This is Billy Joe finally checking in from home in Alabama. Sorry it’s been awhile but we flew back to America from Costa Rica and drove back to my house outside Mobile some time ago.
Sounds simple, right? Wrong.
Apparently one of my relatives who reads my blog (you know who you are) mentioned to a friend that me and Chester were flying home from the Liberia Airport. To make a long story short, the friend’s husband works at the county public health department and he only got the “Liberia” part. He told his bosses and that really screwed things up to a fareuwell.
When Chester and I flew into the airport in Atlanta, we got through customs just fine. No problema, as they say in the Costa Rican language. We got our car and made the long drive home to down near Mobile, Alabama. When I rounded the corner to my house a sheriff’s deputy was sitting out front talking on the phone. When I slowed down and pulled into my driveway he jumped into action. I’ll try to describe this next part in detail because I still can’t believe it.
The deputy turned on his overhead red lights and did a quick siren just to get everyone’s attention, I guess. He sure got Chester and mine with his next move. He jumped out of his car and pulled his revolver. Then he walked toward us but stopped at about 15 yards.
“Get out of the car, NOW!” he said, pointing his gun at us. We were ordered to collect our things and walk single file to the front door.
“Fred, it’s me Billy Joe, your cousin. What in tarnation do you think you’re doing?” I asked as I turned toward the deputy. It was then I could see the fear in his eyes.
“Don’t take another step closer, Billy Joe. You and Chester march yourselves into the house. You’re in quarantine.”
As we stepped onto the porch, I saw some sort of health notice taped to the door. I couldn’t read it too well in the dark, but I saw the word “QUARANTINE” in all capital letters. I noticed my cousin, the deputy, didn’t follow us onto the front porch but stood in the yard, pointing his gun at us.
“By order of the county health department and Sheriff Sid Welch, you two are to stay in this house for a maximum period of 45 days as a result of your visit to Africa,” my cousin said.
By now, a crowd of neighbors was gathering on street and they were all pointing at us and talking. They didn’t seem none too happy about things. Chester and me looked at each other and then look at the crowd and decide we’d better get inside before things got any worse. I hadn’t seen my neighbors this upset since someone ran over neighbor Harelson’s coon dog.
When we got inside, I turned on the lights and had sooner sat down than the phone rang. I answered it and it was Sheriff Welch himself on the other end.
“I’m calling you from the mobile command post around the corner,” he said. “You and Chester are now in quarantine. For the next 45 days, you are not to leave the house for any reason. Groceries will be brought to you and left on the front porch.”
I asked the sheriff what the quarantine was for and he told the same thing Fred said — that we had been to Africa and visited a known ebola hotspot, namely Liberia.
I protested and tried to tell the sheriff we didn’t fly out of any airport in Africa but he thought I was not telling him the whole story.
“You made the mistake of telling a relative you were flying home from Liberia so don’t try to lie you way out of this,” he said.
“No, really. We just arrived home Costa Rica. We didn’t go to Africa.”
“What airport did you fly out of?” he asked.
“The Liberia Airport, ” I said, “but –“
“See, I knew it. You admit you flew home from Liberia.”
Yes, but, no, wait!” Now I was getting confused. “The Liberia Airport is in Costa Rica.”
“Sure it is,” the sheriff replied. Like they would name an airport in Costa Rica after the name of a foreign country. How stupid do you think I am?” I wasn’t about to answer that question.
Apparently the sheriff had called the airline at the airport in Atlanta to confirm we were passengers on a flight from the Liberia airport.
Some TV news trucks pulled up in front of our house after that and it got kind of weird. Their reporters stood on the sidewalk with their backs to the house and talked to the cameras that were pointed at them. Every once in a while, they’d sorta turn and point toward my house. After that, there was a steady stream of slow-moving cars and trucks driving up on down my street. Apparently word got around our community fast.
I wanted to get on the Internet and look up Liberia but my Internet connection wasn’t working. It stayed like that for days, and then weeks. I called a bunch of times to have a guy come out and fix it but you try ordering something from “the ebola house” and see how long it takes for a repairman to show up.
And that’s why it’s been so long since I checked in. That and I almost died of boredom being cooped up with Chester. He’s OK for a vacation tag-along but add another six weeks on top of that and we’re talking some serious boredom. I mean, how many games of charades can we play?
Being cooped up makes me yearn for Costa Rica. I’ve decided to start selling my stuff as soon as the quarantine is lifted. That is if anybody will even want to buy stuff from the “ebola house.”