J.D. Hosemann ~ Equipment

Shiny things hung from the young man’s belt­loops, most notice­ably a sil­ver tape mea­sure, which he stretched between my door­ways. I love these coun­try homes, he said.

Walter laid the brick him­self, I announced. Walter cared for the lawn all those years, too. Paid off the home just three months before he died. I said all of this to excuse the Christmas dec­o­ra­tions bleached by the August sun, the peel­ing linoleum, the brown water spots in the ceil­ing, the stain-dap­pled car­pet.

Keys jin­gled from his hips as the young man stomped through the house, the floors shak­ing beneath his boots. I tried to fol­low but couldn’t keep up while hold­ing onto coun­ter­tops and door­frames. I pro­ceed­ed with my usu­al shuf­fle, only this time tak­ing notice of the coun­ter­tops, which seemed sud­den­ly clut­tered. So many cards with unfa­mil­iar sig­na­tures, a jar of pick­les, tiny papers, an ear­ring. Who made this mess?

Lots of mem­o­ries here, the young man yelled from the back of the house, appar­ent­ly look­ing at a fad­ed snap­shot of a child now grown, or per­haps Walter’s dusty, yel­lowed fish, which he had mount­ed all those years ago. Oh yes, I said. My boys.

The man was hand­some, more hand­some than Walter, but with less integri­ty, less sol­id. I could hear the met­al clang of equip­ment assem­bly.

I still had all of Walter’s equip­ment from those ter­ri­ble last days, but they insist­ed I have my own. The works. Full elec­tric every­thing. Scooters and reclin­ers, auto­mat­ic beds, ele­vat­ed toi­let seats, show­er chairs and grab bars. Everything remote-con­trolled to help get me upright and around with ease.

The young man need­ed the papers in the truck. He returned smelling like heat and grass, damp with sweat from all his labor. He held the clip­board for me and direct­ed my pen say­ing sign here, and here, and here. My hand wrote in child’s cur­sive, which is all it remem­bers. The young man said, Perfect—Beautiful—That’ll do—after each sig­na­ture.

The box­es belong to my chil­dren, I said to the young man. The boys are stor­ing their stuff here tem­porar­i­ly, I explained.

The man smiled and said some­thing about how coun­try homes are so love­ly, but I couldn’t hear him over the sound of the bro­ken back door, which snapped open after he strug­gled with it. A small piece of wood fell to the ground and he pre­tend­ed not to notice. My boys are going to fix that door this week­end, I said. Thank you, I said.

Thank you, Mrs. Yancey! the young man yelled over his shoul­der before he hopped into the truck. Thick air pushed me back inside and I shut the door to keep the cool air in. The win­dow unit rat­tled itself and began blow­ing.

Back in the liv­ing room, my new equip­ment looked no dif­fer­ent from what Walter left behind. Our remote-con­trolled reclin­ers sat side by side now, mine brand new and his hard­ly used. I low­ered myself into the chair and held the remote. I pressed the down arrow and the chair leaned back with a mechan­i­cal churn­ing sound. From this reclined posi­tion, I saw the bot­tom of the win­dowsill, from which a piece of sil­ver tin­sel dan­gled. Christmas will be here before you know it, I said aloud.

~

J.D. Hosemann’s sto­ries are forth­com­ing in The Kenyon Review Online and The Hong Kong Review. He’s from Vicksburg, MS.