The next two weeks were spent going to work, picking Kelvin up after work and going home to my trailer in Wathena. One evening after dropping Kelvin off at his apartment, I was sitting at the nurse's station getting ready for the evening's med pass, when a panicked Kelvin came off the elevator, stating," My apartment building burned last night and all my things are ruined!" His downstairs neighbor had been drinking and had gone to bed with a lit cigarette. The upstairs apartment above him, Kelvin's apartment, was smoke damaged. The fire had been contained in the closet where Kelvin had kept memorabilia such as pictures and letters from his mother. His clothes hanging in the closet were stained with water and the strong odor of smoke lingered on them, including his shirt he had gotten from his cousin Kyle, who had been in the Navy. Kyle had sent him a shirt from Singapore. It was a white shirt with blue Asian style designs on it and he was especially fond of that shirt. We had it cleaned and it was good as new. The firemen had gotten there quickly but deemed the apartment building uninhabitable. He had to find another place to live.
I didn't want to leave him hanging since he had no place to live, his family lived in Sacramento, California, so I told him he could live with me until he could find some place else to hang his shirt, so to speak. He thought about living with Kyle, now out of the service and settled with a new wife who was pregnant with their first child. I was hesitant in getting involved again so soon after the "fiasco" with Bill.
He never moved out and I liked having someone to come home to after work. He filled my head with tales of horror stories that were reminiscent of a Hollywood movie, action adventure. I should have listened and realized the things he was telling me were true, life experiences. I dismissed everything as I would after watching a television program, I could always turn off the set and go back to my real life and never think of it again, but this was a life he had lived.
He had a dog named Crusher. Crusher was a Pit Bull. He would only listen to Kelvin. He was a fighter and hated cats. He said he loved Pizza and would go crazy when Kelvin would show him a Pizza box. Kelvin took Crusher with him everywhere he went. One day he took Crusher outside, not having a fence around the yard and knowing his hatred for cats and other dogs, people etc, he had him tied up in the yard with a strong chain or cable. It was Summer time and in the summer in Missouri and Kansas the heat index can quickly get over 100 degrees and the humidity was thick as a blanket on a cold winter's night. It was 10:00 in the mornig when he put Crusher outside. The phone rang in the house. He ran inside to answer it. It was a buddy wanting to reminisce about the goings on of the previous night. He said he was on the phone for about 45 minutes. Off the phone, finally, he went back outside to get Crusher. It was already getting excruciatingly hot, Crusher was used to being in the house with air conditioning. He found his dog lying on the ground, barely breathing. He rushed him to the veterinarian's office. Crusher had died of heat prostration. The vet said because he was used to air conditioning, the period of exposure to the heat was more than he could bear. It was a long time before Kelvin could wrap his mind around the death of his best friend. He knew others who left their dogs outside all year round. They had gotten used to the gradual rise in temperatures or the sudden drop to below zero weather in the Winter time that the Midwest experienced. I had always kept Pebbles in the house when it was too hot or too cold. Our other dogs and cats were usually kept outside, Charles wouldn't allow them inside, but they had access to barns or sheds, trees that provided adequate shade. Kelvin lived in the city where it was hotter than the country, the heat from the buildings, pavement and cement kept the temperature at least ten degrees hotter or more.
In January of 1993 Lee ann, who lived in the trailer park by the Belt Highway, told us about the trailer in the park that was a double wide. It was very nice inside and out. There was barely a yard. It was 375.00 a month. I didn't know how I was going to pay that high of rent when the rent I was paying for the "cardboard" box I was living in was 175.00 a month, uncertain every month how I was going to come up with that. Kelvin said his disability check would start coming in March. We could use that to pay the rent and all I had to pay would be the utilities. It had central airconditioning, and a good furnace for the Winter. It was insulated and very warm.
While I was at work I got a call from Kelvin who said the move was done, and I just had to go to the new trailer when I got off work. It was so pretty. It still had the new trailer smell, new cabinets. A built in washer and dryer. No more laundromats for me!
In the Spring we bought roses and gladiolas for the scant yard. Kelvin built a fence around it for Pebbles.He spent his days planting the roses. We watched the flowers grow and bloom. A man he knew that lived in the trailer court worked for a construction company and helped Kelvin build a deck leading up to the front door. I bought a swing and he hung it on the deck for me.
In March he asked me to marry him one night, lying in the bed after love making. I questioned his sincerity of the matter due to the timing of the proposal. He said he felt as if I had saved his life the night of the apartment fire. If I hadn't taken him home to be with me, he would have been asleep in the bed. He couldn't go to bars anymore or get into any trouble due to his parole. The firemen said if he had been home he would have died of smoke inhalation. He said he loved me and didn't want to live without me ever.
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