After seeing Dad that first night, I went back to his house in Cuero and tried to sleep. It wasn’t easy. Between the emotions and just traveling all day I couldn’t sleep. The two hour time change meant even if all was good I wouldn’t really be sleepy until midnight. Adding everything else on just meant satellite TV and I were going to get very acquainted.
Dad’s house is about 6 miles from the nearest town. Cell service is spotty at best due to some weird geography. You’d think, given how flat this part of the state is, a cell signal should reach almost everywhere. But since Dad’s house sat just below a ridge to the north a mile or so and the next tower was miles away to the south cell service is spotty. Internet is only available via a cell (see above) or a wireless service. There is no cable service or dsl. For someone like me who’s used the internet since the early 90s this is complete isolation. At some point Dad wanted a computer, I got him an iMac and would log into my ISP via modem from there.
Satellite tv is horrid at this hour of the night. Lots of infomercials and polka shows. Many channels just put on a repeat of the cheapest shows they own. If I’m lucky I’ll find something mildly interesting and I’ll eventually get sleepy.
Dad grew up in the 1930s and 1940s, living through the depression and watching his brothers go off and come back from WW2. Luckily Dad missed WW2 and Korean when he was drafted and ended up in Germany resupplying the troops and drinking beer. But the point is he lived through some tough times. He’s told me about hunting rabbits and squirrels with a sling shot because .22 shells were too expensive. And he’d bring home the squirrels or rabbits for dinner. I say all that to explain the fact that he keeps everything. That iMac? Still on the desk, with all the manuals and a printer, in the living room. National Geographic magazines back to the 1950s. There is a bit of clutter around his house, to say the least.
At 2am in the morning things get quiet. The highway noise dies down and even the wildlife seems to be asleep. By this time I’ve given up TV and I’m wading through National Geographics, Progressive Farmer and Texas Parks & Wildlife in hopes of sleep. Because it is so quiet, little noises are amplified. In my exhausted and strung out state at first I thought I had imagined the scratching. When I was sure I had heard something from the kitchen I crept that direction. I shuffled around the cans of peaches in syrup, shelf stable rice, cookies and crackers until suddenly a mouse shot out from behind a cereal box and leapt to the floor. It scurried across the floor and dove behind the ancient electric stove.
I look behind the boxes and see that the mouse had spent quite a bit of time back there. I found it sad that this was the state of my Dad’s house and this was the food he ate. Since I wasn’t going to get to sleep anytime soon, I dug around his counters and found some sticky style mouse traps. I loaded them up with peanut butter and positioned them around the stove and paths I thought the mouse might try later.
Resigned, I headed to the bedroom. I strategically placed my phone where I knew it would get signal, climbed into the hard ancient bed and did my best to fall asleep in the scratchy, polyester blend sheets from the 80s and hope the freight train wasn’t scheduled until dawn. And that the phone wouldn’t ring before I got to the hospital again.