The grocery store’s clock displayed 12:13 as I exited. It had been January 2nd for 13 minutes.
Dusting flurries made halos around street lights before damply settling on black pavement. My first step outside slid uncontrollably, counterbalanced by flailing grocery bags. The concealed ice slick nearly destroyed me, and aggrivated my ankle pain. A 20 yard walk took a careful 3 minutes. My bladder realized it was full as the car started… my apartment’s bathroom was mere minutes away…
9 minutes later, my headlights illuminated my empty parking lot which was equally, if not more, treacherous. I opted to bring the cargo in ASAP.
The world looked like a maniacal candyman’s sugar-powdered crystal-scape. Frozen and perfect.
Under increasing bladder pressure, my cargo was finally stationed in the 3rd floor lobby outside of my apartment’s entrance hall. I kicked off my shoes and emptied my pockets. Bathroom based relief lulled my attentiveness as I recalled the previous 5 hours.
At around 8, I realized I wouldn’t be home at a decent hour. Holding a box of stuff, I carefully avoided my nephew’s toy mess as to not re-injure my ankle. When I stepped down into the mudroom, instead of landing on flat floor, I crunched on a low-heel shoe concealed from my field of view because of the damn box. Snapping shooting pain centered on a foot which wouldn’t bear weight. I let go of the box so as to free my hands for a less painful and concussion-free fall.
My brother and his wife helped me limp to the couch. He iced my ankle, and she provided Advil and water. My 2 year-old nephew was astonished to acknowledge someone else’s needs had priority over his own.
The eve of the first would only get worse.
The idea of sleep reconciled my thoughts on the previous hours of chaos.
Grudgingly, I slothed through the hall toward my lobby-stuff. Wearily, I assured myself, “This won’t take long.”
Approaching the pile, I heard a click behind me. I visualized my keys, wallet, and phone on the kitchen table maybe 20 feet away. I looked down at my boxer shorts and bare feet. I surveyed the landscape. Snow caked over the black ice in my empty parking lot: no cars, no people, just flurries in a snow globe. A quiet, cold, terrible.
What could I do? What would you do? An exasperated smile creased my face, “At least I’ll have a story.”
Like a fridge and a freezer, I put most groceries in the lobby, and some in the snow. I’d have to find a warmer way to rest.
Could I get back in? Maybe I’d procure help by yelling into the abyss?
Then it occurred to me, my Chromebook had battery and was in range of WiFi! The internet can do anything! I hailed my social media realm, several quickly liked the dire status. My comment displayed: Andrew Guthrie: doesn’t like that.
I used the web cam to post a photograph of my novice lock picking attempt.
In response. an expert lock picker gently informed me that my attempt was a fool’s dream. He suggested emailing local non-emergency help before he signed off. I emailed the police station, and I received no answer. I VOIP called the police station, and I received an answering machine
Out of ideas, I tentatively entered the emergency number on my keyboard. But, “911 is not a valid number.”
My supine body must have looked like a life-size business man action figure fallen off the shelf, a large black overcoat around my top and legs tucked into a hanging bag. Shivering, I wondered how my boss would receive my 3 AM email stating I wouldn’t arrive for the first working day of the new year.