Ritual Confessions

January 24, 2008

The man under the house

Filed under: Uncategorized — elissakaren @ 6:37 am

[Entry from Tuesday the 22nd, transcribed]

I was standing in the driveway of the house my family would be moving into the next day. He hailed me from the driveway of the house next door, which was clearly under construction. A workman, well over 6 feet tall and a strapping fellow, with reddish-blond hair, a goatee, dusty clothes, work boots.

“Hey, are you moving in here? It’s a great house. I’m Jack,” he said, extending his hand. “I’m Walt’s cousin.” Walt was the house’s former owner.

I was waiting for a house painter who was lost. The night before, upon learning that he was unfamiliar with mapquest and its ilk, my husband had given him meticulous directions over the phone. Afterward, he’d reported that the guy sounded like he was missing a few marbles. I wasn’t confident that he would show up.

“Do you know any painters?” I asked after shaking his hand.

“I’m a painter,” he said. “What do you need painted?”

“Just one small room,” I told him. “But it has to be today. It’s my daughter’s room, and I want at least 24 hours in between having it painted and letting her sleep in it.”

“Okay,” Jack said. “Why don’t I do it on my lunch break?”

“It’ll take longer than a lunch break.”

“Well, I can finish it tonight if need be.”

“Really? Do you want to have a look at the room first?”

No need, he told me. He knew the room. He knew the house, he said, like it was his own. He’d do it for a hundred bucks.

This was an appealing proposition, as the other painter had wanted $150. Just as I began to hope our original man wouldn’t show up, his blue van pulled to the curb across the street.

“Just get rid of him,” Jack urged. “Tell him you changed your mind.”




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