Ringside View

Ringside View

A Story by barleygirl
"

seeing a house of love decay . . .

"

When I first moved to my mountain cabin nine years ago, I could barely walk using crutches. Excruciating leg pain was due to a neck injury, somewhat fixed five years ago with surgery. Upon getting to know my new neighbor, Aaron threw down profuse promises early on: “If you need anything, anything at all, I’ll help you out. You can count on me! Please, please, just call us! Anytime, day or night!”

Eyeing this quintessential ragamuffin in overstretched pumpkin-orange garage-sale golf pants with brown teeth and black ponytail, I sensed this was NOT the person I’d call if I needed something. Over the years I’ve dropped twenty-foot oak limbs using a hand saw on a pole, rather than borrow his electric mini-chainsaw on a pole. If I asked for a “man” tool, he’d feel obligated to provide the “man” to handle his tool. Plus he’d follow me around for an extra hour like a lonely mutt. Oh, and did I mention he’s a lifelong member of the sex offender registry?

There’s nothing overtly wrong with Aaron. He’s a friendly, fit, good-looking man of Italian descent nearing fifty. His live-in girlfriend, late-thirties, is the only one (of the two) working for a steady paycheck. Since Aaron already had this place when Liz moved in, he thinks “they’re even” . . . and I’m convinced Liz’s stake (making his house payment for a decade) exceeds his. Plus she pays all their living expenses. But at least he’s been decent enough to recently put her name on the property deed. I’m seeing this as a smart move on her part.

Aaron pretends to be an artist, commuting an hour into town daily with Liz (her car and her fuel). He putters around his “warehouse” all day . . . supposedly turning junk into art. His considerable parcel next door has become steadily crammed with a mind-boggling amount of worthless crap over the years. All the while Aaron fantasizes about how much everything will be worth in just a few more years. He thinks he has classic cars parked all over the place, but I’ve watched these slowly become rusted rat-infested shells. Evidently he doesn’t see all his treasures going ashes-to-ashes, dust-to-dust, with help from plentiful rodent friends.

I’ve written a different little ditty about my hoarding neighbors you might recall. I used to cat-sit when they went away on weekends. I was relieved their final cat died so I wouldn’t have to snake my way through fuming tunnels inside their overflowing home, tending to furry friends. Here’s the contrast between my two neighbors . . . whenever called to cat-sit, Liz gathered everything I’d need . . . food, filtered water, bags for scooping the litter box, etc. She always wrote a newsy thoughtful note thanking me. I often pondered: how could someone so meticulous stand to live with the crushing oppression of his massive hoard?

The glaring tragedy to which I’ve had a ringside view . . . theirs was one of the nicest properties around, perched on the same bluff as my cabin, overlooking an endless spread of wilderness through wall-to-wall windows. Each dwelling on their property has decayed horribly with termite-infested scrap wood stacked against outer siding, undisturbed for years amid piles of sawdust. They never burn wood for heat since squirrels filled the entire chimney with acorns and they got smoked out when trying to use their fireplace. A constant spread of dirty dishes and rotting food cover every kitchen surface. The swimming pool has been a puddle of mossy muck for so long, it’s ruined. Aaron’s property is worth much less than when I moved here nine years ago. He’s in for a rude awakening.

Lately I became aware of a seismic shift next door. Aaron hasn’t been going into town with Liz all summer. He stays at home puttering around the place, busying himself with nonsensical projects, as is his tendency.

Back when the Soberanes fire burned the nearby wilderness for three months straight, Aaron frantically dropped dead limbs all summer, harvesting a ton of flammable fuel to further cover his junk-laden land! I admit, many times when summoned for a weekend of cat-sitting, I would drag a thick oak limb back to my place each time, later bucking it to burn in my woodstove.

At some point while living next door, he was turned in to the authorities for his extensive vehicle collection. We guessed it must’ve been the people selling their property further on down the way. Aaron’s hoard is the blemish that greets anyone turning onto our rustic little side road. It took months and Aaron only managed to move away three cars, registering the others as “non-use vehicles”.

With a huge nearby embankment slide two winters ago, he moved a hundred shale blocks that had loosened up. These hefty blocks are spilled out front of his place. He stopped stacking them against his chain-link fence when it bowed and collapsed from many tons of teetering boulders sans mortar. Aaron moves on, mid-failure, attacking his next whimsy with an absurd approach. Look at this pile of shale blocks in the photo . . . it will take three months just to clear that!

This summer, he constructed a cockamamie greenhouse by draping clear plastic from his porch eaves, this way and that way, to nearby trees. With this flimsy eyesore flapping in the breeze, his billowing buttress does little to hide his pot plants. Besides, recreational pot became legal in California this year. It’s already harvest time and Aaron is just now digging holes in our hard rocky clay for his pot plants . . . while yesterday he said he’d have his land ready to sell in three months. I don’t think he could organize his way out of a brown paper bag. I predict he won’t sell, but he’ll clean up his act sufficiently to lure Liz back and get her to continue paying his house payments.

A while back, I offered Aaron my huge collection of crushed soda cans. Since I’ve no transportation, I said he could have the money if he hauled it to town to recycle the aluminum. I had about $100 worth of cans. After more than three months he finally came by to get the cans. We carried numerous garbage bags to his place as he told me Liz was fed up. “I always thought this would be our perfect paradise to spend the rest of our lives together, but Liz is sick of commuting to town for work. I’m the artist. I’m all about love. But Liz is the practical one.”

Truthfully, I thought this was another of Aaron’s tizzies. I never expected Liz to actually leave him, even though I could never figure out why she stayed.

The other day I crutched my way up to the main road to the mailbox and Aaron came bursting out of his house, clearly trying to “catch me” as I walked by his place. Out here in the country we have a neighborly doorbell system. Since I might be puttering around naked, my neighbors will stand politely at the front gate while my dogs bark, instead of coming to my sliding glass front door. When I figure out the dogs won’t stop barking, there must be someone outside, so I go out to greet whoever’s there. But Aaron is so lonely living in the boondocks, it’s pathetic how he scrambles by his hoard to catch me for a chat.

“Liz is gone!” He blurts it out like a confessional the other day. I’m glad I have my crutches because I will be standing here for a long while. I’m treated to the long history of Liz’s slow descent into being fed up.

“I’m sorry to hear that, Aaron.” Inside I’m cheering for Liz.

As I listen to his convoluted justifications, it’s obvious the reason he must sell is because he has no money for house payments. Whatever so-called “warehouse” he occupies in town, it must be modest in size, with the multi-million-dollar property prices in Monterey, California. So I’m wondering where he’s planning to haul these acres of junk?

“Well, I know your legs hurt, so I’ll let you go.” After a bit, Aaron notices I’m shifting from leg to leg, leaning into my crutches hard. As a parting shot, he blurts out, “believe me, if another woman comes along, I don’t give a hoot about Liz!”

I hobble home with my mail. Was that final retort an invitation for me to move in and pay his house payment, I wonder?




© 2018 barleygirl



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Featured Review

heh, we gots a whole TOWN like your neighbor. BG you've painted a Rembrandt portrait here. The proverbial "gift that keeps on giving".... this is so good I'll make a suggestion, trim some fat here and dig a little deeper into your observations/reactions common sense contrasting. Go ahead and slide a little closer to the edge, heh, I KNOW Aaron won't mind..(or get it.) A lollapalooza of a write!!!

Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

1 Week Ago

I'm not sure if I can imagine how to apply the advice you're giving? Trim fat & dig deeper? That sou.. read more
roarke

1 Week Ago

I know, bad communication. Maybe just try a treatment that gets "medieval" about it all. I dunno. No.. read more
barleygirl

1 Week Ago

To be honest, I spent years trying to learn to be completely out of my head while writing. I can't a.. read more



Reviews

An offer you can do without Margie. Looks like Liz came to her senses. Aaron is frankly a waste of space. You relate these characters so well to your audience, I could picture them and their run down property clearly. You always keep the reader hooked. You provide enough bait to keep us coming back for more.

Fondest

Chris


Posted 5 Days Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

4 Days Ago

Thank you for your uplifting comments. I tend to write in a terse style after years of technical wri.. read more
This is a hoot of a story Aaron the arist hoarder seems quite the character ..this tale held my interest from start to finish ..you tell it so well and oh but poor Liz.. and Aaron bring all about love ...haha ..well done Margie

Posted 5 Days Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

5 Days Ago

They both have a certain harmonious quirkiness I forgot to mention. I was too flabbergasted by this .. read more
A good offer? I enjoyed the story my friend. I liked how you made the man come alive for the reader. You have entertaining neighbors. Thank you for sharing the amazing story. Sounds like a fun place to me.
Coyote


Posted 6 Days Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

6 Days Ago

All my life I've gravitated to the oddballs! I'm a reverse snob . . . I don't like people who are al.. read more
Totally absorbed I was, from start to finish. The detail is so very well done, and the character depiction of Aaron absolutely brought him to life for me.

Poor mutt, can't see the wood for the trees can he. :))

Beccy.

Posted 6 Days Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

6 Days Ago

I love that you picked up on that . . . I should have mentioned it . . . Aaron is not lazy, he's act.. read more
Yep, I think artful Aaron gave you an invite. Liz will probably come back, so you'd best not jump on that train too fast. Yes, I'm kidding. You don't need no stinkin' man, especially one who's "all about love". This is another interesting slice of your little tucked away paradise.

Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

1 Week Ago

I love this: the "stinkin' man" line . . . such a classic, brings memories as well as pertinent trut.. read more
I wonder -
Did he ever say "I'm going to retire at forty" - retire from what?
Maybe start work

That's what one of our neighbours said _ He looked sixty at the time
went round to his house one > invited on some pretexts _ Sit down he said
Where all the chairs are full Excuse was I cant sit I have a sore bum

We left the area before he retired


Yes I know your Aaron exactly - You described him so well

Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

1 Week Ago

I appreciate that our acquaintance hasn't been too intertwined, yet close enuf for me to get a bead .. read more
Holy crap....I am not one who could live like that. But I am sooo familiar with people who think thay have a great idea but the execution is sorely lacking...lol. I would keep your money in your pocket...for sure. I know that kind of romance sounds tempting...but Don't Dooo...It...!! that's too many elipses. Once again, you mesmerize me with your everyday account of your life. I love it Margie!!!

Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

1 Week Ago

Thank you for being a cheerleader for my profile, given your expertise! *wink! wink!* If I made it 6.. read more
We have them over here as well. Or variations thereof; but thankfully not up the mountain where I live.
I can see his yard and I know 'artist's' such as he. Descriptive and recognisable wherever you are. This I like very much. Almost as much as I don't like Aaron.

Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

1 Week Ago

I do not dislike Aaron, but I feel he's robbed Liz of the value of this beautiful property she's bee.. read more
Lots of details can be dull sometimes, but I found this quite enjoyable. I like it !

Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

1 Week Ago

I try not to go on & on too much! *smile* Thanks for your vote of confidence (((HUGS))) Fondly, Marg.. read more
hi margie i read this a day ago but havent had time to review i did love it though
you are so talented and you make me feel like im over there with you
with your neighbours and garden its all so refreshing and real your stories so well told
congrats love it

Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

1 Week Ago

I spent my life trying to teach myself to be more observant (I was so self-absorbed, early on). It's.. read more

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Added on September 10, 2018
Last Updated on September 10, 2018

Author

barleygirl
barleygirl

Central Coast, CA



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