He sat looking at the empty building wondering if he should go in. He thought he had removed everything but maybe he should just take one more look. There should be a little time left.
But then again, maybe not. He wasn’t really sure he had enough time. And certainly they had gotten everything. They had loaded all the boxes and furniture into the truck. Shannon carried more than her share; hauling boxes and furniture down the four flights of stairs and into the U-Haul. And she managed the kids too. She made sure that they never went unwatched or off their schedules. She also managed to have drinks and food available in anticipation of hunger or thirst.
They needed a bigger truck. Then they could have moved everything at once and there wouldn’t have been as much chaos. But with his being laid off last year and Shannon only working part-time, they didn’t have the money for a bigger truck. His unemployment check barely covered rent and groceries and her check barely covered utilities. They didn’t have cable.
Silly thought. The building didn’t have cable. When the city condemned the building the cable company disconnected the cable. The tenants could stay for four months, the city said, to give the tenants time to relocate. Most left before the four months were up. But they didn’t. They couldn’t, so they stayed.
They dutifully paid their rent to the city and prayed they would lift the condemnation. There wasn’t any money for a deposit on a new place and they wouldn’t be getting their security deposit back on this place. They had nowhere to go.
Four months passed. The electricity was turned off, the gas was disconnected, and the water was turned off. Then another two months passed. Hard months making due with candle light and bottled water. Then there was the knock on the door. It was two police officers with a final eviction notice. They had three days to vacate. The building was to be demolished.
Why not? Their lives were already demolished. Shannon cried. He cried. The babies cried. Tommy and Sandy, precious children. Tommy was only four and already a little man; wanting to be big and strong. He cries when he feels helpless or can’t get his way. Lucky to be that age. When should he tell Tommy you will always feel that way but at some point you aren’t allowed to cry anymore?
And Sandy – only two. Just beginning to talk and ask why. Why do we have to move? Where will I sleep? Where will we eat? All good questions that he was asking himself.
Two trips it took to get everything. First trip was boxes of clothes, bedding, towels and food. The second trip was of furniture. They would stay in Shannon’s parent’s house. The furniture would stay in Shannon’s parent’s garage.
It was gracious of them to let the family stay. Four of them in Shannon’s childhood room. Tight, but together. It was uncomfortable, especially for him. The judgment he felt from her parents. What kind of man can’t provide a decent home for his family?
Just a couple or three months. That’s all. Long enough to save up a deposit for a new place. Nothing fancy but theirs.
Where’s Mookie? Sandy loved her Mookie. What it was no one was sure. It was a stuffed creature with wings, feet, antenna and a snout. Just a fuzzy green thing she loved. It was her comfort object. And it was missing.