If you are reading this message, then my plan worked. I can’t believe it, but it worked. I beg you, whatever you do, do not move to New Castle. I repeat DO NOT move to New Castle. Please, please, learn from our mistake.
It all began in June, a month before we moved to this prison. Jim fetched the mail from the lobby in our apartment building and came in all grinning like a Cheshire cat. Now, he liked to play tricks, so I learned early on not to always fall for things, so when he said we just won the lottery, I didn’t believe him. I don’t even like the lottery. But, then he showed me the postcard from New Castle. Congratulations Jim and Sally Kline, you have been selected to join our community!
I couldn’t believe my eyes. Neither Jim or I would have ever thought we would have won! We even laughed about it on the way home from the store after putting our name on the entry form and slipping it into the box on the table. There was no way we would be picked from the thousands of entries to move away from the city and into the new home-only community. I had even forgotten about filling in the entry until just then. We entered six months ago.
Wow. We were finally going to leave our tiny studio apartment on the eighth floor of a walkup in downtown. I would finally have a garden. I always dreamt of having a garden. Jim could finally have the workshop of his dreams so that he could continue woodworking. Maybe he could even make a little money on the side. It was going to be perfect. This was our lucky break. One we had both been silently hoping for.
In June, we had to go to the local office and sign paperwork to move in on the first of July. The representative gave us a binder filled with community rules and regulations. It all seemed very picayune at the time, but that should have been our first warning to not do this! We took the binder, blinded by our desire to own a home and went back to the apartment to pack. We packed the binder without reading it.
July 1st came, and we were enjoying our new home’s porch when neighbors dropped by. They seemed nice enough…maybe a little too nosy, but neither of us had lived in a regular neighborhood in our lives. We thought it was normal. It wasn’t! Our first Saturday in the house, Jim went to mow the lawn in the morning and you would have thought it was out there killing someone the way the neighbors acted. As soon as he started the mower, Mr. Boots came running out of his house next door screaming about how Jim was disturbing the peace. It was 9:00 in the morning! Mrs. Howard from across the street came running out in her nightdress screaming about respecting the rules. It was 9:00 in the freaking morning!
I got scared, started crying and called for Jim to come back in the house. Thankfully he did because Mr. Boots grabbed the lawn mower and threw it into the street breaking it. Who would have guessed that a guy, who had to be at least 60 if he was a day, could pick up a lawn mower, but he did! Jim was fuming, but he just got a cup of coffee and sat on the couch, muttering about stupid neighbors. I decided we had better look at the binder we were given.
The table of contents had the usual history of and board member crap that we had seen before when we were looking at co-ops before finding our old apartment. Rules went from page eight to two hundred and fourteen. Jim flipped a gasket when I read that out loud. We joked about moving into the Stepford Wives. Apparently mowing lawns is only permitted between six and seven on Monday or Thursday night. I am only allowed to tend my garden between seven and nine on Tuesday or Wednesday mornings. Children are allowed on the playground between eight and three on Saturday only. The list went on and on and even included what we could do in our own homes.
According to the New Castle rulebook, I am only allowed to bake bread twice a month. I don’t even bake bread. Jim had a good laugh when I said he was breaking the rules by washing his morning stubble down the drain. Apparently, he was supposed to collect all hair droppings, take it to the community gazebo and deposit in the collection box there. Weirdos!
We had only been in New Castle for a week before community police arrested us. They had a list a mile long of all the infractions we had committed. Jim sneezed and didn’t say excuse me while walking by himself on Tuesday. I dared to be seen in my hallway wearing only a bra at three o’clock in the morning on Thursday. The list went on and on.
Jim laughed, and the officer began fustigating him. I was tied to a chair and muzzled because I wouldn’t stop screaming and crying over what they were doing to Jim.
I don’t know what happened to Jim, but I know what is going to happen to me. They constructed the gallows yesterday afternoon. Tying this message to a dog’s collar is the only way I can let others know not to make the same mistake we did. PLEASE DO NOT MOVE TO NEW CASTLE!
“Come here, Max,” the Mayor called and whistled. “Who’s a good boy? You’re a good boy.”
He petted the dog. “What do we have here?” He took a rolled-up message tied to the dog’s collar and read it. Laughing, he tossed in it the paper recycling bin as he headed to the gallows for the morning event.
© Teresa Grabs, 2018. You can find me on Twitter @TeresaGrabs.
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