By Cat Weaver
Maeve had noticed a crowbar leaning against the wall near the door that led from the garage to Andy’s kitchen and she wasn’t having it. That one’s sneaky, she’d taken to saying, and this is just more evidence.
“Nothing good ever comes of a crowbar,” she informs me. “Crowbars are for two things only: One, breaking into trailers, and two, beaning people who break into trailers. I say, if you see a crowbar, run. He’s got one in his trunk, ditch him before you wind up in it. One in the garage means he’s afraid of someone or on the prowl at night.”
I’ve no idea what crowbars are really for, so I don’t argue. Maeve thinks she’s “field wise” – her upstate version of streetwise. She says I don’t know anything about how things work up here. I do a lot of eye-rolling when she gets like this. Big sisterly.
“Andy seems okay,” I say. “Anyway, where else would we stay? We have no budget.”
We’re both Teaching Assistants at SUNY Binghamton. She in engineering and I, in philosophy. Our stipends were tiny.
So when I received notice that my Uncle had “been defeated by the alcohol,” I scraped up money from my nighttime bar gig to buy a suitable black dress and rent a car. Maeve, whom I’d met in an AI seminar asked to come along. She was like a clingy pet these days, but I didn’t mind, thought I could use the company.
My uncle lived and died in a trailer in the woods 20 miles or so outside of the tiny town of Decatour, NY. He was a mechanic. His wife —I’d call her my aunt, but I hate her too much to claim her as family— had passed a few years ago, also from drink (they said). My uncle had laughed about it, thought that drinking was a brilliant personality trait that others mistook for a short-coming. He’s probably still laughing in his freezer where he waits for the funeral that my mother insists on and paid — a LOT — for.
Maeve, who grew up in these parts —well, a few towns away — has taken it upon herself to take care of me. She had disapproved of the Air BnB straight off.
“You don’t stay with strangers in the fucking woods,” she sniffed. “For god sakes, Asha. What the hell were you thinking? Who’s going to hear you when he takes out the chainsaw?”
This Andy hardly looked like a chainsaw murderer. From what I could tell, there wasn’t a hint of murder in his genes. Such a friendly bespectacled face and a pleasant lanky body. Even if he were the murdering sort, I’d suppose him to be a poisoner; I made a note to avoid complicated looking dishes or anything with mushrooms.
Now, Maeve, I thought, would be a smother by pillow sort of murderer. Or a pusher down the stairser, maybe. I told her about my thoughts and she replied that I’d be a shooter for sure.
“Why am I a shooter, for fuck sake?”
“Because,” said Maeve as though this were obvious, “You’re an overachiever. Duh.”
Andy had placed us in a “guest house” at the back of the property. It was, essentially, a bedroom, and a kitchenette. You had to go into the main house to shower.
“Of course you do,” whispered Maeve. “That’s where he does you. Easy clean ups!”
We laugh, but Maeve assures me she’s not even kidding and has no plans to shower.
“What about poops?” I ask her, and she motions to the woods all around us.
“Suit yourself,” I shrug, “I’m gonna be clean when they find our bodies. I’ll leave a note saying I’m the clean one, just in case they get our bits mixed up.”
Andy appeared in the back door to the house and motioned to us with some beers. Maeve looked at me and said, “We shouldn’t say no.” I wanted to ask why but she gave me the goose-hiss that meant ‘can it’ so I followed her into the house where Andy had a fire going in the kitchen.
“What’s for din-din, Andy?” I ask.
“Couple of possums and a cat I found roadside,” says Andy, casually tasting some soup from a pot he had boiling.
Maeve turns white, shoots me a look. But I’m laughing. And so’s Andy. He’s laughing hysterically. His face is beet red. He chokes on his beer, wipes his chin, points at Maeve. “Sheee-IT! You shoulda seen your face!”
When he’s finished coughing he tells us it’s a venison stew.
It was good. I slept with him.
In the morning I found Maeve in the guest house, pacing.
“Christ, Asha,” she wept, “I kept thinking I heard a chainsaw during the night. What the hell are you thinking???”
“I think you snore, Maeve,” I joked.