FoundlingReview

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I am an old woman, and I live with my dead husband - nothing wrong
with that. Reid, that's my dead husband, never was much for talk
anyway, just a big part of my life for fifty good years. Like Reid,
the years have passed, along with the rest of my people, and my
hearing and eyesight, all gone, leaving me with memories, collecting
like dust on the top of the hutch. Reid sits by my chair and helps me
recount them, helps me find the ones tucked away.

The only family member that isn't a memory is my granddaughter
Trinity (on Reid's side), the last leaf on either tree. And not a leaf
strong on memories. Come to think of it, the girl isn't strong on
much, certainly not sentiment. Trinity wants me to sell the house.
Too many stairs, too many rooms. My tired, old heart and limbs. To her
mind, I would do better in a retirement home; she shows me brochures.

I would have plenty of money for the rest of my days, no worry of
pension checks and coupons - enough left over to buy her a Honda, see
her happy, incentive for her to finish school. I offer a compromise: I
stay in my house, and Trinity stays in my will. I give in to the
Honda, after all, Reid left me well looked after, enough that I don't
worry about pensions and coupons. In return Trinity moves in to help,
and I concede to stop talking to dead people (in front of her, anyway).
It freaks her out, her words, not mine.

It works for a few months. She shops, cooks and cleans, drives to
school, then she meets Logan and drops out.
   
Logan, the purple-haired groper, is at the house all the time, quick
to make me consider rank in life used to count for something. My dues
are long paid, and I feel entitled to a degree of respect, but after
meeting Logan, I realize times have changed. In my time, before the
world went as mad as a March hare, social grace was alive and well,
and someone in their autumn wasn't made to feel they were in the way.

Since Logan's arrival, Trinity's hair has turned green; she doesn't
shop or clean, and her cooking has atrophied to mac and cheese four
nights of the week. Clothing has become a sometimes thing, Trinity
prancing with that horrid serpent tattoo on her belly, as many
piercings as a tugboat has rivets. In my room, Reid warns me never to
go anywhere with her; her bejeweled body is likely set off one of
those metal detectors, and with my bladder, I couldn't last the
interrogation.
 
Logan becomes a fixture; day in, day out. He adores her mac and
cheese, plays the ponies, working the odds, face always in a racing
form.

They plan to get a place of their own as soon as he clears up his
last mess, wants to find real work, talks about taking out the trash,
mowing the grass, and giving the rooms a fresh coat of paint. The only
exertion I see is the reading of racing forms and groping of my
granddaughter. Tongues, hands, you name it. His fingers squeezing what
he calls her big, white cookie ass - his words, not mine - her
squealing with delight. Poor girl. Poor, stupid girl. I turn down my
hearing aid and feign sleep in my chair or retire to my room. Reid
rarely kissed me in public, and when he saw me naked it was usually by
accident.
 
Trinity keeps up the talk of painting the place, probably just to
cheer me and prod him. She suggests navy for the living room, eggplant
for the dining room. I'm for robin's egg blue, and by and by we settle
on cloud white, but I imagine it will be done the day pigs fly over
the house. Logan is not a man of action, or purpose, or promise. A
losing streak at the track has him in a blue funk and welded to my
settee, an authority on Oprah and port wine and racing forms, while
the trash cans stink, and the front lawn becomes a hay field. His car
has three wheels and one concrete block. Trinity reads my anxiety and
thinks it's all too much for me, and she starts leaving out the
retirement home brochures again.

Logan and Trinity have friends over at all hours. They track filth,
they are drunk and loud and smoke and play cards. Dishes rise on the
kitchen counter like mesas among the empty bottles; the phone bill
climbs, the music grows louder and boots multiply in the front hall.
There is yellow on my bathroom tiles, lights left on, smoke hanging on
the ceilings, people sleeping in my chair, guitar leaning on my hutch.
I speak to Trinity about it, and she promises things will soon change.
Logan will find work and she will be back in school. A month goes by.
No work, no school. Then another month.

The house sells quickly, a nice couple expecting their first. Trinity
and Logan are stunned. Over mac and cheese, I tell them about my new
condo all painted Cloud White. If they organize a garage sale - mostly
the stuff in the basement and attic, Reid's old power tools, fixtures
from the bathroom we remodeling so many years ago, some unwanted
furniture - they can keep the proceeds. It's amazing what we hold
onto, isn't it?

The movers send two good men that wrap my furniture with care and
long rolls of plastic. I pack my keepsakes in boxes, photo albums and
good linens and cutlery. I organize my clothes, give a lot of it to
Goodwill, along with a few leftover pieces of furniture.
 
Logan and Trinity scarcely speak to me. They pack their things into
her Honda and watch the tow truck take his car. They will drive me to
my new condo en route to some basement flat with Logan's friends.

I go back in the house while Logan gets the last of their things on
the roofracks. Just one last look around, a goodbye. The place seems
smaller, foreign, sad. I am leaving it to a nice couple. They will be
happy here.

I go upstairs to say goodbye to Reid. I hope he will come with me,
but just in case, and I admit there are some tears.

When I come back downstairs, Logan and Trinity are gone. No sign of
them. Sitting on the stoop, I wrap my sweater around my shoulders and am on
my second piece of DentaChew when the taxi comes. I dread how much the
fare will cost, but like I said, Reid left me well looked after; I can
afford the ride.

While I wait, I feel lighter than I have in years, anxious to see the
new place. There may be a bit of a paint smell, but the painter thinks
it won't be that bad.

There is one more change I may make, but that can wait till Monday.
Trinity will be in my will for two more days, after that you'll have
to ask Logan about the odds.



Dietrich Kalteis is a writer living in West Vancouver. Over twenty of his short stories have been published over the past year. His screenplay ‘Milkin’ Dillard’ has been optioned to Bella Fe Films, and his short story collection ‘Big Fat Love’ (Cantarabooks) is due out in 2010.

 


This one took shape from the opening line which kind of came out of the blue over coffee one morning. With one eye open, I jotted it on a scrap of paper and lost it in my  to do  pile. When it resurfaced some months later, I scratched out a draft and just let the characters develop and tell the story.

 





  


Copyright 2009