The delivery men were waiting for their money. The bulky old washing machine, the recliner and the dark blue terry cloth bathrobe they’d found in storage – God knows where – had belonged to one of my grandparents. I wasn’t sure which. I didn’t care.
“You need to pay the $40 property tax that’s due on these,” one said. “They can’t stay where they were.”
“They can’t stay here, either,” I said. I told them I’d pay the tax – as a courtesy – but I had nowhere to keep what they’d brought. Everything would have to go back. Right away.
They glanced among themselves uncertainly. Strange. Was I their first refusal? Were they accustomed to delivering orphaned junk to people’s homes, getting whatever “tax” they demanded, and being merrily on their way?
When I picked up the bathrobe, the bottom seam fell open. A few pounds of purple potatoes, far gone, had been sewn into the robe’s lining. Emergency food? Ballast? The recliner was one of those for-the-disabled models that raises a person up to standing position. Cracked upholstery. Dirty. Garbage.
“I will not let you leave any of this here,” I said, suddenly very angry. “All of it has to go.”
But all of it had to stay.