Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Dispatching of Larry

From the moment we put him in the basement, we knew he was doomed. He had served his purpose, had been moved from one house to the next, from the care of one person, and then a couple, and finally, to us.

We made use of him, when we first moved into our house, treated him like a piece of furniture, joked about him, gave him a nickname, for his outdatedness and for his air of tackiness. His nickname came to us, passed on by friends, and it stuck with us, even as we relegated him to the basement.

Larry. As in, Leisure Suit Larry. That cheesy character from that 90s computer game suited our Larry well. The fabric he wore would never attract a woman: black velour, with a scribbled print of pastel green and pink. He was over-sized, sporting far too much padding.

Even as we welcomed him into our new house, we were repulsed by his appearance. But he had his uses and we knew that as soon as we could find a replacement, he would be gone.

We didn't throw him out on the curb when we found a suitable, permanent replacement. Larry might serve some use to us, eventually. And so, to the basement he went.

It wasn't an easy task. Larry wasn't willing to go easily or quietly. It took three of us to coax him down the stairs. Negotiating him around the corner caused a lot of groaning and sweat. Larry resisted, hitting against the walls the whole way down. If not for his extra padding, his soft velour, he would have made marks in the drywall.

And that would have made me upset, would have made me want to end him, right there and then.

Once in his spot in the cellar, I said that Larry wouldn't be coming back up the stairs the way he came down. Either he would spend the rest of his days rotting in this dungeon, or he would come up in pieces.

He was never used again, not by any family members. Edwin, the cat, would lie on him. The occasional mouse, taking shelter from winter's freeze, would burrow into him. On two occasions, when I was in the basement, searching for something or taking more junk to store, I saw Larry, covered in dust and cat hair, and discovered two dead mice, resting atop him, no doubt the unfortunate prey of Edwin. On his final day, when inspecting him closely and beginning the task of ridding our basement of him, I found Larry with a cache of grains of rice in his belly.

He had to go. He couldn't stay. I needed that space and Larry had overstayed his welcome. Larry wasn't going to remain in the basement till the end of time: he was coming back up.

In pieces.

A knife, to slit him open. A saw, for hacking at his difficult frame. A crowbar, for persuading difficult joints to come apart. I took no delight in the butchering, but I felt no grief in what had to be done. I felt nothing. I was cold and ruthless.

I broke his back. I hacked off his arms. I peeled off his coverings and skin, ripped out the padding.

Larry came out of the basement in four pieces: seven, if you counted his cushions, which lifted off easily. Into the garage he went, his final evening in the Brownfoot residence a cold one.

In the shadow of nightfall, the next evening, Larry was carried to the curb. The half moon dashed behind some light clouds, the brightness of Jupiter evident in the dark sky. Over him, garbage bags were thrown, as if to hide the evidence, though no amount of trash from our basement could conceal Larry. In the morning, he would be visible for all to see.

Larry, the dated, tacky sofa, was dead. He would never be sat upon again.

I regret nothing. Except for, perhaps, not taking him out years ago, before my friends and I exerted ourselves, carrying him needlessly into the basement.

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