oh, come on.
Circling… circling… cirrrrclliiiiiiinnnnnng…
Maybe Mom & Dad’s dueling C-PAP machines will drown out the sound. Of the chopper. And the movie. About the sexual surrogate and the client, who talks to the priest all the time about trying to have sex.
I don’t know which thing I’d least like my parents to hear.
Forty-five minutes later, the chopper was still chopping around. I was rolling my eyes. Catch him already! For crying out loud!
Oh for fuck’s sake.
An hour and fifteen minutes. Movie’s over. Sex has been had. Helen Hunt has been naked a lot. Full frontal. Full dorsal. No cellulite.
I hate her.
Chopper’s still circling.
Gah. You guys suck at catching bad people.
An hour and a half. I’m in bed. It seems like other choppers have joined in, but that’s probably really just the medical units flying back and forth to the two major trauma centers nearby.
On and on this search went. I wondered what this guy had done.
I wondered why the cops were apparently so bad at finding him.
I wondered when they’d finally give up so I could stop worrying. Not about some bad guy breaking into my house, no. About my parents hearing it and figuring out what was going on and, from then on, worrying that I’d bought a house in a terrible neighborhood.
Which I didn’t. It just ain’t the pastoral suburbs.
The birds finally peeled off about two hours after the search began. I have no idea whether they actually caught the guy. I have no idea what he did. You’d think I’d be worried.
Meh. I’m used to the city. Mine is not a bad neighborhood, but it’s not a far distance from one. You’ll hear sirens, because there’s a main thoroughfare just above my house, and because of the trauma centers nearby. But it’s a city.
This morning, I asked my parents how they slept.
“Really?” I said carefully. “You didn’t wake up at all?”
“Well, I always wake up to roll over, but otherwise, no.”
Huh. No sign they had any awareness of the manhunt the night before. Only the marks from the straps of their C-PAP machines lingered on their faces. Completely unaware that a criminal had been on the loose nearby in the midnight hour.
Apparently, the dangers of alcohol and apnea put you at risk of not only dying in your sleep, but also of being murdered in your bed.