Monday, January 10, 2005

Misunderstood Desks (part 2)

What happened next? What did happen next? Do I relate this story with mirth? bile? melancholy? regret?

Do I start with the double-dealing author, who left her box of secrets in our garage? Or do I begin a little farther back, when life tugged at our edges, and we all got out of town?

Start with the desk. The bamboo desk is gone. Enter a third desk, which once belonged to the woman who sold us this house. She was a writer (on the lam, it turned out), and a mighty serious desk she left behind.

Mission style. Imitation Stickley. Dark oak stain. Nearly as deep and wide as a twin bed.

We were glad to buy some of the writer’s furniture. What little furniture we’d had wasn’t worth hauling across the country. What little furniture we kept included only the few irreplaceable pieces, my grandmother’s table among them.

Adam had purchased the writer’s desk for me as a wedding present. My desk having again become a kitchen table, the new desk was meant to fill the void. The writer had written her books on this very surface, said Adam. He said he hoped it would bring me inspiration.

I ran my hands over the majestic desk and felt like a pianist who has forgotten how to play.

The writer, it turns out, wasn’t the nicest person. If I had once believed that all creative people were kind, I know better now. I also know better the limits of my own kindness.

The writer lied. About the condition of the house. About having paid for the new roof. About having lived in the house at all. (She’d evicted her tenants—a woman and her elderly father—just before we met her.) The writer fled to the West Coast and demanded more money. Although we were, in accordance with the sale contract, already living in the house, she threatened to renege on closing the sale.

What a lovely desk. What a horrid woman. I tossed our copies of her books out into the rain. Adam rescued the books and tried to hide them from me. We quarreled. I stalked off to the garage.

I found in the garage a box that didn’t belong to us. The box was marked “PRIVATE.” “To be burned in the event of my death,” it said. An upstanding person would have restored the box to its rightful owner. And that, my friends, is exactly what I did.

But first I took the box to Kinko’s. And I photocopied each and every page.

Sitting at the writer's desk, I found my tongue felt mute and dry. I buried the desk in the xeroxed pages—one of which, I hoped, would hold a cure.


At 4:24 PM, Blogger meg said...

Tell us more, tell us more!

(Why do I feel like you're grandpa and I'm the sick kid in *The Princess Bride*?)

At 5:14 PM, Blogger Manorama said...

Ahh! I want to know what happens! (Very much identifying with Meg's Princess Bride kid reference here.)

At 6:21 PM, Blogger Benedict said...

Do I finally get to use the line:
"Everything was fine - until that writer came to town!"


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