Fifty-five years of job reversals and mortgage payments all come down to this: a slow trickle of bargain hunters with their Penny-Savers, picking through a houseful of used furniture priced to move, each piece tagged with a little red sticker like a drop of blood with numbers penciled in, the fours like little sailboats, the sevens with slashes through them like they taught him in school: Dad’s last move, a sad milestone for us both. He wouldn’t let me hire a service or do the job myself. I woke this morning from a dream of Dad spinning down a runway with a walker, doffing his toupee and modeling his old suits. The stickers are ridiculous; he should be getting twice as much even after an agent, but he wouldn’t hear reason. This new couple seems sympathetic, or the wife does, better than most. She’s gone to look at bedroom furniture while her husband stands, neck broken, scanning the titles in the bookcase. She doesn’t know what to say to Dad so she simply lets him talk. He’s telling her the story of the bedroom suit, that’s what they called them when he and Mom were kids starting out, and then the story of how she twisted her ankle when they were lugging it into the only house they ever owned. When he stops mid-sentence and can’t go on, she nods in understanding and touches his arm. She has some cash in hand and starts peeling off bill after bill. I don’t think she’s counting. She calls to her husband to bring the truck, then wipes her cheek and sighs and starts removing the drawers. I watch Dad’s face to see if he’s all right. He catches my eye and winks, and fans his face with a handful of hundreds.

Copyright © March 1, 2007 David Hodges