I knew a man who owned 150 items. One hundred of them were books. He was extremely specific about this number. Two plates, two bowls, one pot, one pan. One squeeze bottle of liquid soap he used for the counters, the clothes, his remaining hair. One Bobby Goldsboro record, but no turntable. He said one of the songs, Honey, had always moved him.
When his dog passed away, he replaced it. A plant; why didn’t I say plant? Although it is true about his dog.
I had the idea he was spiritual and wise. He was old. His sparseness was a turn-on. And the red rug on the floor beside his bed, so pleasing. I pleased him when I knelt on it. His framed, black-inked Eye of Horus lent the place a tang of the mystic.
It lasted seven weeks. One evening, I thought I’d pitch in and empty the garbage. He was out, walking the replacement dog. The bag was surprisingly full. I clocked the contents: the detritus of fast food wolfed when I was at work, eight squishy condoms (curtsy), and much-thumbed porn mag feat…
She sat on her sofa and listened patiently right up to the point when her Dad asked her to come home. She ended the call.
To go home would be to laugh together at terrible TV and lose together against quiz-show teams. They could direct all their anger at politicians ignoring interview questions. Dad would make her a cup of tea. She could cook him something she really fancied and he would eat it all and thank her and not mind the number of pans she’d used. And even wash them up. She didn’t move from the sofa.
Dad might not have asked her back if she hadn’t told him about the doctor. But Doctor Roberts sighed too much, too loudly, and she couldn’t keep that to herself. She’d gone to see him because she felt something had slipped in her mind, tipped certainty to mistake’s side of their usual divide in her thoughts. The two were becoming interchangeable. But apparently she didn’t need a counsellor. Nor antidepressants. She just needed to relax. Did she have any hobbies? When she’d tried a…