Voted Fort Bragg’s Fun Couple by The Purity patrons for five years in a row, Gary and I ramp things up on Friday nights by challenging each other to stay awake past 9:00. I usually win. Gary slips into a snoring coma in his easy chair about the time 20/20 gears up.
I turn on the porch light. The door’s top quarter panel is leaded glass and I can see a young man standing on our porch. I recognize him as a former high school classmate of our son. It’s rumored he’s a meth addict. I have not seen or spoken to him in at least six years. I keep the door closed.
“Are you Harrison’s mom?” he asks.
“I’m Fred Murphy.” (Not his real name.)
“What can I do for you, Fred?”
“Rita threw me out and I need $12 for a motel room.”
Twelve dollars? Such an odd figure. Maybe a hit of meth costs $12. I don’t know. In retrospect, if he’d asked for $20, I might have given it to him. I’ve never had anyone ask for $12.
“I can’t help you, Fred.” I remain detective cool and collected.
“But Rita threw me out. I don’t have anywhere to go. I’ll have to sleep in my car if I can’t get $12 for a room.”
“I can’t help you, Fred.”
“It’s only $12. You’ve got $12 don’t you?”
I’m growing more than a little annoyed by his persistence.
A special note to meth heads: You do not want to mess with a menopausal woman. She, like you, probably hasn’t slept in several days. She, like you, is probably not feeling rational. She seriously hates anything that stands between her and the potential of a good night’s sleep. When you show up on her porch at 9:30 at night, you’ve definitely lessened that potential and have put yourself in grave danger.
“You need to leave now, Fred.”
“Now! Leave now!” I’m a real bad ass, my wits drawn taunt, a commanding edge to my voice. Back off, son—there’s no telling what I might do.
I duck down and grab the phone, prepared to call 9-1-1. My heart races and my breath comes in short gasps. Piddle leaks into my pajamas.
I slowly raise my head above the window sill and watch him get into his car. I wait until he drives away.
I race to the living room. “Gary!”
“Fred Murphy was just here asking for $12.”
“Fred Murphy! He used to go to school with Harrison. He’s now a meth head.”
“Oh him,” Gary says, as in no big deal. “Why are your pants wet?”
“He asked for money!”
“He’s gone now, right?”
“Yes, but he wanted money for meth!”
“Call the cops.”
I’m certain the cops won’t do anything more than what I did—with the exception of peeing their pants.
They’d probably refuse my request for 48-hour surveillance even though I fear retaliation in the form of Fred breaking in, tying us up, setting the house on fire, and letting our bound bodies fry to a crispy crunch.
I change my pajamas and go to bed, but don’t fall asleep until well past midnight, setting a personal best record in the Friday night challenge.