In our little brown house on Riverside, the one that suffered from the same affliction imposed upon every house on the block—vinyl siding—we lived quietly. When we rented the cozy place, we were comforted by the fact that the architect’s clever design hid the awful siding almost entirely from the street view. A full-size enclosed front porch and half pillars, all set upon a highly visible red brick foundation, covered most the the viewable front. Above the porch, a small peak was disguised by decorative wooden beams in a triangular shape, raised off of the main house in an eye-catching arrangement.
Up the steps, through the porch, and into the little living room was the entryway. From there, the double French doors swung out and led into a dining room. The dining area was the central room in the house, the torso, and the other rooms circled around it like limbs. On the north wall was two doorways, the left one went to the kitchen, small and counter-free with its tiny mud room and basement door behind it; the other door, on the right side of the wall opened up to reveal stairs which led into a walk-in attic which could have easily been transformed into another bedroom with a little construction know-how. Off of the east wall of the dining room was another doorway leading into the tiniest hallway I’d ever seen outside of a mobile home: Forward led directly into the bathroom, left opened into our bedroom, mattress on the floor, and right led through an awkward closet into a second bedroom, unused.
On this particular evening Dave and I sat in wooden rockers on the front porch, watching a storm roll in. Raindrops attacked the storm windows, pounding the panes with a vengeance. The conditions, Dave pointed out, were just right for tornados.
“Look at those thick dark clouds low on the horizon…and we’re expecting a quick drop in temperatures tomorrow, too. Could mean a tornado.”
“Well, I guess we could go down in the basement,” I replied reluctantly.
“The Beast isn’t gonna like that, though. She’s afraid to go down there, but I couldn’t even consider leaving her upstairs. The Beast and I have been through a lot; she’s my friend!”
“You think we should go down there? For real? I mean, I seriously doubt we’re in danger. If there was a tornado spotted in the area, they would turn on the alarm, right? I think we’d hear that.” I dragged my feet, not in any hurry to spend the evening sitting on the steps of our very vacant, very unfinished basement, which until very recently had been home to a substantial amount of standing water, a fact which our landlord ignored for weeks, only bothering to acknowledge the issue after our threats to report him for code violations.
“It wouldn’t hurt,” Dave said. “I don’t know if they’re expecting anything to go through this area, but the conditions are right for it…and we don’t have a tv or radio, so we can’t really be sure.”
“Okay, let me just go to the bathroom first.” I walked from the porch into the bathroom and closed the door. As soon as I was seated on the toilet, I heard the front door burst open, followed by a quick scuffle running the full length of the little house. From the porch, through the living and dining rooms and into the kitchen, Dave’s feet pounded quickly past, blending with the tappity-tap of dog toenails, ticking excitedly across the hardwood floor and tile as they both made a beeline for the basement.
“Quick, Beast! Get into the basement!”
My heart skipped an extra beat. Had he actually spotted a tornado rushing down our street? Were we in its path? I didn’t hear the sound of a train rushing at us, nothing but the rain and a little wind. Was it worth streaking naked as a jaybird across the house? In the event of an actual tornado, yes. But if this was a false alarm, or worse even still, Dave’s idea of a practical joke, and I staggered down the basement stairs with drooping drawers I would never, I mean never, live it down. I finished my business, rushed out the door, and came around the corner only to find Dave dragging The Beast down the flight of stairs into our creepy basement. She whimpered and kicked frantically every step of the way, fear evident in the whites of her wide, bewildered eyes. All the while Dave comforted the poor animal explaining, “I’m sorry, friend, but this is for your own good.”
There was no immediate tornado threat that I could see, so I stood at the top of the steps and watched for a few seconds before interrupting.
Dave looked up. “Yeah?”
“I appreciate you looking after the Beast and all, but she is a dog. You think next time you feel the need to rush down into the basement to escape a killer storm you might, oh, I don’t know, warn your wife about it?”
“But the Beast doesn’t have opposable thumbs!” he blurted out in genuine surprise. “You do!”
“That doesn’t necessarily guarantee tornado survival…a jus’ sayin’! Although you’re right about the thumbs. I should stand a better chance of making it own my own than she does, but still!”
“I wanted to get the Beast into the basement, just in case,” he responded sheepishly. “She doesn’t have opposable thumbs! There’s no way she could have gotten this door open! If a tornado came by, she would have panicked and refused to come down the stairs. You know it’s true!”
© Angela M. Adams
About Short Story Saturday: Last year, Short Story Saturday jumped around all over the place. It included current writing and very old. There was fiction, nonfiction, and something in between. One week I wrote about garbage disposal in Japan; then came a story about my husband and I shooing a bunny out of our garden; and there was a fictional piece about dying young mixed in there, too. No rhyme, no reason. 2015 will likely be more of the same. I’d like to focus on childhood, especially my years growing up in South America, but I’m not sure I’m ready to promise that. We shall see…
All posts on this site were written by Angela M. Adams (unless otherwise noted) and they may not be copied elsewhere without her permission. Thank you!