"The Death Chair"
Before I continue... with the nonchalance... of my... involvement... with the... unwanted yet fully attached... gentleman... sneak... thief ... OF this estate... clean... out: I do not rid myself of unwanted for I ...need... to know where they are... when I go to emptying an old dead woman’s... property of her... old things. Before....
I gesture to a closed door... that was always ‘kept closed’ yet had been wide open... for and by I... as I trespassed WITHIN... and plundered ‘it’ (that room) AND closed that door ‘again’ when I was done. Before I gesture to remind the gentleman sneak thief that HE has always been forbidden ‘in there’. (Forbidden fruit IS that room to him).
Before... he sticks to me like glue with beady eyes that flit hither-thither as he... feels with his verbiage to... endeavor... to gain... a feel... of my ‘I’ in this ever more empty... cold... dark... old ...house. I
Know that I did... move the ‘death chair’ ‘in there’; into that room. After I sat in it. AFTER I plundered that room. After I pulled the bed sheets off and pulled at, calmly, the pillow cases to ‘just see incase’ the DO THEY TOO hide a treasure (?)...such as an old POCKET WATCH... long used for timing the night... This bed did not...; the pillows, sheets and bed... did not... hide... a dead woman’s ...old pocket watch for ...timing her night.
In fact the whole room was a little ‘sparse’ for ‘antiquarian plunder’. The old dead woman’s room; her bedroom: I cleaned it out... and took that clean-out out. And put the death chair IN... to that room. After I sat in it... for a minute or two... to reflect on mortality; mine... and everyone else’s. That everyone includes, at my courtesy, the reader.
There were (still) other ‘things’ left in the room; the old bedstead. The... carefully select... ‘I found’ that I was ...not done with... and... not much else. I wish to speak about the ‘death chair’... that I have put IN the ...old dead woman’s bedroom.
In addition to being an ‘old chair’; an ‘antique chair’ I... must see past that to a more clinical ‘huh’. I denoted it, when first shown... now what? Four decades before now? At least. I denoted that is was, at core, an old... typical... traditional... (three slat) ‘ladder back’ ‘stick’ chair that... probably was made locally... and made of local hardwoods... in the closing decades of the 18th century... or perhaps... the opening decades of the 19th century. A stickler for ‘that date’ I am not.
The chair before my eye was... missing its once attractive ‘ball finials’ at the top of the slat staffs. Worn silky smooth are their nubs. The chair... was originally painted red and ...the chair retains that original and single coated old red painted surface. It also has its original handmade... probably of ash splints gathered within... less than one hundred feet of the bedroom... two centuries ago... ‘seat’... that is, too, ‘worn silky smooth’. That is the ‘old chair’.
To become the ‘death chair’, one... or maybe two... ‘mothers’ ‘died in the chair’ first. This is substantiated by legend only. But it stuck. THEN there came a mother; number two or three... who ‘lived longer’ in the old... thin... frail... and mentally blank (senile) condition that... required her absolute occupancy of the ‘death chair’ ‘for years’ as the homestead lived on around her with... she... being ‘in it’ (that ‘old chair’ AND household). There came, then, that day... where it was decided to alter the chair so that ‘your mother’ is better (and more safely) confined to it... while being ‘in it’ (that ‘old chair’ AND the household).
The old chair then... was altered by addition... to become an arm chair... with whittled and mortised ‘arms’ at the sides that were attached by hand-cut-from-board ... shimmed supports ‘nailed’ onto the front chair leg sides and... to the whittled and mortised arms...too. Below that; at the feet... what would pass at first glance as very thin and awkwardly pointed ‘rockers’ “worn flat” were added ‘too’. Are they rockers... ‘worn flat’ from neurotic rocking ‘by an old’ woman or... were they... just... simple strips of whittled wood ‘added’ to ...prevent the chair from ‘tipping over’ from the front or back?
It doesn’t matter. Once in the chair, the old... thin... frail... senile ... being ‘in it’ was IN IT (the death chair)... and ‘in it’ (the household) until she died.
“In the old chair”.
That (the chair) remained ever the same ever after and was so titled
“The death chair”
I own the chair now.
And I have sat in it.
The chair; ‘I own it’, is ‘around’ in my antiquarian world. My antiquarian day. It’s for sale. I don’t say that; ‘It’s for sale’. Why bother? Every now or then a somebody stops and sort of stares-at... it for a... whatever... and then says a ...whatever... usually directed to the obvious antiquarian merits of the chair as it is before them and... whatever. Why bother?
No... I never say anything. I am told. And I never speak of ‘the death chair’ or that this is a ‘death chair’ or that this is ‘the death chair’ from the **** ***** estate “you know; the OLD HOUSE up on the top of COON HILL”.
“OH I KNEW HER. SHE WAS VERY OLD WHEN I WAS JUST A GIRL. VERY SMART they always SAY. GIFTED”. ONCE SHE MADE WINE from the DANDLELIONS in her YARD.”
“She died in the chair.”
“Really? Died in that chair?”
“Really? Died in that chair?”
Once one visitor... questioned: “Why did she DO THAT?”. Now-ah-days, if anyone asks... I just give them a price (“Two fifty” - $250.00). That’s that. I don’t really know what I’d do if someone actually bought the chair. I mean... they’re not going to DIE in the chair. And their butt is to big to FIT in the chair. Probably they’ll just put a ‘cushion’ on the seat and ...let their cat sleep on it.
Every now and then when I drive up over Coon Hill; past the house, I think of the chair; ‘the death chair’. The house doesn’t look the same anymore. It’s been ‘fixed up’. There’s a new chimney now. They (the current owners) took the old chimney “out” and put a new chimney “in”. And stuff like that. It would be as (‘like’) if I... painted the death chair... pea soup green.
I’ve even thought of dying in the chair myself. I mean... thought of it... not TOO much. I have gathered... that one actually has to be pretty old to get to the point where one could actually be in ‘the death chair’ to die... in the ‘death chair’. So all these dead mothers had to ‘live a long time’. And: I really understand that for her to die in ‘the death chair’ she had to work at it; prepare. And... I understand too, now, that others before her... understood this and did prepare. In fact... I’ve come to realize that having to be confined to ‘the death chair’, for an aged, frail, thin and senile mother... could actually be a ‘sense of relief’; an... ‘all is as it should be’ ‘for me’... This ‘that’... today... is very lacking as an... ‘of these matters’. What I am saying is that... very few families... have a ‘the death chair’ to... fall back on. These days.
I have now remarked to the reader about ‘the death chair’... reasonably well. There is a little more ‘haunt’ to it I fail to convey. There is, too, a lack of stressing the... being alone in an old dead woman’s old house; being in her bedroom... alone... ‘cleaning it out’... alone... when the clouds roll by the blue sky I use from the windows as light so cause that light to... always be toning and moving as if... I am not alone in that... cooling down edge of fall ...afternoon... VISIT to a bedroom... for the shadow’s motion suggests... even to my hardened soul... that I am, actually... not... alone... in the bedroom.
I stop what I’m... cleaning out; her ‘dresser’ drawers... and I go over and close the door to the bedroom... like it has always been... was... and now is... closed. I return to the dresser... drawers. One never knows what one will find... in a dresser drawer... in an old dead woman’s bedroom... in an old... cold... dark... dank... New England home... at edge of fall... and... all alone. I always do this; ‘clean out’ the estate principal’s bedroom... alone. I don’t want any ‘idiots’ around. The haunt doesn’t either. I close the door and ‘all that’ ‘waits out there’. And I hadn’t moved the death chair into the room yet. It was still ‘waits out there’. Too. When I closed the door... I looked at it... sitting just where she died. In it.
That made it easier for me to... ‘strip the bed’ for, well... she didn’t die... in that bed. She just slept there for ...over half a century. I am sure I was the first ‘other’ to touch that bed in... well... forty years. I understood THAT too... while I... cleaned out... her ‘room’.