The Great Patio Furniture Incident of 2013

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Chapter 53 of Criminal is staunchly refusing to be tamed by editing, so I procrastinated by writing up one of my family's many ridiculous adventures. True story, although names have been changed to protect the innocent (or, to be more accurate, the guilty).

Submitted: March 15, 2019

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 15, 2019



It is a story of religious fervor.

Of addiction.

Of thievery.

It is a story which needs only a hefty dose of sex to have the makings of a primetime telenovela, a story which is already legend amongst the members of my family, a story which will no doubt be passed on through the generations.

I am speaking, of course, of the Great Patio Furniture Incident of 2013.

Like all epic tales, this one begins long before the fateful happening; specifically, 2007, when my family moved into our house. Unbeknownst to us prior to the move, the neighborhood was almost entirely populated by members of a popular local religion.

Or, to be more exact, members of a radical denomination of a popular local religion.

They called themselves “close-knit.” My parents called them “cultish.” At any rate, they were none too thrilled to find their homogenous community invaded by a Lutheran pastor and his family, a sentiment which they made irritatingly known. The years that followed were full of pranks (bottles of Gatorade dumped in our mailbox), nasty notes (nothing threatening, just insulting), and general rudeness and snobbery. For a brief while, we befriended a sympathetic Catholic couple who lived across the street, but they soon moved, and my family was once again alone among the Cultists.

That is, until 2013, when Eleanor and Bill moved into the house three doors down from ours.

Even before they arrived, word spread quickly through the neighborhood that the new owners of the house were non-Cultists. My mother, determined that no one else should be thrown to the wolves unawares, dragged my father to their house to warn them about the community. They returned from the visit slightly puzzled.

“They seem… nice,” offered my father, in a slow, careful tone. “They said they appreciated the heads-up. It’s just…”

“We made them nervous,” my mother frowned. “Not what we were saying– us. Our presence.” She shook her head. “I’m sure they’re just tired from the move. Still, it was odd. Almost like—almost like they had something to hide.”

As it turned out, Eleanor and Bill did have something to hide, although they didn’t manage to hide it for very long. They hadn’t been here a week before a neighbor called the police on them for a screaming, drunken argument they had at 2 a.m. It was the first of many police calls. For Eleanor and Bill were drug addicts and alcoholics, and acted with according responsibility. Between their frequent fights and overdoses, it seemed like either an ambulance or police siren was sounding up and down the street at all times.

“I feel bad for them,” Dad admitted, as a police car screamed by for the third time in a week. “I really do. Addiction– now that’s a hard thing to kick. There’s not many who can do it.”

“I feel bad for them, too,” Mom sighed, covering her ears as another police car followed. “But I have to say– why do they have to be the only other non-Cultists in the neighborhood? I don’t think they’re helping to enhance our status with the neighbors.”

“Well…” Dad sighed. “I suppose they could be worse, couldn’t they? At least the only people they hurt are themselves.”

“There’s that,” she allowed. And there was.

Until, of course, the Great Patio Furniture Incident of 2013.

It is important to note that the patio furniture in question was no ordinary patio furniture– at least, not to my father. It had been a Christmas present from my mother’s parents in 2012. They’d bought it more or less on a whim, having noticed our front porch was both fairly large and very bare, and weren’t even sure we would like it.

My father loved it.

Apparently, he had wanted patio furniture ever since we’d moved into the house, but hadn’t said anything because he knew we couldn’t afford it. Now he saw my grandparents’ unexpected and unprompted gift as a sign from above.

“I think this means good things are going to start happening to us!” he exclaimed, eagerly examining the two metal chairs and table that made up the set. “Things are going to change for us now– they’re going to get better.”

“Because of a patio furniture set?” My mother did her best to hide a laugh.

“It’s a sign,” he insisted. “From God.”

“Mmmm.” Mom’s murmur was suspiciously polite. “Well, whatever it is, it looks nice. Why don’t we go set it up out front?”

And so they did, and there it stayed for six months, until one day, in June 2013, my family awoke to find the patio furniture missing.

“Well,” my mother said, examining the empty front porch, “so much for that sign.”

“THE PATIO FURNITURE!” my father wailed, distraught. “Where did it go?”

“Looks like someone stole it.” She glanced across the street. “See, I’m almost positive they had a table and chair in front of their house, too. And so did they. And they—” She pointed. “Someone must’ve come through with a truck last night and stolen from the whole block.”

“Well, how can we get it back?” Dad demanded. Mom stared at him.

“What part of stolen do you not understand?” she asked. “It’s gone. It’s too bad, but that’s how it is. You can check Craigslist to see if you can find someone selling it, but I’m guessing we’ll never see it again.”

Dad kicked the ground forlornly.

“It could be worse,” Mom tried to suggest. “They could have stolen a car, or the dog, or one of our children. At least all they took was patio furniture.”

He just shook his head. “It was a sign!”

“Well,” my mother shrugged, “apparently it wasn’t a very good one.”

Disappointed as he was, my father didn’t dwell too long on the unfortunate theft. As my mother had pointed out, it was only furniture, and there were more important things in life. A week later, he could even joke about it.

“This would happen to our family, wouldn’t it?” he laughed, one night at the dinner table. “That’s just how we are. Can’t move a table without putting it through the wall. Can’t make bacon without burning a hole through the rug. Can’t have patio furniture without some ass—”

“Ahem,” my mother interjected, looking significantly at me and my younger siblings.

“Some— some nincompoop stealing it,” he finished. “Ah, well. Guess it makes a good story, doesn’t it?”

Little did he know that the story was not quite over.

Ten days after the theft of our patio furniture, my father got in his car to drive to work. The hour was 8:32 a.m.

He returned at 8:37.

“Did you forget your wallet?” Mom called from the laundry room. “It’s on the counter, by the—”

“I have my wallet.” He stepped inside and leaned against the washer. “I— I need to talk to you.”

“What?” She set the laundry basket down and frowned. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. Everything’s fine. It’s just—” He took a deep breath. “I found our patio furniture.”

She stared at him for several seconds.

“The patio furniture?” she repeated. “You mean, you found who’s selling it?”


“On Craigslist?”




“Then where—”


“Eleanor’s?” She wrinkled her nose. “What website is Eleanor’s?”

“Not a website.” He drummed his fingers against the machine. “Our Eleanor. Neighbor Eleanor. Eleanor and Bill. That Eleanor.”

“I see.” Mom clearly didn’t. “And— and what about her, exactly?”

“Yard sale,” Dad said shortly. “She’s having a yard sale.”

Now Mom began to understand. She stood up straight. “She’s what?

“Having a yard sale,” he repeated. “Our patio furniture’s there. The Gomez’s patio furniture is there. The Watson’s patio furniture is there— she’s got eight sets of patio furniture for sale in her yard. All of it stolen, I’m guessing.”

Mom opened and closed her mouth several times before speaking

“Do—do you mean to tell me,” she finally spat out, “that not only did our neighbors steal our patio furniture, along with the patio furniture of everyone else in the neighborhood, they also set up a yard sale to try to sell it three houses away from us, less than two weeks after they stole it?”

 “That’s what it looks like, yes.” Dad chewed his lip.

“Well, did you say anything to Eleanor?” Mom wanted to know. “Such as, I don’t know, give me back my patio furniture?

“Of course I said something!” His face reddened. “I said, wow, that looks just like the patio furniture someone stole of my front porch a week and a half ago.

“And?” Mom prompted, when he didn’t continue. “What did she say?”

“She, uh, she said it wasn’t the same.” Dad scratched the back of his neck. “But that she’d, uh, give it back. For twenty dollars.”

“Twenty dollars?” Mom shook her head and snorted. “How idiotic does she think we are? Pay twenty dollars to get back something that already belongs to us– I hope you laughed in her face and told her in her dreams!”

“R—right,” Dad stuttered. “In her dreams. Absolutely.”

“You know what makes me maddest?” Mom continued, storming out of the laundry room and into the kitchen, where my little sister Rosie and I were eating breakfast. “All the Cultists are going to use this now! You see what all those pagans are like? Drug addicts, thieves, sinful— you know, it’s one thing if Eleanor and Bill want to make their own stupid decisions, but this is giving all of us non-Cultists a bad name. And after we were nice enough to tell them about the cultists when they moved in, too!” She actually stomped her foot. “Ohhh, it makes my blood boil!”

“So, uh, what do you think we should do?” Dad ventured, following her. “Should we go over together and demand she give it back, or just take it, or—”

We can’t do anything. I’ve got to take Michael to a doctor’s appointment.” She brushed past me and Rosie and headed for our brother’s room. “But you just do whatever you think is best.”

Dad let out a nervous laugh under his breath and sat down at the table beside us. Rosie and I stared at him, dying to know what was going on.

“Did you tell Mama that you found our patio furniture?” I finally burst out, unable to contain my curiosity any longer. “At Eleanor’s house?”

“Yes. Yes I did.” Dad hesitated a moment before speaking again. Then he cleared his throat.

“Rosie, Kay,” he said, a sheepish smile spreading over his face, “do either of you happen to have twenty dollars I could borrow?”

“I don’t believe you,” my mother groaned, slapping her forehead in exasperation. “You actually bought back the patio furniture?”

“He borrowed my money to do it!” Rosie piped up proudly. “And me an’ Kay helped him go get it!”

Our patio furniture,” Mom continued, glaring at Dad. “Which we already owned!”

He threw up his hands in mock defense. “I didn’t want to flat-out accuse them of stealing! It was easier just to buy it back.”

“Bless your heart,” she sighed, in the acidly sweet voice Southern ladies use when what they really mean is “you’re an idiot.”

“Don’t bless-your-heart me,” Dad protested, crossing his arms. “It was the smart thing to do! Do you really want to confront a couple of violent alcoholics? Who knows what they’d do!”

“I guess you’ve got a point there,” Mom conceded. “At any rate, it’s over with now, and we’ve got the patio furniture back.”

“So we have,” Dad nodded. “And this time, we’re putting it on the back porch!”


© Copyright 2020 KathrynAcacia. All rights reserved.

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