I once heard someone say that Irish people like the rain. I’m Irish, and when I was younger I did enjoy a long walk in the rain with my sweetie. But this rain was making my sweetie grumpy, and I’m here to tell you that this rain was not appreciated by anyone except the dogs, both of whom would have been perfectly happy sitting outside in the rain all day long.
Once again we could do nothing interesting outside, so we did what anyone in our situation would do: we went to Walmart.
Now if there’s anything in the world that will make me grumpier than a grumpy sweetie, it’s being in Walmart. Being in Walmart with the Queen Sweetie of Grump? Let’s just say that I’ve had more fun at the dentist. Actually I get good drugs at the dentist, so that statement isn’t very revealing. Let’s forgo the usual descriptive analogies and cut to the chase:
Walmart was under construction.
We were there to buy my mother a new TV. The entire TV section in Walmart was dismantled. What could be better than shopping in Walmart? Shopping in Walmart where nothing is on display, no one knows where anything is, and no one seems to care. Did I mention the grumpy wife? Pure shopping bliss.
I finally got the TV, bought a wireless access point for my mother’s house, threw it all in a cart and paid. I figured the day could only get better from here, since Walmart Hell was now behind us.
I tried to lighten the mood a bit and suggested that we go check out the Hot Dog place in town. Lauren had printed a coupon back home and thought it looked pretty interesting. She agreed, and we went to downtown Plymouth, parked the car, and walked up to find the restaurant closed. Naturally, there was a Subway across the street. Lauren, still grumpy due to our vacation being about as much fun as a trip to Walmart, stewed quietly while we ate our sandwiches in what was becoming our fast food restaurant of choice.
My mother liked her new TV, though I think the rain (and probably dogs) were getting to her too. I installed the wireless access point, and watched as my entire family buried their faces into electronic devices to get a fix of digital heroin. I knew the instant I saw the glow from laptops, iPods and iPhones lighting up everyone’s face, that the computers were only accomplishing one thing, and that was to allow us to be completely isolated together as a family in a single room. Somehow the remoteness of NH with its lack of Internet and cell service no longer seemed like such a bad thing.
On the way back to our remote rental house for the night, Lauren and I returned to the 24-hour Walmart because, frankly, it was the only place within 100 miles that was open at 10pm. I had decided to get my mother a new DVD player that would work better with the new TV, and we realized that everyone had eaten dinner but us. Lauren, in an effort to combat the grumpies, bought some frozen Mexican food, some limes, and some beer. It was party time!
After we got home and took the enthusiastic beasts for a walk, we settled in with our feast of Walmart frozen food and beer. Our raging party was cut short, when after only a few minutes, Lauren and I both looked at each other in alarm. We had both heard the noise. We both knew that something was wrong. Communicating the way that couples do after 15 years of marriage, neither of us had to say a word.
There was someone upstairs.
As Lauren and I stared at each other, we heard the noise again. The dogs, who bark at anything and everything when we don’t want them to, sat there with that quizzical, ears twitched back, did you hear something look on their faces. Apparently the intruder wasn’t a zombie, so they didn’t know how to react.
I am a security freak. I lock doors when I walk through them, I close windows when they’re open, and I can’t drive anywhere unless the car doors are locked. I had been talked out of traveling with an arsenal of weapons since all the spare room in the van was consumed by large, drooling, useless dogs.
- Four inch pocket knife of death-dealing sharpness – check
- Insanely bright pocket flashlight – check. Yes, I always have a flashlight in my pocket. Laugh if you must, but it has proven it’s worth countless times such as this.
- Vicious, well-trained, terrifying attack dog…
Well, Guinness was an imposing figure, and would have been great for this covert field work, being all black and all, but he also had a limpy leg. He was useless unless I could bring the enemy to him, preferably in manageable pieces so he didn’t have to get up. That left Annie the wonder-dog. Maybe she could annoy the intruder to death by eating his garbage and endlessly nudging his tentacles with her nose. I stood up, pulled out the knife and light, and went to the stairs.
“Let’s go Annie”
She looked at me as if to say, um… no.
How could I have been so stupid! There were no zombies upstairs. There were obviously thirty or more bug-eyed, grey-skinned aliens, lurking in the shadows just beyond the top corner of the stairs. Clearly one of them had dropped their portable probulator on the stairs, then ran down to retrieve it, thus explaining both noises we had heard. Damn my pacifist wife for not letting me bring the flame-thrower!
As I pulled the coffee table from the base of the stairs, Annie bravely sniffed my hand wondering why I hadn’t given her the taquito yet. Thinking I was the smartest alien hunter ever, I tossed the taquito up the stairs then stepped aside so as not to get bowled over by Annie as she ran past me to retrieve it. She looked at me quizzically, snorted in disgust, and sat on her haunches. The look on her face said it all. What the Hell is wrong with you? I thought you were going to give me that?
Swell. At least my hand was now free to hold the pocket knife. With a quick “C’mon Annie”, I started up the stairs. I could have sworn I saw her shoulders shrink a little in what seemed to be a deep sigh as she resigned herself to walk upstairs for a bit of warmed-over Walmart Mexican food. That’s my girl—loyal companion to the end.
As I got to the top of the stairs, I swung my body wide around the corner so that the aliens couldn’t grab me by surprise. My powerful flashlight beam showed that the landing at the top of the stairs was surprisingly devoid of aliens, or anyone else for that matter. Annie sniffed the taquito, bored with the whole affair. I opened the door to the bedroom and shined the light in, ready for hand to tentacle combat with a battalion of intruders. It seemed empty. I reached down, grabbed the taquito and tossed it in. Annie seemed to sigh again and followed me into the bedroom as I clicked on the room light.
I looked under the bed, in the bathroom, in the closet, and in the storage space over the bathroom. All empty. Annie sniffed the new room while I cleared the room of nonexistent threats. As I concluded my search, I noticed that Annie was sniffing one spot on the rug with great interest. I figured this was the magic pee spot and pulled her away before I had something else to write about. Grabbing the still-uneaten taquito, I called Annie out of the room and shut the door.
The basement was next. Since the basement stairs were directly under the stairs I had just cleared, the possibility of spider-like aliens sticking to the underside of the steps was a real possibility. Since nothing deals with gravity-defying spider-monsters better than a flame thrower, I opened the door, tossed the taquito down the stairs, waited for my secondary weapon of choice to charge the stairs. That was the last straw for Annie. She plopped down on the carpet with a humpf, clearly telling me that I was now hunting alone.
The basement was also mysteriously devoid of aliens, zombies, or boogeymen of any kind. There was a mess as a result of some idiot throwing mexican food down the stairs, but not so much as a spider, let alone a swarm of spider-alien hybrids. I pondered the idea that we had been eating food that my garbage-eating dog wouldn’t touch while I cleaned up the stairs and went back to dinner.
There was no one upstairs, there was no one downstairs, and we never heard the sound again. Stupid aliens. The only consolation for this “vacation” day was that was that my mother had a new TV. Oh, and our rental house was now known to be devoid of aliens, spiders and the abominable spider-alien hybrids, so there was that, which was nice.