To recap—I’m about to receive a needle full of stuff from a supposed nurse to medicate my well-exposed rash from Rod’s, dear hubby’s, transplanted poison ivy. I am on the offensive with a raised syringe, Norman Bates style, questioning a woman in white.

“Just getting my ID,” she said, pulling a laminated badge from the pocket of her scrubs.

I narrowed my eyes at her. She could be a nurse, or she could be an… immaculate chef? She held the badge within inches of my face. Smiling at her, I said, “Oh yes, I see. You are a nurse.”

“You can lower the needle now,” she said, not looking amused.

I turned around, giving her a prominent object to inject.

“It goes in your arm,” she said.

“Oops, sorry,” I said, pulling up my pants. (I did mention that my pants were knee-level, didn’t I?)

Hours later, the rash was no longer itchy and according to hubby, no longer inflamed. The steroids had precipitated a bout of cleaning and baking, so everything was right in the world. Unfortunately, at 3 am, I was still up – steroid-induced insomnia. Hubby was snoring in the bed. I was sitting on my yoga mat, counting my breaths.

“Four hundred sixty-three, four hundred sixty-four, four hundred… “ when a series of howls came from the dogs’ room. My fifty-pound dog had a nice rhythmic yelp going, definitely high pitched, definitely glass breaking range in contrast to the grave, menacing growl-woof-growl sequence of my seventy-pound dog. The ninety-pound monstrosity was making a long, drawn-out howl. My old house grumbled and groaned from the noise they made. Hubby dug his head deeper into the pillows. 

I stumbled through the dark house, out of the bedroom, down the corridor to the dog’s room It was a drafty old sunroom, roughed in with odd and different types of paneling, and painted by the previous owners in a light Carolina blue then decorated by my abstract paintings of flowers. The dogs were milling around when I stepped into the room. Then one dog darted around me, and the others knocked me down as they raced to the front of the house. I heard their toenails click on the wood floors, then they were silent. I followed. Sitting at attention by the front door, the dogs started their barking, yipping, howling again. 

“What’s going on?” Came a voice in the dark.

“Don’t sneak up on me like that!” I said to my hubby. 

Why do men sleep in a tee shirt and nothing else?

A crackling noise was coming from under the door along with the distinct smell of something burning!

Rod wrangled the dogs into the bedroom, where they resumed making noise. I felt around the edges of the door. It was room temperature. I opened the door and looked right across the street to see flames roaring in the planters on my neighbors’ porch.

“Get the fire extinguishers,” I said to Rod. He ran to the kitchen for the two under the sink. I grabbed my phone and called my neighbors, telling them to dial 911 and not to open the front door.

Rod handed me the red cylinder, and we raced across the street. Standing in our neighbors’ front lawn, I took the long cement planter on the left side, and Rod took the right side. Both of us emptied the contents of our fire extinguishers into the planters, putting out the fires. Our neighbors were looking out their windows with mouths opened and cell phone gripped tightly in hand. We smiled at them. Emergency over, neighbors’ wooden house saved, I smiled at Rod and saw that he still wore only a tee shirt. He waved at them, happy as could be in all his glory. 

“Oooooh. Our bad,” I mouthed at the flabbergasted neighbors as the wail of firetrucks filled the night. 

To be continued.

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