ofelia's castle

my eventual bloodless coup / by ofelia hunt >

don't slide the couches

I ask my mother about her peg-leg on my cell-phone while driving east on I-90. It is Thanksgiving. I am driving to my mother's house up in the Rockies. Snow is falling around my car and every other car on the freeway. There is ice, but I have chains secured tightly to my little hatchback's tires and my little hatchback's tires carefully grip the ice. The freeway turns left and right and up and down. The freeway hates me. I tell my mother how the freeway hates me. Then I ask her about her peg-leg again.

"It's because I got pregnant with you," she says, "and when I went to the hospital my foot got caught in a bear trap because I had to hike out of the mountains and my neighbors had to trap bears secretly, and also because we didn't have cars, and when my leg got caught in the bear trap, I still had to get to the hospital, and I screamed for maybe an hour, but nobody came to save me, so I gnawed my leg off and hopped through the snow and Doctor Bleeker delivered the baby after I convinced him that I wasn't a werewolf, and that's that."

I hang up my cell-phone. My mother has dementia, I think, or Alzheimer's, and now every time she tells a story, it involves a werewolf.

I continue driving through the snow. I think it must be very cold outside, and that if there were werewolves outside, they would be cold too, and the werewolves would slash my throat with their long claws and tear off my legs and use them for firewood and eat my torso and my head.

I lied. My mother doesn't have Alzheimer's or dementia. She did chew off her leg. It was in the Idaho Statesman. We clipped the picture from the newspaper and framed it, and on my birthday we sing what the article said instead of the 'Happy Birthday' song.

That's a lie too. The truth is, she's a liar. We're a family of liars. It's genetic. When I was a little girl, a psychologist name Willem Von Masterson traveled from Austria just to study us. He put us into a little white room in a little white castle on the edge of a cliff at the southwest corner of Idaho and videotaped us for three years. He taped electrodes to our foreheads and graphed things, and plotted three-dimensional super-graphs from these original graphs, and made us do calisthenics every day at five AM, even on Christmas. This was before we murdered Doctor Willem Von Masterson and spent ten years in prison as a family.

The snow stops and I arrive at my mother's house at the top of the Rockies. My mother's house is an apartment building. The apartment building is made from concrete blocks and is thirty-five stories high. My mother lives on the top floor, in the penthouse. There is no elevator so I walk up the stairs. I think about teleportation. There should be teleportation. Maybe Von Masterson would have discovered teleportation if we hadn't murdered him. We murdered him with knitting needles. This is messier than it sounds.

I open the door and step into my mother's penthouse. She has three full-sized couches, one suede, one leather, and one fabric. I dive onto the leather couch and the leather couch slides a little and my mother yells, "Don't slide the couches."

"Sorry," I say. I'm not sorry. This is a penthouse with three couches. "If I were a werewolf you'd let me slide the couches."

My mother doesn't say anything. Her dementia is so debilitating that she can only talk when she's on her cell-phone. I take my cell-phone from my purse, choose my mother's name on the address book, and call her. Her ring-tone sounds like the Brady Bunch theme-song, except I'm not sure if the Brady Bunch had a theme-song.

She answers her cell-phone, "Hello?"

I say, "If I were a werewolf you'd let me slide the couches."

"You're a liar," she says, and hangs up.

I walk into the kitchen. My mother is preparing mashed-potatoes. Outside the window it is snowing again. I think that this snow should probably symbolize death which means my mother or I should probably die soon, on Thanksgiving, both of us, in a fatal turkey fire, because it would make a better story in the Idaho Statesman.

I tell my mother about the fatal turkey fire.

I wonder if it is snowing outside the other window and I walk into the bedroom and look out the window and it is snowing and it still symbolizes death. My sister is not coming to Thanksgiving. She is probably robbing a bank right now, with her boyfriend, in Pennsylvania. I would call her on my cell-phone and tell her to come to Thanksgiving but it would only ruin her robbery and she would be caught and spend another ten years in jail. It is snowing outside both windows and my mother is in the kitchen. I pull my cell-phone from my pocket and look at it in my open hand. My cell-phone can open up like a mouth and has many buttons. I open the cell-phone address book and choose my mother's name and call her.

She answers her cell-phone, "Hello?"

I say, "The snow out the window symbolizes death and this should make us happy for Thanksgiving. There won't be a turkey fire and my sister won't come to dinner, or something. After dinner we can watch television all night." I hang up my cell-phone and walk into the living room and slowly sit on the leather couch and turn on the television and lean back and look at the ceiling, which is white and bumpy and like the snow outside, and I think about driving my little hatchback on the icy freeway or watching television in my little apartment by myself.