I need to start this thrilling missive with what will most likely seem like a crass commercial. It is not crass, though if it serves as a commercial, so much the better.
I need to take a moment to briefly describe Chris, who, with her husband, Len, have been kind enough to open their guest home to me for these past two weeks.
They are consummate hosts: polite; thoughtful; considerate. Chris, to give you more of an idea about the kind of person she is, has traveled to Ghana on more than one occasion to personally oversee a charity she runs called ROUTEStoAfrica. She sells beautiful African baskets - the sale of each basket provides enough money to send a student to school for a year in Ghana.
|1 basket = 1 year of school. So buy a basket!|
I write this for two reasons. The first, to help spread the word about her good works. The second, slightly more pressing at the moment, is to give you an idea of what kind of person Chris is and to clearly demonstrate how out of character it appeared to me when she single-handedly stopped an invading army of tourists.
Kerri and I were enjoying our coffee this morning when I heard voices outside. Not unusual in this very outdoorsy town. But these voices seemed close.
Looking out the window, I saw this:
|An Asian assassin slipping stealthily from the street, through the bushes into Chris and Len's garden. The invasion had begun!|
We shrugged and peered out the other window to see this:
|Another Asian assassin, this one, a younger lady, complete with baby backpack and camera.|
I've seen enough awesome kung-fu movies to know that something was up.
As a responsible guest in Chris and Len's home, I pulled up chairs for Kerri and myself and offered to make popcorn as we watched events unfold. Kerri thought that popcorn might ruin the taste of her coffee and suggested that perhaps I should alert Chris and Len to this infestation of tourists.
"Maybe they're Chris and Len's friends," I suggested as we heard branches crack in the driveway alongside our house. I jumped up to see the older guy, pedaling through the huge wooden gate, between our cars, and up into the garden between the houses.
|Don't mind me. Just wandering through the yard.|
Soon, the garden party was in full swing, the attendees posing for pictures, checking out the lovely plants and wandering down the large, wooden deck that runs from Chris and Len's house to the river.
Kerri did eventually convince me that I should probably call Chris and Len, which I did, albeit grudgingly because I was enjoying the show. I got Chris's voice mail and left a message calmly explaining that her backyard was being overrun with tourists who were surely amassing to take over Waterville Valley in a spectacular kung-fu war that none of us could possibly hope to survive.
My duty done, I sat down on the deck with my coffee to await further developments.
I had hardly had two sips of coffee when all the fun began. Chris - kind, polite, considerate, conscientious Chris emerged from her back door like this:
|Git outta ma yard, ya varmints!|
Kerri remembers it somewhat differently, but she's not here right now so you'll have to be content with my version of reality.
This is Chris and Len, explaining to the tourists that they are trespassing.
|Git outta ma yard, ya varmints!|
"How could you possibly think this is a public park?" Chris asked. "You pushed your way through the bushes and walked through the gate and up my driveway!"
"Sorry, sorry, sorry," the people muttered as Chris did not brandish a shotgun like I wish she had.
This is the parade of would-be kung-fu assassins, slinking down the driveway in shame:
I assumed the thrills for the day would be over after that, but I was wrong.
That was just the warm-up act.
Soon, Kerri and the kids had to leave. I was naturally upset to see them go, especially because I was expecting a tour bus full of tourists to appear at any moment and I wanted someone there to watch my back.
As they were packing their things into the car, Chris called to tell me that the police had been at the Rey Center looking for me.
Naturally, I began speaking with a terrible French accent. "Marty? Ee Eez no 'ere. Ee as gone to Paree. Ooo la la."
Chris wasn't fooled and gave me a number to call.
"This is about that dead Barbie," Kerri suggested. "You're probably the prime suspect."
I tried to rush my family away so the children might be spared the sight of their father dragged away in shackles, but they would not not budge until I made the call.
Terror gripped me as I dialed the phone number with a trembling finger.
"Hello?" I squeaked. "This is Marty Kelley. You called?"
"Yeah. This is Captain Katsirebas. I have some questions about an outstanding warrant for your arrest."
I swear that's what he said.
Things got a little woozy for a moment before he laughed and said, "They told me you had a good sense of humor. Ha ha."
Turns out that Captain Katsirebas is the husband of a good friend of mine from high school, Deb.
"Ha ha," I whimpered, breathing slowly and steadily until my vision cleared.
He very kindly invited me to join their family for dinner later.
My family, seeming oddly disappointed that I wasn't going to star in COPS: Waterville Valley, piled into the car and headed home.
I sadly waved goodbye and got ready to head downtown.
I was scheduled to meet Maryellen at The Rey Center to pick up the artwork that I had on display. I left somewhat early. The weather was nasty, but I had my free boat ride coupon that I had fished out of the pond the other day and I was going to use it, doggone it.
I waved my coupon around when I arrived at the dock. "I have a coupon, my good man!" I announced. "Lead me to your finest sailing vessel."
If I was expecting to pilot a 50 foot yacht, and let's be clear here–I was expecting that–I tried not to let my disappointment show when I was lead to a small plastic kayak with a damp seat.
|Look! I'm on a boat, yo!|
I paddled listlessly through the water, making chugging noises and pretending, without much conviction, that I was piloting a 50 foot yacht through the Mediterranean.
I was headed out toward the far end of the pond when I saw it.
|The Mysterious Letter in the Bottle! It's BACK!|
I paddled furiously for the raft, grabbed the bottle, and read its secrets.
|I had been hoping for something a bit more... desperate sounding.|
|The map inside, woefully inadequate, I'm afraid.|
Despondent now about: No Kung-fu fight, no family, no yacht, no desperate soul in need of rescue, I paddled around the pond a few times.
|Town Square, seen from a boat.|
|Town Square. Also seen from a boat.|
|The bridge, seen from a boat.|
|My shoes, seen from a boat.|
I was headed back to the dock when I happened upon this large, plastic culvert.
I'm fairly certain that all of you would have had exactly the same thought.
"Can I fit my kayak in there?"
Although once in, the excitement subsides rather quickly.
It started to rain pretty hard at that point so I headed back to shore to discover that the drain holes in my yacht were perfect for letting in gallons of water to strategically soak my ankles and both butt cheeks.
It was a soggy-bottomed, cold-ankled Marty who met Maryellen in The Rey Center a few minutes later.
We posed for some pictures and I said my good-byes.
|Goodbye, Maryellen. Thanks for everything!|
|Can you find me? I'm drying off my pants by sitting on Curious George! Maybe I'll be a new character alongside The Man in the Yellow Hat. I'll be "The Man in the Soggy Pants".|
I waddled home to slip into something more comfortable and less wet before joining Deb, John, Megan, and Ethan for dinner.
|Yay! Everyone else looks great. I look like a dork and you can see up my nose all the way to my brain. Such is my life.|
It was delightful to see Deb and her kids again and to meet her husband, John. It was even more delightful that at no point during dinner did a platoon of police officers spring from their hiding places, toss me to the ground, and arrest me for the murder of Barbie.
But I still have one more day here.