It was moving day, and like every moving day since Grog first left his starter cave for a deluxe apartment on the cliff, chaos reigned.
Part of the problem was the help. There was Larry, his brother Darrell and his other brother Darryl, of course; and Ken and Sarah and Jon and Maria; and Michael and Stephen; all helping Sean and Paul pack.
It’s not that the people were bad — they were all good people, great people actually. It’s just that there were too many of them. They reminded Sean of dachshunds in a playpen, all waggly tails and eager eyes, tripping over their own feet and each other in their efforts to help. It was all he could do to organize them, so that maybe they could get things done and the truck moving before the afternoon’s thunderstorms arrived.
First things first: Food. Ken and Sarah and Jon and Maria graciously brought several jugs of wine (and some plastic wine glasses!) while Larry, Darrell and Darryl brought three cases of beer and a bag of pretzels. One small bag of pretzels wasn’t going to be enough, so Sean’s first executive decision was to send Paul out for pizza, the essential fuel for moving parties everywhere. One down!
Other personnel assignments: Larry was a natural organizer. How the anal-retentive Vermonter ever wound up in Oklahoma was a mystery, but the down-eastern mountain man was a wiz at packing ten pounds of anything into a five pound bag. Sean put him in the truck and limited him to only one case of beer, so that the brothers would spend more time totin’ and packin’ instead of sittin’ and drinkin’.
At the other end of the process were Ken and Sarah and Jon and Maria, going from room to room picking and packing the smaller, more delicate objects. Sean never could figure out how they ever got anything done with the constant chatter they emitted, but apparently their hands and mouths were connected like a pigeon’s head and feet — they couldn’t move one without the other moving, too. Whatever worked for them!
The Brothers Daryl, being naturally the strong silent type, were designated muscle, collecting boxes and furniture from inside the house and bringing them outside, to stuff them into the truck under Larry’s unceasing tutelage.
Lastly, Michael and Steven were sent to the garage, the basement, and the attic, to bring out the durable junk that didn’t need to be packed or treated gently. Too bad the bikes were stored in the garage.
That left Sean to do a headless chicken imitation all by himself, running between the house and the truck and the garage and the truck and the house and the garage and the truck, round and round, back and forth, checking that things were being packed properly and there were enough furniture pads and the kitchen boxes were done last and the books were put in boxes marked for the right room and not just stuffed into boxes labeled “books” and …
Paul returned with the pizza, and stood a moment watching this miracle of organized efficiency with its counterpoint of hyper-caffeinated Sean. Then he placed the pizza on the kitchen table (which was already out in the front lawn) and brought everything to a halt without saying a word. Opening the box was like dropping blood in the ocean — the pizza sharks suddenly appeared from nowhere.
While they ate and drank they watched the sky. Where they stood the day was sunny and hot, but off to the southwest thunderheads could be seen forming in the distance. Another two or three hours and they’d probably be here, so Sean didn’t want to spend any more time dawdling. Finish your pizza and get back to work!
So many mouths made short work of the food, and Sean soon got his way. The workers disappeared along with the pizza, leaving Paul and Sean to clean up the mess. Then Sean was called away to deal with some urgent issue (“Who packed the toilet paper?”) and Paul was batting cleanup alone again, naturally. Even without an assignment from Sean he knew what his role was — to keep Sean from driving everyone else crazy. He finished with the lunch trash and went into the house, where he found the recently refueled Sean going on about the “proper” way to label the boxes. He kept Sean from turning that into a crisis by dragging him out to check the garage, then they went out to the truck.
At the truck they discovered Larry lecturing on the relationships between a mesocyclone, its visible condensation funnel, and the rear flank downdraft, while Darrell and Darryl sat on the rear of the truck drinking beer and swinging their feet. It was all Paul could do to keep Sean from throwing empty beer bottles at all of them.
Fortunately a crash sounded in the garage, interrupting Sean’s pitching practice. He raced to the disaster while Paul persuaded Larry and his two brothers to get back to work. Then he followed Sean into the garage, drawn by the loud voices.
It seemed that Michael had talked Stephen (or was it the other way around?) into taking the tool rack off the wall without taking the tools out of it, as a time-saving measure, and a shovel had fallen and beaned one of them in the head. By itself, the first time. Paul managed to stop Sean from haranguing their friends too badly, aided by sounds from the house. Something large had just descended the stairs in a non-orderly fashion. Shrieking was heard from within, along with cries of “I’m all right!”
Darryl had found a sled in the attic, and tried using it to get a large box of something down the stairs. The sled was a great idea — as long as the stairs were straight. It didn’t make the corner, however, and went into the bathroom instead. Whatever was in that box must have been rather heavy for it managed to knock the sink completely off the wall and split the toilet before coming to a stop in the bathtub. The missing sink caused a bit of a leak. Darrell went to find an umbrella, while Sean raced to find the water shutoff.
Then Paul looked out the window. The sky had suddenly turned black as the thunderstorms they’d seen earlier came overhead. Rain started to pour down, so he chased everyone outside to help get stuff off the lawn and into the truck.
The last thing in the truck was the sodden box freed from the wreckage of the bathroom. Larry closed the door on the very full van as Darryl plucked at his sleeve and pointed. A visible condensation funnel could be seen descending from a mesocyclone and heading their way. “Tornado!” someone yelled, and everyone raced back into the house and down into the basement.
While they huddled in the corner Sean observed that it had finally happened: An Act of God had been necessary to get Ken and Sarah and Jon and Maria to stop talking. Unfortunately that same event had kicked Larry into lecture mode, and he went on and on about tornado damage statistics and survival rates until his brothers started pummeling him with their hats. Then the house joined in the fun.
It took them ten minutes to free themselves from the destruction that had once been a house. Sean was secretly glad that he wouldn’t have to pay for the damages done to the bathroom.
When they finally managed to get their heads above ground they were greeted by … nothing. All that could be seen was rubble — everything else was gone. Their cars had disappeared, but worse, the truck was missing. They had just managed to squeeze everything that Sean and Paul possessed into that van, and now it was all gone!
While everyone else was gawking at the destruction that had once been a neighborhood, Darrell made a beeline for a pile of rubble, reached in, and pulled out a bottle of beer. He had managed to find an entire case that had survived intact even though it was buried under two feet of debris.
The rescue workers arrived to find the eleven friends sitting on a pile of debris drinking beer and telling jokes. It was better laughing than crying.
Hours later, after the rescue teams had arrived, after the friends had checked in with the Red Cross, and after the rest of their friends had been given rides back to their homes, Sean and Paul arrived at their new residence, which was in a town some twenty miles away from their former home. They figured that even though they no longer had any possessions, they at least had somewhere to stay, which was better than many of their former neighbors.
As the cab turned the corner onto their new street they were surprised to see a truck parked in front of their new house — their truck, the one with all their possessions in it! They’d actually completed their move successfully, and without any mileage charges on the rental.