It was the horn that did it. It had been going on for about two weeks. I knew Joan had rounded the corner onto Olive Ave when I heard the honking. We lived at the very end of the block over a tiny bridge but you could hear it the minute she started down the street. It was as if she was alerting the entire neighborhood that JOAN HAD RETURNED.
It brought back memories of a very interesting dog we had when we lived in Chicago. We got him when he was 5 years old, for protection, as we lived in a sketchy neighborhood. He actually had papers and his name was “Sir Pottamus, Lord of Bartairs.” Pot for short. Our brownstone backed up to an alley and when we’d go out back to walk, Pot would look left and howl, then right and howl. He wanted everyone to know he was out. Sort of like Joan.
We had lived in our house for less than a month and been working on it nonstop. Tom and I didn’t even have a bedroom. We kept moving from one room to the next trying to figure out where we wanted our bedroom. We had torn out the orange shag carpet in the kitchen and a friend and I were faux painting the plywood floor underneath. Our appliances had not yet been installed. It was time for a break and that horn supplied the perfect excuse. We picked Twain Harte, up in the mountains towards Yosemite, and had packed up the car and the kids when Joan appeared. She came out onto her Juliette balcony and said
“Hi neighbor, where’re you going?”
“Twain Harte, why?” Tom said.
“Oh, that’s good. You deserve a break. How long will you be gone?” Joan asked.
“A week, maybe less, why?” Tom asked again.
“Have fun, don’t worry about a thing here, I’ll watch your house!” And she disappeared.
As we pulled away, Tom and I gave each other worried looks. “Well, that made me feel so much better, Joan is going to look after the house while we’re away.” I said.
Twain Harte is a wonderful place and perfect for kids. We had a great week and forgot all about Joan, the fact we were carrying two mortgages and our wreck of a house. A week later we pulled into the driveway we shared with Joan, exhausted but renewed. Then we walked up the steps, along the sidewalk to get to the front door and stopped.
We had a long covered entryway leading to the front door. It was full of discarded furniture. A fiberboard cabinet, table, chairs, a desk and even a toilet. On one side of the house was a narrow deck that was in great disrepair and had no railings. On it was an old couch and a stove! We were in shock. Joan came out onto her Juliette deck at that moment.
“Welcome home neighbor! You have such a big house I knew you could use some furniture! I hired that same guy from the biker bar, the Peso, who took the pictures of me in my wedding dress and he emptied my storage room and moved it over to your house. I know you’ll put it to good use. You can thank me later!” Joan seemed especially excited.
“We don’t want your old furniture!” Tom yelled. “Get it out of here!”
“That’s no problem neighbor, just get rid of what you don’t want!” With that she disappeared .
Joan’s house is on the left in this picture, our house below. Too close. The long expanse on our house once had an old deck that had to be removed. That is where Joan deposited the stove and couch. You can see her Juliette deck on the front upper part of her house.
We knew we had a problem. Could we actually live here with Joan as our neighbor? What would she do next? Would there be more to come? Yes as it turned out, a lot more!
Stay tuned for the next Joan story.