A Door Knock
When hunting objects that are rare… to curl up as a snake to strike cannot be done. A flaccid slither, steady and slow, is my best preparation. A divination of simple luck must transpire before one curls. Before one strikes. For an object rare… it may not need to be the divine of luck. It may only need to be… logical destiny.
The ‘next bedroom’ became ‘the bedroom’ as I entered. “The old woman’s room” I noted to myself. Against the wall… and on the floor… before the window… was an old mattress… with crumpled bedding on it… resting on a steel wire mesh spring set. I had seen this estate fabricated human sculpture many times before. It means:
“THE BRASS BED” said Nathan as I walked toward it.
“Brass and IRON” I said.
“BRASS BED.” Nathan said again.
“No. Brass and iron. I grew up sleeping on one.”
“Sleeping on one?”
“My bed. My room. I slept on that.” I said gesturing to the steel wire frame protruding from below the old mattress.
“A BRASS BED?” Nathan said.
“Brass and IRON” I retorted aggressively. I was not in the mood to be professionally pummeled by an estate plundering neophyte over the …quintessentially… abysmal ‘brass bed / iron bed’ antiques-in-an-estate quandary …that leads to an… ‘estate fight’. A brass bed is made of ALL brass tubing fitting OVER steel tubing. A brass and iron bed, much more common… and commonly used in all bedrooms of old Maine estates… EXCEPT in the ‘master bedroom’, here found to have had a …CANNON BALL BED… but could just as well ‘had’ ‘a brass (master bedroom) bed’… has skimpy brass decoration here and there on the cast iron bed frame. ‘Maine Children’ such as myself NEVER slept in a ‘brass bed’ and ALWAYS grew up sleeping in a brass and iron bed …that one never forgets …because it is ‘noisy’ from the iron grating and steel springs squeaking. “WE” (Maine children) never knew a ‘BRASS’ bed existed until ‘we’ became… ‘antiques dealers’.
“MACKEY TOOK IT.”
“Yeah. They’re a problem”.
“Brass beds don’t sell?”
“Brass and IRON”.
“It was a BRASS BED. Mackey TOOK IT”.
“Right. He didn’t care.”
“WHAT you thought it was. They’re hard to sell.”
“Hard to sell?
“Modern bedding doesn’t fit on ‘em”.
“Fit on the bed?”
“Can’t be USED; the BED can’t be USED.”
“To SLEEP on.”
“Modern bedding doesn’t FIT IT”.
“Oh… Well… Mackey LIKED the BRASS bed. He said so.”
“He liked the whole estate is what he liked” I said… getting testy and failing to ‘slither along’.
“Liked the estate?”
“He’s not gonna say anything.”
“About the bed.”
“The brass bed?”
“Right. Like the snuff bottle. IT’S CRACKED. He’ll tell you. No money.”
“Right; it’s cracked. Six bucks. He’ll tell you. He doesn’t care. He got the estate.”
“Got the estate?”
“Cleaned out the estate.” I said gesturing to the whole room.
“The auctioneer was here first”.
“Right. He liked it too.”
Nathan and I were starting to cross the ‘getting testy with each other over a “brass” “bed” classic inner-estate-dealing BRIDGE TO NOWHERE together and …that was not good… for me. NOT that I cared for this estate ‘had been stripped’ so what do I care because ‘everything’ is ‘gone’ and I’m stuck buying bedroom floor JUNK SCRAPS for TWO DOLLARS from a greedy ‘piss-me-off’ know-it-all who just… pissed the greatest art he’s ever gonna get in his whole life away to two antiques dealers who “THANK YOU” and LEFT… forever. I stepped away from the bed pile. I turned to the …in this estate iconic… center of the room trash pile here consisting of …old woman’s clothing. ?.
It was THAT (an old woman’s clothing) and I turned internally… to return to a … flaccid state of slow and slither… and… kicked the pile.
I look down. I see two little round flat black iron “pennies” before my boot toes and protruding from under the cloth pile and:
I KNOW WHAT THEY ARE.
Logical destiny cascaded through my mind UNDER the mental SCREAM of “THE PIPE TONGS”. The logical destiny report mentally orated “Bedroom; her bedroom; dresser; her dresser; said; she said; kept pipe tongs; in bedroom; in dresser; in drawer; in clothes. Mackey; clean out; didn’t clean out; boys cleaned out bedroom; move bed out; move DRESSER out; take drawers OUT; dump DRAWERS OUT; pile of clothing; TRASH PILE of CLOTHING; PIPE TONGS IN CLOTHING IN DRESSER DRAWER DUMPED OUT BY BOYS MACKEY DIDN’T SEE IT ON THE FLOOR IN CLOTHES RIGHT THERE RIGHT NOW”.
Seconds past in extraordinary slowness. Within the extraordinary slowness of those seconds I coiled and slowly bent forward and downward as I began to mentally watch my physical self from a disembodied above as I… bent and coiled. And lifted the cloth edge covering the now exposing tong shaft to JUST SENSE the full …18th century wrought iron mechanism… above and:
WATCH disembodied from above my coiled state retrieve the “WHAT DO I SAY THEY ARE?????” and pull myself erect too …turn in my coil and RELEASE in a full body STRIKE extension TOWARD Nathan saying “TWO BUCKS FOR THE ‘PICK UPS’.”
“Pick ups?” Nathan says sounding distant, faint and slow. Blurry to my eyes my hand extends them toward him as my hand fits the grip and squeezes the pennies apart at Nathan who… blurry and slowly to my eyes… faintly reaches to take the “What did you say these are?” he’s saying to me in a way that sounds very, very, very faint, slow and far away in my blurry, drifting view.
I see myself from above and hear myself saying “Pick ups; old women use them to pick up things”.
“Pick up things?” says Nathan now reversing the pipe tongs in his OWN hand himself and …fitting it to the grips …and squeezing the pennies apart AT ME as I:
REBUTT very slowly and faintly “Like clothes and stuff they drop…like… BEHIND their DRESSER. Don’t have to BEND OVER.” that I hear myself from above saying as Nathan squints downward AT THEM and I:
PLUNGE INTO THE DARKNESS OF ALL TIME STOPS eternal quiet no sound slower slowness nothing can be deepest black as this deepest black is now time stopping air vanishing NO SENSE OF ANY FEELING desperate falling? I DON’T KNOW!
“OK” I hear a voice say in blackness and SEE an arm twisting WITH the pipe tongs before me PASSING THEM TOO ME and I from above hear my self say ‘ok’ very faintly and see from above my hand to pocket REACH and extend the pulled money wad to PEEL the two dollars as I FALL back into my body from above with a ROAR OF SOUND coming from BLOOD RUSHING THROUGH ALL OF MY BODY as I give over the two dollars and pull in the offered pipe tongs to only reach them BEHIND my back and put them in my back pocket with one hand assuredly putting the mechanism DOWNWARD leaving only the pennies on their shaft ‘sticking out’. Starting to coil again I CATCH myself and return… to a slow flaccid slithering state that:
Steps PAST Nathan and OUT of the bedroom and AWAY …to the next bedroom. To the next room after that. And then DOWN a ‘back stairs’. And to more rooms. A shed. The barn. ALL THREE FLOORS OF THE BARN. Buying “a dollar” JUNK. In a dream. With the tongs in my back pocket. Always and I never touch them. Until… I’m done. I’ve paid. I am outside by the truck cab ‘loading’ the first ‘stuff’. I open the driver’s door, pull the tongs from the pocket, toss them on the passenger’s seat, toss a jacket over them and:
Go back to ‘load out’ with engaged fake stupid verbal banter with Nathan who… wants me out of there now anyway so: That goes smoothly and quickly and …he makes the final point of “keeping” the “did you say this is a SNUFF bottle?”. And I get in the truck. I close the door, start the engine, put my seat belt on. I DRIVE AWAY.
The house is still for sale as I write. I have never gone back.