Sunday, October 27, 2002

It's Help Your Elderly Neighbor Pull Her Husband's Head From Inside The Oven Before The Ambulance Arrives So She Can Try To Keep His Suicide A Secret From Her Children Sunday!

Remember "Help The Aged Widow In The Apartment Downstairs With Her Groceries Thursday"? This is kind of like that one, in that it's another old lady making you get off the fucking couch. Except when you're through with this one you might be so bewildered by the sudden turn your day has taken that you'll develop a drinking problem and disappear for a while.

So, naturally, the elderly neighbor in question speaks very little English so in the last seven years of you two sharing an apartment building, your conversation has consisted of bright smiles and nods and the occasional wave hello from the sidewalk. The husband you never ackowledged. He always walked with his eyes to the ground.

When you open your door, her face will be gray as ashes. When she looks up at you, you'll feel like you both always knew she would one day have to ask you for your help in this matter. You won't know what's happened as yet, but you'll nod in assurance that you're not gonna fuck this up. She'll turn her back to you and you won't see her eyes again until her husband is lying on her living room floor, where he will appear to have fallen, quite peacefully and readily, to his death.

You'll follow her into her apartment and the lifetime of photographs and decoration on the walls will be so dense that when you arrive in the kitchen you won't even realize what you're supposed to be looking at until you look at the ground and you see the soles of a man's shoes.

Your first thought will be a memory of when you were in a high school English class and you finally found out that when people put their heads in ovens, they mean to die from the gas inhalation, and not by baking the flesh from their skulls. The air will be thick with gas and you'll first check that a window has been opened and the gas has been turned off, then you'll pick up the phone and begin to dial 911. Your freshly widowed neighbor's hand will press down on the cradle of the phone and disconnect you. Then she will get her arm underneath her husband's left shoulder and begin to pull. You'll understand, then, and you'll get your arm underneath his right shoulder and you'll heft him up from the oven rack, unfortunately giving his head a crack upon the roof of the oven which neither of you will acknowledge. Another tug and you'll note how thick his brown cardigan is, probably warmer than your down winter jacket. Before the next heft, you'll place your hand on her shoulder and she'll leave you to it. You'll get him by both shoulders and slowly pull his torso from atop the open oven door. You'll be as gentle and as graceful as if you feared his limbs might rip from his body should the stride of a tug be broken.

You'll lay him out on the kitchen floor, on his back. The look on his face will not be a sad one. You'll try to find sadness there, but the closest you'll come to discerning an expression on his face will be the vague squint to his eyes. You'll look up at the doorway in time to see your neighbor walk into the living room. You'll get your grip under the shoulders and you'll drag her husband to her.

In the living room, you'll lay him out beside a curio. You'll feel terrible when you do it, but you'll lift one arm up over his head and leave the other by his side because that's what chalk outlines always look like on television. Your neighbor will open one door of the curio and slap a shelf of trinkets and children's photographs to the floor, falling atop her husband. She won't be angry. She'll be painting the picture she'd like a policeman to see. Feeling clever, you'll remove anything that fell atop his body and you'll roll him over a bit so you can put some of the trinkets under his back on the assumption that if he fell there by the curio, the items he grabbed and slapped at might reach the floor before him. Later, you'll wonder if this was a correct assumption.

You'll both stand above him. You'll look over at your neighbor and at first you'll think she's looking at her husband in mourning. Then she'll bend over to move a small porcelain figurine of a puppy closer to his outstretched hand. Then she'll look up at you and show you her eyes. They'll ask for your approval. You'll nod. She'll return your nod and go into the kitchen where she'll pick up a newspaper from the kitchen table and begin fanning the air out the window.

When you return to your apartment, you'll light a cigarette and stand by your window. You'll have a secret that you're going to keep from a family you're never going to meet. You'll stand staring out your window for the hour it takes an ambulance to pull up outside your front door. Then you'll go into your bedroom and lay down for a while.

Happy Help Your Elderly Neighbor Pull Her Husband's Head From Inside The Oven Before The Ambulance Arrives So She Can Try To Keep His Suicide A Secret From Her Children Sunday.