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A Place for Grandpa-Fiction by Paul Smith
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placeforgrandpa.jpg
Art by M. R. Sonntag 2018

A Place for Grandpa

Paul Smith

 

A garage is a good place for lots of things – ladders, lawnmowers, rakes, hedge trimmers, cans of paint, even cars. Early in a marriage a man can find comfort in the garage fixing things up, making them better, killing time, storing things. A man has certain needs, to build, to create, to maintain, to justify his own existence by doing something, even if it’s just looking busy. As the marriage blossoms, there are gifts. There is love, which is a gift. There are children, which can be considered gifts. There is romance. There is silence in which a man can ponder the wonders of life, its mysteries, its subtle ironies. There are gifts on special days like the wedding anniversary, Mother’s Day, Her Birthday, any day she deems it necessary that a gift be purchased. And a garage can be a serviceable place to ‘store’ the gift on its journey from a department store to the car to her loving hands, her wrist or neck. Hence it can function like a ‘transfer station’ she is never aware of. Later in the matrimony both parties may discover that slyness and subterfuge serve their interests best when doing things the other party needn’t know about. For example, buying a booster seat for a visiting grandchild evolves from the simple task of shopping to a chess game of ‘who hid the booster seat’ if certain events converge

‘Certain events’ may include the fact that their son specified what kind of booster seat was to be bought. They may include that the grandson’s dad’s dad knows that if he buys what his son has specified, the grandson’s son’s mom (grandma) will angrily claim the grandson’s dad’s dad (grandpa) is cheap and should buy a much more expensive booster seat. But he may ignore this bit of intuition and buy the cheap one anyway. Since she is right (always) about the penury of her spouse, he (the grandson’s dad’s dad) may resort to trickery, the kind of trickery that may even evolve to the hiding and disposal of a body, though not yet. Realizing all this, grandpa may slyly conclude he should get the right booster seat and swap it out for the wrong one he hastily purchased, far from grandma’s prying eyes. He does this in the garage. And having done this successfully, grandpa has now established the fact that the garage is quite useful as a transfer station for anything he desires to transfer, including the aforementioned body.

Accidents do happen. That is another fact just as certain as a garage functioning as a transfer station. Accidents cause death. That is also an established fact. Gary Ashbrook died of asphyxiation in a humongous condom after pulling it over his head and filling it with nitrous oxide. Diana Durre died in Nebraska when a giant taco Bell sign fell on her pickup truck, crushing her. Rebecca Metzger died after a pressurized canister of whipped cream struck her in the chest. Hammers rarely kill people by accident. Puneet Kaur died in the Indian state of Haryana at an amusement park after her hair became tangled in the wheels of a go-kart.  Jimmy Ferrozzo, a bouncer, died at the Condor Club in San Francisco while engaging in sexual intercourse with his girlfriend Theresa Hill on a grand piano that was lowered from the ceiling by a hydraulic motor, accidentally activating the lifting mechanism which pinned him against the ceiling leading to his suffocation. Jeremy Brenno was killed on a golf course when, frustrated, he struck a bench with a 3-wood golf club. The shaft broke, bounced back at him, and pierced his heart. Again, no hammers.

When a man builds his own garage, he normally builds it to his own specifications. If his previous garage had a little light above the shelves near the store-room, he will want the same for his new garage. Or if his old garage didn’t have such a light, he will bemoan its absence and make sure he has it in his new one. ‘Let there be light!’ his argument will go. And he will take pride in using this handy device every time he needs to go to the shelf or the storeroom to store or retrieve a tool, a gift, a hammer or to drop off a body.

If, however, an altercation arises in the matrimony where there is no malice  aforethought or premeditated attempt to maim or dismember, solely the convergence of the vectors of surprise and shock, and a hammer is present, a death may occur that could be considered accidental by one group of twelve or murder by another. At which point the garage may be a handy place to store a body, grandma’s body, until the police leave because, yes, they are coming. Grandma has just called them because grandpa has raised his voice at her quarrelsomeness and chatter regarding a booster seat, and grandpa hears the sirens. So with utmost haste, and strength generated by the necessity of the moment, grandpa may hurriedly rush grandma’s dead form out to the garage, say hi to the neighbors barbecuing next door and stash her in the storeroom till the fuzz leave, spin a yarn to them about how grandma took a powder after calling them on grandpa, and should be back soon—maybe in a week or so.

And in these matters grandpa has proved to be quite nave. Not that the neighbors squealed on grandpa—they didn’t care much for grandma with her noise and chat either. Not that the police thought about waiting around a week or so for grandma to show up. What did grandpa in was the little light he was so proud of near the shelves and the storeroom. When the police came and asked where grandma might be and grand-dad shrugged they got curious and said ‘Do you mind if we look around? She might be hiding.’ And in the course of that, they might see a faint glow in the evening emanating from the garage and say something further like ‘Been in your garage lately?’ which, of course, drew a negative response from grandpa, which they expected. Then a visit to the garage turned up grandma with a hammer still in her skull and to an arrest, a conviction and a trip to a chair with a light over it which reminded grandpa of his garage. We all visited him on his last, wished him well in the dim basement of a building that served as a transfer station for souls from this world to the next, and wept our eyes out as that tiny light suddenly exploded with incandescence and grandpa’s light went out for good.

As for the booster seat, my ass never fit in it correctly. If grandpa had simply listened to that little voice in his head that told him he should listen to grandma’s voice all this never would have happened. Now, with grandma and grandpa gone, dad has the house and the garage and the booster seat, which now has a new little keister in it since dad acquired grandpa’s habit of storing gifts in there on their way to mom. And mom rewarded dad for this nice hammerless house and bountiful garage with something that arrived in nine months. But I don’t really like my baby brother. One of these days I’ll take him out back and show him another one of grandpa’s hammers.





Paul Smith writes poetry & fiction. He lives in Skokie, Illinois with his wife Flavia. Sometimes he performs poetry at an open mic in Chicago. He believes that brevity is the soul of something he read about once, and whatever that something is or was, it should be cut in half immediately.



In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2018