Notes From Bisbee

by Debrah Strait on May 23, 2016

Well, my career as a sneak thief is over. Most days wearing my fake foot merely feels like wearing a boot. But sometimes it’s noisy, producing a crunch and a squeak with every step. At the start of 2015 I focused mainly on walking again, finding it both easier, and more difficult, than I had anticipated. Friends told me it had taken longer than a month or two to learn how to walk the first time all those years years ago, but I wasn’t comforted. It wasn’t so far to the floor the first time.

Still, I needed only a single physical therapy session. The therapist came to the house and walked me across the room without even a cane. Since then it has simply been a matter of practice. In August, I tried a flamenco dance class. That didn’t go as well; the footwork was too intricate. So I think I’ll go back to belly dancing.

Mostly, I’ve been learning how to do things a little differently. I have to plan ahead a bit more, but life hasn’t changed much for me. I’m a little slower at things, but I do everything I did before. For instance, stairs are no problem at three-four inch heights. At five or six inches, I need a railing. Higher than that, I look for an alternate route. But I tell myself a lot of these accommodations would have had to be made as I aged anyway.

Last summer I drove to Tucson to meet with the Hangar Clinic’s V.P. in charge of prosthetics. He was very nice, and gave me a silicone sheath to wear that makes my fake foot comfortable. It keeps me from being a cripple. And the V.P. has an interesting history. A few years ago a dolphin in Florida lost her tail and this man was on the team that developed a sheath that allowed her enough comfort to wear an artificial tail. That story was recounted in a movie, Dolphin Tale, starring Morgan Freeman.

In October, my prosthetic foot got stuck on my leg. A thin sock I wore inside the heavy sleeve that holds it on became entangled in the threads of the socket inside. I didn’t want to call the police for help because the problem was unusual enough to be printed in the newspaper’s “Police Beat” column. I couldn’t afford an ambulance or a trip to the hospital emergency room. It was early morning–still dark–so I couldn’t call a neighbor.

I drove myself to the main fire station where a couple of very nice (and young!) EMS fellows let me in to see if they could help. They warned me they no had experience with this sort of thing, which I didn’t either. Amid a lot of laughing, it took us fifteen minutes to wiggle and pull the foot off. Fortunately, the entangled sock was of a really loose weave and it came apart, kind of. Then I put the foot on, minus the sock, drove home, and went back to bed.

We had good rains last winter. Except for the storm that flooded the high school auditorium in February. The water was several inches deep and went up to the 9th or 10th row of seats. At my house, the oleander bushes that were cut back after the freeze a few years ago grew fast with all the rain and now stand 10 to 15 feet high. My peach trees thrived, too. I sprinkled an organic repellent around the them, so I didn’t lose many to deer. Although, I suspect the rain greened up the mountains enough that the deer didn’t have to come into town to eat.

The people and creatures of Bisbee worked hard to amuse us this past year. In May, Bible study at a church was invaded by their former pianist, who choked a man and hit him on the head. Another head incident involved a hang-up on the police station’s 9-1-1 line. The dispatcher called the number back, and a man answered. He said his wife had made the call because he’d hit her on the head and she wanted him arrested. I don’t know if officers obliged her on this. In November, a boy hit his father with a rock, but we don’t know what injuries occurred. Then a father dumped a plate of spaghetti on his son. A man also called the police to report that his wife was yelling and arguing with him.

Several calls to the police station must have confused the officers. A woman wanted to be notified by law enforcement any time something happened in front of her residence. Which a lot of us think is backwards. Another caller advised the police that the driver of a green Dodge pickup goes to the liquor store five times a day, and we’re wondering how the caller knew. Then a woman called the police to report a mouse in her kitchen. Now, I’ve dealt with a lot of mice over the years, and it never once occurred to me to call the police about them. Maybe I should have.

Some reports were truly odd. A woman at the laundry told the person reporting that she would hit her as hard as she could with a fly swatter if she ever heard a specific story about the caller again. Another resident reported an anonymous call made to the supervisor of the CIA that she, the caller, was going to get a gun and shoot the supervisor’s mother, who unbeknownst to the caller was already deceased. I still haven’t figured out that one.

One fellow left his standard shift car out of gear and it rolled into a dumpster, which hit the neighbor’s car. Another fellow called the police to report that a homeless person was living in his attic. He’d been hearing noises for two weeks. Yet another man hung around the Copper Queen Hotel for several days, asking for a free room and cigarettes. He must not have known that the hotel is smoke-free.

A man ran into a staircase on Clawson Avenue during the night. On foot or in a car, we don’t know. There was a report of a man being hit by a car but police found him to have merely fallen out of the car. Another resident reported a man lying in a driveway. He claimed to be able to become invisible. By the time the police arrived to investigate, he had disappeared.

Two men were hollering on Bisbee Road, claiming that every car on the planet could be hot-wired. Then a caller from my neighborhood advised that two subjects were trying to murder him. They had sneaked into his house and sprayed his clothes with MERSA. He said his clothes smelled bad and he wasn’t feeling well. Then a woman called to report that her neighbor was a serial killer. And she knew that because he allowed his dogs to jump over her fence.

A man called the police because he noticed a lump under his carpet, which turned out to be cocaine and heroin in little baggies. A window had been tampered with and there were vehicles patrolling around his home.

One night in April, around 9:00 p.m., a sheriff’s deputy observed a car going very fast without lights on. The driver refused to stop when the deputy pursued it and continued up the highway toward Tombstone, where a Tombstone deputy marshal picked up the chase. The driver drove on, hitting the brakes now and then to dissuade the officers from following her. Finally, instead of tapping the brakes, she stomped on them, and the Tombstone unit crashed into the back of her car. Nobody was hurt.

Animals, even official ones, provided entertainment last year. A fellow called to complain that when he was pulled over for a traffic stop, a K-9 dog checking his vehicle ate all the food he’d just bought. K-9 dogs working at the Naco Point of Entry from Mexico were hassled by a very skinny pit bull.

Three little pug dogs hopped into a car that had stopped to drop off a passenger. A woman reported a neighbor’s dog jumped the fence and bit her dog, which now has a hole in it, Another woman was attacked by her neighbor’s dog. She wasn’t bleeding, but the dog was. We don’t know how that happened. A new dog on Hovland Street was reported for barking back at the neighbor’s dog that, apparently, has been barking there much longer and had seniority rights.

A resident killed a deer and stashed the antlers in the back of his truck. A large wolf-looking dog came along, snatched the antlers out of the truck and ran off. The caller said the dog was walking up Bisbee Road, looking pregnant and stray. Carrying or wearing the antlers, we don’t know.

What dogs didn’t get into last year, donkeys did. In Naco donkeys caused a traffic hazard fighting and going after cars. Then a donkey was reported for chasing a woman who was walking her dogs northwest of town.

Our cows-in-the-road problem finally came to a head the other day. A bull and a car collided on Highway 92 west of town. A picture in the newspaper showed the car roof mostly inside the car. The driver was treated for minor injuries at the scene, but there was no word about the bull.

For cost reasons, our Library Director, Public Works Director and the Fire Chief were all let go. We’re managing, but things look a little different around town. Also, Ilona, our Visitor Center Director, retired. She’d been in that position almost as long as I’ve been in town, nearly 20 years now. It feels strange not to be able to drop by the Visitor Center for a chat now and then.

One thing that didn’t change was the fraudulent phone calls we’ve been getting. Those of us who still use land lines receive these calls despite being on the “Do Not Call” registry. One man received a call from somebody saying that if the resident didn’t return the call, the police would respond. So, of course, the man called the police. I’ve received calls from people claiming to represent Microsoft and wanting to fix the security systems on my computer. I suppose I could have lied and told them that I own an Apple computer, but instead I just called them thieves and liars. And then I got rude.

I recently received a call from a man claiming to represent a company that would help me take care of my electric bill. Since he had the amount of my bill all wrong. I knew he was a fake. When I told him he had the wrong number, he demanded to know the right one. I didn’t think quickly enough to give him the police dispatcher’s phone number.

A woman reported receiving a fraudulent IRS call threatening action against her. She knew it wasn’t a legitimate call because she doesn’t file tax returns. I have received a threat that if I didn’t call a certain number within the next few hours, the IRS would be filing five counts against me in Federal court and the sheriff would be coming to arrest me. I called the sheriff instead.

The border has been relatively quiet. A mountain lion expressed its opinion of the 15′ high fence on TV. A newscast showed the majestic creature lounging on the top of the fence, looking serene, one paw hanging down. ‘Course, my favorite image of the border remains the video from a couple of years ago of several U.S. senators posing in front of the fence to exhibit their concern about border issues. Meanwhile, cameras caught a young woman climbing north over the fence just a few hundred feet away. The senators’ photo op caught them looking very surprised.

My friend Cinda, a former Brewery Gulch neighbor, began her year in Scotland. On Easdale Island in the Inner Hebrides, she participated in the World Stone Skimming Championship. She won first place in the “Old Tossers” category; her medal was a piece of slate. It was a nice start to 2015. I hope your year was good, too, and that 2016 is shaping up nicely.

P.S. I put together 22 of my short, short stories and published them in a small book. I managed to post a few mini “Notes From Bisbee” on my website, On Thanksgiving weekend I held my very first book signing at the local book store, met lots of nice people and even sold some books. Also toward the end of the year, the Saturday Evening Post awarded one of my stories an Honorable Mention in their story contest, and e- published it in their 2016 anthology of Great American Fiction.

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