Snakes and Pills

145 - siren lock

Maria heard a thud. Then, there was another. The world was still slightly hazy to her, in those fleeting moments between sleep and wakefulness when she couldn't quite be sure which state she was in.

Her room shook again. It was a violent shake. She had never experienced an earthquake in her life. This wasn't an earthquake-prone area. Still, she supposed it was possible that this was a temblor. They could strike anywhere.

Another shake. A few knick-knacks fell off their shelves. Maria got out of bed. Though she knew in natural disasters it was never wise to stand by windows and their injury-causing glass, most of the movement seemed to be coming from over there. Carefully, she crept across the room and peeked out the window.

She saw a huge black ball swinging toward her current location, and reflexively jumped back from the window. Another hit, and this time some dust from damaged drywall kicked up into the air. She went back to the window and looked out again.

This time she got a more complete picture. There was a big yellow crane parked on the street in front of her house. A wrecking ball hung from the end of its boom, and it was winding up for another swing.

Maria quickly grabbed her bathrobe and threw it on as she ran down the stairs. The blows from the wrecking ball kept coming, and by the time she got through the front door, a chunk of her bedroom wall was missing.

"Stop! Stop! What are you doing?!" she shouted while waving her arms wildly to get the wrecker's attention. Initially, her pleas were drowned out by the sound of the machinery and its accompanying destruction. As she moved closer to the crane's cab, she finally got the operator's attention.

With a pull of a lever, the man in the cab brought the wrecking ball to a halt. He was wearing an orange vest and a yellow hardhat, despite being in the safety of the crane's cab. He shot an annoyed look at Maria, "What?"

"What do you mean 'what?' What the hell are you doing here?" she shouted.

The wrecker rolled his eyes. "Lady, what does it look like I'm doing? I'm demolishing this house," he said with a tone that strongly implied that he would like to get back to work.

"I can see that, obviously! But why are you doing it?!" Maria reiterated, not appreciating being patronized by a man in a hardhat.

"Uh, because it's my job? Because someone is paying me to do it? Why else does anyone do anything?" he pontificated.

Maria was even more confused now. "Who is paying you to do this?" she asked.

"The owner of the property. Okay, Miss? Can I go back to work now, or do you have more questions for me?" he replied.

"That's impossible. I'm the owner here. I didn't order the demolition of my own house, I'm pretty damn sure!" she asserted.

"Yeah, right," the wrecker said with definite attitude. "Look, I got the work order right here." He rummaged through the cab until he produced a clipboard with some papers attached. "Property: 8541 West Shenstone Drive. Signed by one Mister Rockwell. Any problems?" he said, as he victoriously flashed the clipboard at her.

Maria sighed. "This is 8154 West Shenstone, you idiot."

For the first time in the conversation, the man in the cab did not have an instant comeback. He examined the house he had been demolishing. In raised golden numbers nailed onto the wall near the front door, he saw the proof. The lady yelling at him was right.

"Shit," he muttered. This was the third time this month. He smiled his politest smile and asked Maria, "Ma'am, how good are you at keeping a secret?"


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