Skowhegan, Maine, October 3, 1988. Early afternoon saw the arrival in town of a battered UHaul panel truck sporting New York license plates, being driven by a dark-haired, bearded man, and a grey-and-white cat. The truck was followed closely by a dusty black 1986 Chevrolet Beretta, with Maryland tags. The driver of the Beretta, a dark-haired woman, was seen to have an orange-and-white cat in her lap. In the back seat of the car were a number of boxes, including a cat carrier.
The truck, followed by the Beretta, uncertainly made its way up North Avenue, and turned into a residential street, stopping about halfway down the block. The driver of the Beretta got out, leaving the cat to guard the car, walked up the steps and rang the bell. The door opened and a man looked out. A short conversation followed, in which the woman became visibly agitated. The man left the doorway for a short time and returned with cash in his hand. He gave this to the woman, said something else, and closed the door.
The woman stopped to speak with the driver of the truck, who had gotten out to stand on the sidewalk, watching the drama in the doorway. He took the money from the woman and put it in his pocket. They exchanged an embrace. The man stepped back and pointed toward downtown. The woman nodded. They got back into their vehicles.
The truck next parked in the lot next to the offices of the Skowhegan Reporter, on Water Street. This time the man debarked, and entered the office, while the woman remained in the black car, eyes closed, head on the back rest. The orange cat had climbed onto her shoulder and was watching out the window.
The man returned, knocked on the window of the Beretta. The woman rolled it down. A short conversation took place, during which the woman could be seen laughing, but not in a nice way. The man pointed toward north. The woman nodded. He returned to the UHaul truck, which did not pull out immediately. When it did, it made the left onto Water Street, and headed toward Madison Avenue.
The truck and Beretta were next seen in the parking lot of Mait Richardson’s Somerset Motor Lodge. The man and woman entered the office together, and were inside about twenty minutes. When they emerged, they drove into the campground, stopping in front of Cabin 5.
They debarked, transferred the contents of the car, including three cats, the grey and orange previously sighted, and a brown striped cat, in the carrier, into the cabin. Both drivers then got back in to the UHaul and drove to the storage facility on West Front Street, and transferred the contents of the truck into a 10×15 space. They then drove to the Madison Avenue Hannaford, where they bought two salads from the make-your-own salad bar, two bulky rolls and a bottle of cheap wine.
They then returned to Cabin 5, and closed the door.
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And so began an adventure. Speaking only for myself, I had thought we’d signed up for the Small, Tidy Adventure, but what we got was the Medium Sized, Messy Adventure, with a side order of Interesting Times.
Still, here we are 28 years later, and I really can’t think of any place else I’d rather live.