UNITED STATES—”She always says, ‘How long are you staying?’ And then it’s, ‘when are you going?’ And then: ‘After you’re going I’m going to cry.’ And then it’s, ‘When are you coming back?'”

“She’s awful needy,” says Davy. “I’m there for a 10-minute visit and she says, ‘Are you going to spend the night?'”

“She wanted me to get the job. I was coming down for one weekend a month. She wanted me to sit at the foot of the bed in your old dark bedroom, and visit. There are not a lot of jobs for women my age. And we were all happy when I got the job at the plant. Now she wants me to give it up. Homer says no way I should give it up.”

“I’m with him,” says Davy. “You go and get all the loot you can.”

“That’s what Homer says, too.”

“I’ll tell you the truth, Karen. I can’t stand sitting there in the dark, on the floor, and listening to her. I get all antsy. And sometimes I can. That’s just how it is. Sometimes wine helps.”

“That’s what our neighbor said when all this started with the broken hip: hydrate.”

“A little warm up?” The waitress comes by and offers to a pour from the round, glass coffee pot. Nobody offers resistance.

“To tell you the truth, I get really antsy sitting there. My fingers twitch. I want to have a look at all our things. Like my baseball cards and records. But they’re all there buried by clothes and bric-a-brac.”

“I can’t get into any of the closets in my own room. She put so many clothes in them, the rods cracked. There’s so much stuff on the floor, I almost break my foot every time I get up to go to the bathroom at night,” Karen says. “We didn’t defend our own things as we should have. She took over everything over the years, especially after Dad died. We need to defend our own things and take our rooms back.”

“There was a secret glee to be going through the contents of the storage locker. I have to hide that from myself: the sinful joy of being able to take stuff and throw it out.”

“I know what you mean,” Karen says. “She would be there and stop for some piece of junk. ‘Well, you know, we might be able to use that someday’ or ‘that would be good for the garage sale,’ the imaginary garage sale that she would dream of, but that never happened.”

“Getting in unit 635-C stirred up dark energy,” Davy says. “It was forbidden for us to touch for some long. Impossible.”

“Dad could only spend two hours out there. The smell, the memories.”

“I had the feeling something was going to happen. It was like totally normal to get the call from the hospital three days after we had finished the impossible job of cleaning it out.”

“It was bound to. The firemen have been to the house five times in the last year, at least.”

“Karen, I despise things after growing up in that house and talking about the garage that was impossible to control. The garage could never be just a garage. And every time she would have one of her club events, out would go boxes to the garage. And then she started taking boxes to the. Growing up in that house and living with the unclean habit of things left undone.”

“You know, her caregivers love mom is a way we never can,” Karen says.

“She looks away when I kiss her,” Davy says. “And she likes to chuckle, ‘I’m going to make you work for your inheritance.’ Well. she’s making us.”

Karen and Davy want to cry and laugh at the same time.

“Oh, waitress, more coffee please!”

“I have something to confess,” Karen says. “Homer and I are having problems, Karen says. I get home and our living room has been redecorated by the woman up the road, where Homer spent Thanksgiving.”

“I’m sad to here it,” says Davy. I thought you and Homer were forever.”

“Maybe we are, Karen says. “I’m working on that one.”

To be continued…

 

 

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Hollywood humorist Grady Miller grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)