balanced on a block of wood as if someone has planned to set up campin our gravel parking lot. Zebra-print curtains flap in the open window.The door dangles from one hinge.
I don’t remember exactly when my father tells me about it or when Ifirst mention it to my husband and his sister. My mother-in-law, the actual owner of the property, has recently, unexpectedly, died from complications related to diabetes.
“Don’t worry,” my father assures me, “I’ll get rid of it.”
He reports it to the police, who write down the license-plate number
and tag the street-side window with a bright pink sticker. After a few
weeks pass with no response, he calls again. An officer tells him the
phone number linked to the plate is out of service. There is nothing they
can do. The city does not tow abandoned vehicles from private property.
“Where in the hell do our taxes go?” he asks me.
Out of Idaho’s forty-four counties, our north-central town of thirty-three thousand at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers—touted as the gateway to Hells Canyon—pays the third-highest propertytax rate in the state.
“And for what?” he complains.
He calls the local salvage yard. They will take it only if he removesthe holding tank, refrigerator, and stove. He also has to haul it to themand pay a fee.
He refuses to pay. I do too, so I don’t even bother telling my husbandor his sister. “It’s a matter of principle,” my father and I say to each othermore than once. “The city should help us—why are we responsible forsomeone else’s trash?” We consider hitching the trailer to my father’struck and moving it into the street—then the city will have to deal withit—but are hesitant to actually follow through. My father’s phone number is on police record. If anything, we rationalize, he’ll receive a citation. So the trailer stays, and over the next year a clutter of feral catstakes up residence, cascading from the window—an orange, white, andblack rainbow—when they hear my father’s truck, before vanishing beneath a web of blackberry bramble.
Now March has come around again, and my father tells me thatsomeone has moved in.
I don’t believe him at first. He’s seventy-three, suffers from intermittent blurry vision related to dry eye, and refuses to wear glasses.
“Who’d sleep in there?” I ask.