Tuesday, July 17, 2012

They Throw Away Desks, Don’t They?

First she threw out the desk where her boyfriend used to sit and work.

In order to drag the desk to the alley by herself she pulled out all the drawers and threw them away. Without the drawers the desk was easy to drag along the floor. When she dragged the desk down the three concrete steps to the back yard one of the desk legs cracked away from the desk but remained stuck to the desktop. The desk then flopped over and scraped along the sidewalk with one leg sticking out to the side.

She smiled looking at the broken desk leg. She remembered that one of her boyfriend’s favorite books was an old novel by Horace McCoy called, “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” and the central metaphor of the book had been that when a horse breaks a leg it used to be standard practice simply to shoot the horse rather than give it first aid and the story of the novel was about a depressed woman who eventually asks her boyfriend to shoot her because she just can’t get her life together.

She dragged the desk with the broken leg into the alley and shoved it next to the pile of desk drawers.

Looking at the wreckage of the desk with the broken leg, she made a pretend gun by extending her index finger and raising her thumb. She pointed at the desk and said, “Bang! Bang! Bang!” Then she smiled and lifted her index finger to her lips and blew a puff of air at her fingertip as if she was blowing away smoke from a gun barrel.

After she threw out the desk where her boyfriend used to sit and work she vacuumed the rug. Then she stepped back and studied the wall by the corner there next to the south window. Outside through the window, past the back yard, next to the garage she could just see the edge of the pile of desk drawers in the alley.

She looked at the space there by the wall. “I could put a bookcase there,” she thought. “Or a little table with a plant. Or a floor lamp.”

She smiled, thinking, “Or I could put nothing at all there.”

For some reason that made her laugh.

“I’m going to put nothing at all there,” she said, out loud. And she laughed again.

First she threw out the desk. Then she vacuumed. Then she didn’t do anything at all.

Well, she did laugh a little.

She laughed more when she was telling him what happened to the desk.

She made a special point of describing the Horace McCoy part and hung up before he had the chance to say anything.

All he could think of was that the desk was dead and that she never even had heard of Horace McCoy before they started going out.

He blamed himself. But he thought, too, that she would be thinking that he would blame himself and that just would make her laugh harder.

A woman laughing. The wreckage of a dead desk.

And he thought, too, “I am not going to write about this. That really would make her laugh harder.”

The wreckage of a dead desk. A man writing.

A woman laughing.

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“They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” at Wikipedia

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