Only one box was left in the attic. I had no idea of what it was or if I had even packed it up. The cardboard sides bulged and seemed worn. Like the rest of them it hadn’t been touched since my last move. Really, I shouldn’t be moving of them, but throwing them out. The labels on them told of memories too precious to discard, so I would drag them with me once more. Photo albums, my wedding dress, dried flowers from long forgotten bouquets and even my senior prom corsage were carefully ensconced.
This last box wasn’t the same size either, so intrigued, I decided it must have been left behind by the tenant before me. Grabbing it, I hefted it up. Good God it was heavy, no wonder the sides looked like they would burst. Cursing the weight, I almost dropped it before easing it down to the floor once more and proceeding to shove it across the rough boards toward the trapdoor leading downstairs.
“Hey Bruce!” I yelled, knowing my boyfriend was somewhere below supervising the moving company employees who were removing the heavier pieces of furniture. All the other boxes of kitchen appliances, pots, pans, and dishes were already on the truck. There were a few more left in the bedroom, sturdy wardrobe boxes full of my designs, and plastic zippered bags of bedding and curtains.
“Yoh, sweetheart, have you got all the stuff from up there?” He sounded impatient.
“Yup, just this last heavy monster to get down, can you come help?”
His head poked up through the floor.
“That doesn’t look like one of ours.” His muscles bunched as he pulled it toward himself. “What the fuck is in it?”
“No clue, I don’t want to leave it behind though, we promised the landlord a clean sweep”
“Alright, but it’s going to come with us with the rest of our valuables. This one is going in the car.” Bruce looked as curious as I was.
My six foot four lover grunted as he took the weight of the box in his arms, moving it from step to step on the ladder like rungs of the folding stairs, he’d climbed a moment before.
“I’m not sure I want to leave this for later,” I said.
“Lizzy, we need to make sure we get out of here by noon. It’s eleven already. We’ll save it for the hotel tonight.” Bruce was ever practical.
I rolled my eyes but nodded. The landlord was a bit of an ass, and he’d charge us for another month if we were even a second late.
“What ever it is, Mr. Impossible to deal with, doesn’t deserve to have it.” I acquiesced.
We’d been parading household goods out the front door since before six, and I knew we were almost done. Our move across the states to Louisiana was a daring chance to bring his family business back to life. His mother had called a month ago, begging for him to come home. His sister had disappeared after emptying all the business accounts. All she had left was her home and the stock of the antique store. Minus the jewellery displays of course.
I knew in my bones, when I met Angie at Thanksgiving dinner, she wasn’t what she seemed. She was too much if you understand what I mean. Too polite, too attentive to her mother’s wishes, too much the dutiful daughter. Did she think I didn’t notice the eye rolls behind Faye’s back? The subconscious stab of the carving knife in her mother’s direction when she cleared the table after dinner?
I remember the conversation we had, Bruce and I, after Faye called to tell us what happened. She was in tears as she was convinced Angie changed. Bruce reassured his mother, telling her we’d be more than happy to move to his hometown. The bones of the business were good, it shouldn’t take much to resurrect it.
I pulled the front door closed at 11:55 with a satisfying thunk. God it was good to say goodbye to this little piece of hell. I loved Baltimore, the Orioles especially, but more to the point, my designs were going nowhere here. The politicians, the senator’s wives, weren’t inclined to wear anything but the newest Versace or Chanel. They couldn’t see past the outrageous price and bragging rights for having discovered a latest look before the others who ran in that crowd. The elegance of a garment designed to highlight their best features, never crossed their radar.
Mr. Impossible-to-deal-with arrived thirty seconds later. I’d taken pictures of the spotless spaces on my Canon. Time and date stamped for proof. I knew he’d find a dozen different ways to nickel and dime us out of our security deposit, and I knew Cassie would nail his ass in small claims later. I’d promised to come back with her bridal gown in the fall, I’d stay to make the last second adjustments, and then be her maid of honor. I’d also be there for the court case I knew was in the offing.
Bruce closed the hatchback on our SUV and came to stand beside me. I was so pleased I hadn’t renewed the lease in November and now we were going to be out of there and into our new place before Valentine’s day.
My lanky sweetie pie snaked his arm around me and pulled me in under his arm. Not short myself, I fit there perfectly my eyes meeting our nemesis head on.
“Well I see you got your lazy ass out on time. If you left anything in there, I’ll be sending you the bill.”
The sneer in his voice spoke of arrogance and what I thought of as an unusually small penis.
As usual you could smell his cologne almost before he got out of the oversized truck he drove. He liked to pretend he was a handyman, but two severe electrical shorts after he claimed to have repaired a couple of light fixtures, told me he was hopeless. Fortunately, they blew the breaker instead of starting a fire. I had the repair bill from Ace Electric tucked into the file for Cassie.
Bruce’s arm tightened at my waist, a silent reminder to keep my cool.
“Here’s your keys.” I handed him two sets. “FYI I’ve taken about a hundred pictures of the inside. It’s spotless. I expect I’ll see the damage deposit back shortly?” I handed him an envelope with my forwarding address and other details he’d need to get it to me.
“We’ll see about that,” he snarled, not even bothering to offer to do a walk through.
I wasn’t surprised. I was sure he’d come up with bogus damage, even if he had to do it himself. My hand twitched, and Bruce squeezed me tighter.
I took the high road. Walking to our car, I turned and said. “Nice knowing you Mr. Kornish. I hope you have a good life,” my tone sweetly sarcastic. I wished him a quick trip to hell inside my head.
“Good girl, Lizzy. Let’s get out of this hell hole,” Bruce said as he opened the door for me so I could slide into warm comfort. It was drizzling again another ice storm was brewing. I knew the trees in the front yard would be covered in hoar frost and ice before night fall. January hadn’t been kind to Maryland.