All Boxed Up With No Place to Go
By Cappy Hall Rearick
“There’s a storm blowin’ up and it’s a whopper.” ~ The Wizard of Oz
“What,” my friend Joanie asked, “is your biggest fear?” I didn’t need to think about it.
“Uh … developing an allergy to chocolate?”
Joanie sighed. “Get serious.”
I was. My fear began following a crash diet of Saltine Crackers and Pepsi Zero. Chocolate, chocolate and chocolate then became my obsession. Since then, however, a tornado warning has caused me to reassess my fear factor.
Babe, having acted on the cockeyed notion that forewarned meant forearmed, bought a Weather Alert Radio. Bragging that Mother Nature wouldn’t dare sneak up on us again, he set it to go off like a siren and placed it on a far table in our bedroom.
It sat there undisturbed until one morning before dawn. My cat, Sophie Sorrowful, sprang off the foot of the bed like a greased Slinky while Babe turned over in bed and hit the snooze button.
When the alarm screeched again, he clicked on the Weather Channel before hitting the snooze button again.
TORNADO WARNING. TAKE SHELTER IMMEDIATELY!
I groaned. “What’s going on?”
“Tornado warning,” he mumbled
I sat up. “A warning or a watch?”
He yawned. “Warning.”
I yanked the covers off his Yankee butt and screamed louder than the alarm siren, “A warning? Get up! Get up! Where’s the cat?”
“Coffee,” he grunted.
At that precise moment, I knew for sure that my biggest fear had absolutely nothing to do with chocolate. Having lived in hurricane country for most of my life, I totally know the drill. When the storm troopers say “Evacuate,” I’m first in line. Nowhere on my Bucket List have I ever written, “I want to wake up and say, ‘we’re not in Kansas anymore.’
Babe shuffled off for coffee while I filled book bags with emergency supplies and looked high and low for the cat. When I got to the kitchen, I found Babe standing stupidly in front of the coffeemaker as though it were the Holy Grail, so I got busy grabbing cans of things that didn’t need to be cooked … like chocolate.
Babe turned. “Hey, Sparky. What’cha doing in the pantry with all those cans and stuff?”
“We need a storm cellar,” I cried.
He sighed. “Duh. We live on an island below sea level. Would you rather drown or wake up in Kansas?”
I gave him a look. “So where do you suggest we hide from the soon-to-be-here funnel-shaped cloud devouring everything NOT below sea level?”
He yawned. “The Box.”
When we remodeled the house, we installed a small elevator that we affectionately call, “The Box.” Babe’s former football days made mashed potatoes out of his knees, so an elevator seemed a less painful option than knee replacement. I should have thought of it myself as a possible escape hatch, but I was too busy filling book bags with canned salmon and saltines. I jerked on the elevator door and was tossing stuff inside when Babe moseyed up with a Krispy Kreme Donut hanging out of his mouth. He offered up a cup of coffee.
“How can you eat when we’re fixing to spin into Florida? Where’s the cat?”
He chewed on his donut and shrugged.
Turned out she was in Babe’s closet, shaking like the Wicked Witch was hot on her trail. I grabbed her and said, “Get in The Box before I make a dime bank out of you.” Babe was already in there rooting around in the book bags for anything not canned.
Sophie Sorrowful lived up to her name by carrying on pitifully. Babe, using a high-pitched witch voice, shrilled, “Make her be quiet or I’ll get you my pretty, and your little cat too!”
We closed the iron gate and the door, pushed the “down” button and stayed in The Box till noon with a freaked out cat, canned salmon, saltines and not one piece of chocolate.
When no funnel-shaped cloud rocked our world, Babe said, “Hey, Dorothy, I’m melting, I’m melting! Click your heels together three times and say the words.”
I smiled and said as dryly as possible, “I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
“What else,” Babe insisted. I rolled my eyes. “There’s no place like home.”
Pushing me out of The Box, he added, “The yellow brick road is leading me to the kitchen, Dottie, so take off those silly red shoes and put on your apron. I’m starving.”