A Door Knock
Before returning to the old house during… the first week of May… I failed to connect a “the dots”. I had been to the old house THREE TIMES during “winter” and had each time dainty footed my way to the door knocked and …been stymied. Each visit included a doorstep introspect inspection from that lofty vantage AND had included on the second visit the “walked down the sidewalk and looked up the skimpy, narrow BUT LONG… neatly cleared of snow “driveway” that was actually a very romantic 19th century buggy route along the side of the old house to the street from the “an old (small) barn (“carriage house”) back there “huh”. “Neatly cleared” was noted but not CONNECTED with the front door being THAT TOO and… that having the odd “neatly cleared” access to the front door from the street to the sidewalk. It was only “odd” if one came out the front door. IF…one was going TO the front door that “neatly cleared” was PERFECTLY positioned for a “someone’s truck parked there” who is going to knock on the front door or… for taking something OUT the front door and loading that into a …truck parked on the street. That thought with those dots connected didn’t occur for ME “until June”; “you idiot”.
As it was… my personal and professional vision was clouded by a hazy May basket view that I would… conquer the old house and …capture the pipe tongs just as the old lady returned from her winter in Florida and was discovered just raking off the leaves covering her crocus and daffodils along the front foundation: “SPRING”; the first moments of, are a door knocker paradise for… a lot of the time… the well watched old house with its “long winter wasn’t it” owners are, suddenly “OUTSIDE” “for the first time” “this spring” by …just a few feet so can easily …lean the rake up and go back inside AND… SELL ME (the happened to be passing by and SEE YOU “out” antiques PICKER) old dingy and dark junk that is NOW in their way in addition to representing the HORROR of winter just PAST with that realm… proven to be THAT by the SUNLIGHT OUTSIDE … and by the …leaned up rake. “Yes, I guess you SHOULD take THAT today” is a form of “spring cleaning”. Anyway; my vision was CLOUDED by that May basket when I pulled up and PARKED the truck… in front of the old house AT its long ago melted away neatly shoveled street to front door route. There was a “no sign of THAT” “anymore”. But:
The front door was open.
That’s right: The front door to the old house was WIDE OPEN with the inner doorway being jet black due to the polarization of the bright sunlight on the white house front. BLACK “I cannot see in” that open door but it is WIDE OPEN so I am… out of the truck, skip up the steps and KNOCK – KNOCK WHO’S THERE on that door… way… while squinting into the darkness and seeing nothing but EMPTY while hearing a footsteps coming that DID NOT SOUND LIKE a tottering old lady… and: Around the left room’s doorway (open) corner comes… a man. A young man. I was still on “a man”. I got “young” into the equation… sort of soon. That was complicated because noting the EMPTY front hall was elevated by my seeing past the man into the left room and that appeared to be EMPTY TOO.
The young man says “May I HELP you.” in a not questioning tone of one who has already been confronted …by such as I… from the front doorway A THOUSAND TIMES… in the last hour.
“My, MY name is ***** and I AM an ANTIQUES DEALER who VISITS with the lady who LIVES HERE and I was JUST GOING BY (this fine and temperate spring Saturday morning) and SEEING HER DOOR OPEN have STOPPED BY TO VISIT”.
“Well your woman friend no longer LIVES here. MY AUNT; I am her NEPHEW, has MOVED OUT.
“Moved out? She never said ANYTHING to ME about THAT.” I said.
“Well when did you last SEE HER?
“See her? DECEMBER.”
“December? Before Christmas then.”
“Well she moved out just before Christmas.”
“And she’s MOVED? Where to? She LOVED this HOUSE.”
“THAT I know TOO WELL. But she has moved away now”.
“That is… well… BURLIINGTON.”
“Yes. She needed to be closer to US.”
“I am her nephew. I’m her GUARDIAN now. We had been working on the ARRANGEMENTS. SHE didn’t want to live with US and, well… WE didn’t want that EITHER.
“Well… MY WIFE; we live in BEDFORD”.
“Yes. So she is now in assisted living.”
“Your wife?” (deliberately fudged).
“NO: Aunt Sarah. We live in BEDFORD. Right near by.”
“Oh I see; you’ve MOVED HER to assisted living in Massachusetts.”
“Yes; at Christmas. She’s just fine. She enjoys it very much”.
“Well she LOVED the house. And her ANTIQUES. That’s what we SHARED together. It’s quite a surprise for me. I NEVER thought of her LEAVING the house. Or her ANTIQUES.”
“Well that’s all behind me now. It just couldn’t go ON. This was becoming TOO MUCH for her. All kinds of problems in here; the house is VERY OLD.”
“Oh yes I know that. That’s what we SHARED about the house. And her OLD THINGS.” I said and here gestured to the EMPTY front hall that I could now see to the end of and had …discerned… that HER “grandfather’s clock” WAS NO LONGER THERE. “Her CLOCK is gone.” I said.
“Yes. The auctioneer has taken it.”
“To sell it?” I said. “She's SELLING her CLOCK?”
“Yes. WE are selling her antiques to help PAY FOR her CARE”.
“Care? The assisted living?”
“Yes. We had an auctioneer come and take her GOOD antiques to his AUCTION”.
“No. I found an auctioneer NEAR US who came UP and took what he felt he could SELL.”
“Oh. He took EVERYTHING?”
“No, no: Just what he WANTED. I showed him photographs and he came up with a TRUCK.”
“Oh. So he just took the ANTIQUES.”
“JUST the BETTER antiques. There was a lot LEFT. I had a friend of mine who is an antiques dealer come up. He BOUGHT the REST. YOU are an antiques DEALER you said?”
“Oh yes; absolutely.”
“Well I don’t have much left now”.
“To sell. I’ve sold all of it and we’re starting to CLEAN OUT today. I will be selling the HOUSE.”
“Selling the house? It’s empty? Your cleaning it out?”
“Starting today. Its really not as bad as I thought it was. The realtor is coming at eleven”.
“Clean out today? And selling it?”
“Well there’s not much left to SELL. I sold all that I could. Just the trash is left. And some odd stuff Mackey didn’t want”.
“My friend the antiques dealer.”
Pause; I standing in the entry way with “I’m Nathan Bishop by the way.” extending his hand from his poise in the left room doorway. “I’m the nephew of Sarah Bishop”.
“Sarah? Yes. IN this room WE would have COFFEE and TALK.” I said stepping forward with gesture to cause “Nathan” to step back into the room. I came on too and QUICKLY saw (1) the desk was gone and (2) the TABLE was where the desk had been… with an empty cardboard box on top of it and… a pile of clutter was on the floor next to it… AND another cardboard box… that had the CUTTER from the DESK in it. Otherwise the room was empty. “We ALWAYS sat at THAT table.” I said now in the room.
“Yes. That was HER TALKING TABLE. She kept it out here to use when sorts such as yourself showed up”.
“Oh yes she was ALWAYS having antiques dealers SHOW UP. For years”.
“Oh. Yes. I see. I understand.”
“But that’s over now. We’ve cleaned out the house. Just this clutter is left. I think I can get rid of most of it today.”
“How much is the table?”
“The table? That table? Your interested in that?
“Well. A little bit. I used to sit at it with your AUNT”.
“Yes but that. Oh I see. Yes. That. Well. No one else wanted it and I sure don’t.
“To sell it?”
“No, no. Sell it of course but I don’t WANT IT.”
“Oh? How much for it?”
“Well how much would YOU PAY?”
“I pay? Well. Its in AWFUL condition.”
“Yes. That’s what they all said.”
“How about five dollars?”
“Five dollars?” Nathan said looking over at the table. “Sure”.