Sunday, May 07, 2006

another katie story

Katie thought I was the greatest. Her brother, also a Russian-doctor-turned-lab-rat, thought I was great too. Katie lived at the end of Portland Street in Medford and I was homeless, pretty much. I had lived out my welcome at Renee's house, good old Renee, Renee who didn't even see me coming. It took me, oh, 25 years to pay her back, but that's another story for another time. Anyway, I needed a place to live, and as luck would have it, Katie had a house she didn't need. She told me I could live in it. "Aiee dunt ci vhy naat," she said. That's what she sounded like. Her brother thought I should be rewarded for my good deeds as a caregiver and they thought it would be a good idea for the house not to stand empty while Katie was in the nursing home. They thought it would keep out "de badt paypl."

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I'm the bad people. And in so many ways you are right. But that's not the point of this story.

So the brother, we'll call him Ivan, takes me over there to check out the house. It sat at the end of a quiet street with two huge cedar trees in the front yard. Centinels. Ivan tells me its furnished. Good, I think. I need stuff. What he didn't tell me is that it is furnished with priceless Russian antiques. "Are you going to leave all of this?" I ask. "Aiee dunt ci vhy naat," he answers. I could think of a million reasons why not. I hadn't the foresight to count my brother Doug among those reasons.

I know I haven't talked much about my broher Doug. Ever, really. He's my eldest brother, the only one still standing, and his drinking problem was one of revolutionary proportion.

So, when I found out about my new house deal, of course I wanted to share my good fortune with my family. They'd be glad because I didn't have to sleep on the couch anymore. Doug was especially supportive. He thought it was great. He asked where it was. The part I forgot to mention -- to Doug-- is that the deal wasn't quite done. I wasn't to move in for a couple more days.

I pulled into work the next day, happy to be 22, happy to have a place to live. When I got to Katie's room, Ivan was tapping the toes of his Russian shoes, looking at the floor. "Der vas a man in de haus."

I was horrified. A MAN? In MY HOUSE? "Oh, no!" I exclaimed in utter disbelief. "That is terrible!"

Well, as the truth descended on me like Russian shade, I realized de man was de brudder. Sacked out on the priceless sofa, drunk as a dog.

So much for the freebie house. But then, that was just one in a long line of near misses. For me and for Doug. I may still be mad at him.

Soon after, I began having what I call "the moving dream." Its a recurrent dream where I have agreed to give up the place I live and rent a different house. It is perfect and full of priceless antiques. It seems too good to be true. As I move from room to room, however, it seems as though something is wrong. The rooms run into one another like one unfinished room with half-walls and suddenly the ceilings are too low and it is dark and I notice things like an old hairbrush and a silver mirror: things that belong to old women. And I realize I've rented a house that is already occupied and when I get to the last room, there is an old woman in a rocking chair wearing red long-johns.

Any dream interpreter would tell you I fear death, that the old woman is my crone, but I know better. It's just Katie.


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L. said...

it's just so strange we keep having the same house dream, even though no old woman is in mine.

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