Goldilocks, a Very Cold Winter Night, And a Strange Sense of Empty-ness

So we arrive at the cabin, and something seems amiss. With each new clue uncovered, we are at first disturbed, then aghast, and finally, astonished. None of it made very much sense until we found the note. Wow. The note.

The reason we were there at all was to drop off an old refrigerator and to check on things. There are two cabins, one semi-heated for winter, the other closed down, and into the second of these we would haul the fridge, staying for the night in the first.

Someone noticed a bag of cans, mostly soda, and some beer bottles, not our brand, sticking out of the snow. Since this is something that does not belong, one is inclined to assume that we just don't remember what beer we drank last fall. We put the bag on the ground loading the car in December, maybe, and accidentally left it there, and it got covered with snow. Maybe. But it did not seem right.

Someone saw a couple of cigarette filters in the ash bin by the wood stove. Nobody smokes, so this is out of place, but a worker here, a visitor here, the guys who laid the floors last summer smoked, these could have gotten there a lot of ways.

"Hey!" someone said, "Somebody's been sleeping in my bed! I think. Maybe. I'm not sure, but I think so...."

The three bears were much more sure of themselves, it seems.

Wait. Why is there trash in the trash can? We never leave trash. Why is the pump on and the hot water on? They are always turned off. It really is like someone ... someone not us ... is living here. But WE live here (part time). Creepy.

Finally, someone opens the cabinet with the booze. There is a lot of booze that used to be there but now is gone. Five or six bottles that had a few shots now have a drop.

Ohmygod, the Scotch... Find out now, what is the status of the 200 year old Scotch made out of Pleistocene age Peat and filtered through the socks of a Scottish Lord, or whatever, to add that special taste and aroma....????

Hmm.. the Scotch is untouched. Mainly the Gin, Vodka, and anything sweet is gone, or reduced to a dribble.

Ah, and then, the note.....

Written on yellow legal paper, with a black marker, very large print. The words are all legible except the ones that are key ... probably the lies are glossed with a drop in legibility. Like, "Sorry I don't have my homework. My dfds ate my homework.." (The what ate your homework? The Drfdus? The dryfts?? The dorgg??? Whatever...)

The note was left in the liquor cabinet because that was the scene of the crime, at least, as perceived by the perpetrator. The litter laying around outside, the cigarette ashes on the coffee table, the burned up firewood, all that was just long-distance hospitality. The first few drinks were probably just hospitality as well. Hospitality not offered but accepted, not known about when given, but now accounted for by a palpable feeling of emptiness.

A palpable feeling of emptiness when you pick up the Vodka bottle and ... look, it is empty. A sad feeling of emptiness when you pick up the Gin bottle... look it is empty too! Very sad! The Godiva Chocolate Liquor for Greg's Chocolate Martinis ... A single drop, and a deep and hollow feeling of emptiness. Greg is so sad.

And among all this emptiness, emptiness only possible among so many empty bottles, the note. Folded up and stuffed between L's Southern Comfort (Empty) and M's Maker's Mark (Empty).

The note:


If you'll still have me -- I will clean both places for free -- the rest of my life thank you -- It's minus 48 -&- we have a new tire.

Ah... yes, this does explain some things. Weeks ago, during the cold snap, the woman hired last summer to help clean up between rentals, a new family who lives in the vicinity and hires themselves out, recently laid off from yet another restaurant that closed up on the north side of the lake. She had called from the cabin, surprising everyone ... oh, right, she knows where the key is. They had let themselves in to avoid dying in the cold while waiting for a tow truck to come and help them with a flat tire they got out on the road ... none of which made a lot of sense given the remote location of the cabin. But whatever, the important thing is that they did not die in the cold, like a few others across the state did that night.

At the same time, something was obviously not kosher, and we figured, well, the dog is eating their homework, figuratively, and we'll have to see how this all plays out to truly understand the meaning of this particular flat tire.

The notes says they have a new tire. But the note is not done. There is more. Much, much more...

I actually try not to drink...

Oh no, this cannot be going anywhere good....

... I actually try not to drink & am very responsible. Apparently after 4 teenage dea... (illegible... decrees? decngs? Deaths?) in 1 family in 6 months .. something goes wrong. I have never taken anything in my whole life. I called my best friend from here. Vietnam vet --- he's something (dying?) -over the road something (trucker?) - he's in Virgina Beach 84 degrees & having and umbrella drink [sic].

I told him we were here & he said to call you & be honest. I owe you a liquor cabinet... So sorry, explain later.

We are your faithful companions....


I am left feeling slightly nostalgic for every roommate I have ever had.

Well, they don't owe anyone a liquor cabinet. The cabinet is fine. They mostly drank the dregs, and the good Scotch was untouched.

A sense of violation? Well, yes, there is that. But that is easily fixed with the installation of a few new lock cylinders.

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I guess that is one of the hazards of having a second, remote home. The good thing is that they didn't damage anything (except the cabinet.) And they were able to keep warm. And they smoked outside.

And they left you the Scotch.

At least they left a note. They weren't the sort of yahoos who trash a place without giving it a second thought. It looks like my own unique handwriting so I can read it after a fashion (I think it is "4 teenage deaths in 1 family").

Romeo: You ADMIT this is YOUR handwriting! We need to have a talk, young man....

Maybe I'm weird, but the last time I hung out at someone's Up North place while they weren't there, I added to the liquor cabinet. On the other hand, I did set a robot loose.

By Stephanie Z (not verified) on 16 Mar 2008 #permalink

At one time in our country's history the use of unoccupied cabins in a pinch was routine, and cabins were left unlocked for that reason. Read Waldon. The Indians in our part of the country were deeply insulted by settlers locking their cabins when away. Of course, we had real winters back then.

By BlindSquirrel (not verified) on 16 Mar 2008 #permalink

Hey, don't forget the bears were more sure of themselves because the intruder was STILL THERE! They'd only been gone an hour or so.

Wierd. A largely unoccupied cabin and a sense of possession. That's so first world nation, laden.

Yes, yes, yes, I know all about the "keep the door unlocked for the wandering hiker" and so on. In this case, the wandering hikers needed to work their way past a 24 hour gas station, through a couple of 6 foot snow drifts, and down a windy country road in order to find this particular cabin to seek help getting their tire fixed.

The other cabin --- the one without the liquor cabinet, but with a perfectly good wood stove --- that one's unlocked in case anyone needs shelter.

She obviously has some trace vestiges of remorse left - otherwise she would haver drank the scotch too (unless like me she can't stand the taste)

Now Greg - leaving 200 year old scotch anywhere but in a fully locked cabinet guarded by vicious scotch terriers and a couple of the Queen's Royal House Guards is simply asking for trouble ;)

I can relate as I imagine something happening like that in our cabin 3 hours away. It's not totally remote, but remote enough. Yikes.