Ernestina

Sep 29, 2021

2 min read

ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching

Book Two, Chapter Six: At My Place

Joshua has yet to visit my place.

Twice he approached my building’s front entrance but turned back. I know why — it’s too full of his daddy. But today, because the California Franchise Tax Board has requested proof of income from a previous year, and I have a copy of his tax return, we drive over.

I unlock my door, and Joshua crosses the threshold after me. He pauses at the bookshelves lining one wall of the living room and reaches to a top shelf for Ernie’s Minolta camera. Ernie used this camera in his reporting days. He took a photo of JFK with it.

Carefully, Joshua places the camera on a nearby table. Then he goes into the bedroom but immediately comes back out, crossing the living room to the kitchen.

I follow him.

“Don’t touch me,” he says. “I don’t want to be touched.”

I draw back as he straddles a chrome dinette chair. Writing a eulogy for Ernie’s memorial service, he sat in that chair, at that dinette table. Does he remember? He gets up to raise the kitchen window. He opens a cabinet for a mug, fills it with water. Yes, he remembers.

I find the tax return in the living room’s closet.

“Good. You knew where it was. I’ll go down the street to fax this information to California.”

He opens the door, and I watch him go down the hall to the stairs. Then I close the door, step into my bathroom, and turn on water for a bath. After spending the last several weeks with Joshua at my brother’s house — also my childhood home — I’m relieved to be back in my own place.