[Continued from the previous entry]
She introduces herself as Dorothy. Lives with her husband, Henry, and a brown cat in a simple one-story cottage-style home off Griggs Street, which backs up to the edge of this park. On the way I explain the whole blackout episode. She listens attentively, nods, but doesn’t say much. I’m still so numbed by this experience that I don’t even notice the beating my bare feet are taking on this path and now sidewalk.
I notice a shiny green Pontiac Streamliner Deluxe Coupe parked in her driveway. Despite growing up in the Motor City, I’m not the most knowledgeable about cars. But I recognize this make and it’s from the 1940s, I believe. I catch the old license plate and it says 1947. Looks good as new.
There are classic car shows throughout the area during these summer months, one annually held right here in this park Memorial Day weekend. They are probably prepping their prize to showcase at the next one. Maybe the Woodward Dream Cruise next month. It’s strange that they just let it sit outside exposed to weather elements. I thought those car enthusiasts always kept those things tucked away in garages except for those rare special occasions when they spring it onto the world.
We enter the house’s back door. Basement steps are straight ahead, and so I follow Dorothy to the right, up two steps and into a small kitchen.
“I have some clothes from my son still saved upstairs. I’ll find you some. Would you like a drink?”
“No, thank you, but I appreciate the offer.”
She dashes off and I hear her shoes tap up the stairs.
A brown cat darts out of nowhere and follows her.
I take a seat at the kitchen table. And for the first time since I regained consciousness, I’m feeling a tad more relaxed (relatively speaking). Warm clothes and police are on the way.
While I’m sitting here in only a towel, I’m suddenly taken aback with how old everything is in this house. The refrigerator, stove, table, chairs, sink, cupboards, along with that sewing machine shoved in the corner. To top it all off, they have a black rotary phone perched on top of a table just inside the adjacent living room. If I stretch my head enough, the furniture looks generations-old as well. It’s straight out of Act 3 of Disney World’s attraction “Carousel of Progress.”
Except nothing is broken, rusty, or even dusty. No cracks of any kind. All these appliances and pieces of furniture don’t show any signs of wear and tear whatsoever. It’s like a museum or a refurbished house at Greenfield Village.
Dorothy is pretty old. Very traditional, evidently. I doubt I’d find any computer in this entire home, even those big boxy ones from the 90s. Perhaps they are the crotchety types who just didn’t want to spend the effort and money on modern fancy-schmancy things.
She returns and hands me what appears to be an entire wardrobe: Sweatshirt, Levi’s jeans, socks and shoes, all looking retro as well. Looking at the grey sweatshirt, I’m reminded about the cool breeze outside the windows, and why this is the case during a sweaty week in July. But I’ve got bigger things to worry about at the moment.
I thank her profusely. She directs me to the bathroom so I can change out of the towel.
I walk past the living room, veer left down a short hallway and into the bathroom, looking forward to feeling even less awkward once I shake off this towel and put real clothes on.
I quickly change into the mothball-scented clothes which, of course, feel straight out of my now-deceased grandparents’ youth era. But at this point, I don’t care. Any warm coverings will do.
Feeling slightly more invigorated, I turn the cold-water faucet on the ancient sink and splash water on my face. I reach down to my discarded towel and wipe myself off as something captures my eye in the mirror.
I turn around and find a calendar on the wall.
Odd place for a calendar opposite the toilet. But there’s something even odder.
Throughout the seven decades someone sat on this toilet staring at this calendar, no one had thought to change it? What happened in that month where calendar-changing suddenly stopped? What is so special about that month?
The calendar’s paper hasn’t even browned at all. Time stopped inside this home.
Alright, now I’m weirded out.
For all the graciousness dear old Dorothy has provided me, I’m suddenly looking forward to getting downstairs and waiting for the police to arrive. This home is beyond simple nostalgia and keeping hold of tradition. It’s eerie obsession of the “good ol’ days.”
I hear a couple car doors slam.
Must be the cops.
I fold up the towel and place it on the sink, quickly finish dressing, leave the bathroom and make a bee-line into the kitchen.
“The police have arrived,” Dorothy informs me.
“Thanks again. You’re a lifesaver,” I say.
We exchange smiles and handshakes. We are both sizing each other up a bit, not entirely sure the other person is all there, mentally. I’m a naked man found howling in the woods. She lives in a time capsule with absolutely nothing looking like it was purchased in the past half-century. A couple weirdos.
I find my way outside to the driveway, eager to make a statement to an officer and file a report. And then probably get checked out, physically.
I’m met by two policemen, one short and stocky, one tall and lanky.
Wow, they’re decked out wearing navy blue police hats and everything.
“Good morning, sir, I’m Officer Johnston,” says the tall one and shakes my hand.
“Good morning,” I say.
“I’m Officer Davis,” says the short one several steps away.
Johnston begins talking but it’s muddled in my head. Something about receiving a call from Mrs. Lipuma about me crying in the woods. Naked. And so on and so forth.
My eyes are too affixed on the squad car parked behind Dorothy’s old-timer Pontiac.
That car is as old as Dorothy’s, if not older.
I hear myself mumble and babble about the events of my park experience, but my brain is on auto-pilot. I alternate looking at Johnston with quick glances in each direction down the street.
My heartbeat returns to overdrive.
Johnston is jotting something in his pad when he readies himself to speak.
“Hold on, sorry,” I say. “I just… what’s happening around here?”
“These cars. All these cars. Why are they so old?”
Both cops glance at each other and then peer back at me with befuddlement.
“I mean look,” I continue as I wave my arm around. “Your police car, all these cars up and down the street. They’re from the 40s and 50s. What’s going on here?”
Davis lets out a chuckle. “I doubt you’re seeing any 1950 models. Those ain’t out yet.”
I grin, assuming he’s just joking along.
But inside my nerves are rattling. Not everyone on this street are classic car collectors, are they?
“C’mon,” Johnston motions to me. “We can finish at the station.”
I know he’s starting to question my sanity and wants to take this discussion elsewhere.
And so am I.