ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: The Writer, His Wife, and their Afterlife
Book One, Part Two, Chapter 173: First Day Back
We’re in the little red car. Joshua’s driving, headed to a pharmacy for medicine to help him sleep. He doesn’t like the Clonazepam .05 prescribed by the ER doctor. “I need something natural,” he says.
The pharmacist recommends melatonin. He buys it. We start back. Then he says: “Let’s do something fun for a change. Let’s look at Charles Street.”
He’s only seen photos of a house he’s agreed to pay over seventy thousand dollars for. We reach the street. “Don’t tell me which one it is,” he says. “I’ll spot it.”
The For Sale sign is still up. He parks across from it. On this gray day, the house looks quite plain. It is plain, a bungalow built in the 1920s, its wood covered with aluminum siding, its front door flanked by two plain sidelights. The only stick-out feature are its three fluted columns spanning a wide porch.
Joshua climbs the porch steps and peers through the door’s sidelights. “Old-fashioned, like Richie’s house before he added on to it,” he says.
He heads for the rear of the house, with me trailing.
“So that’s the garage,” he says.
He goes up to it, notes missing bricks, missing mortar, moss-covered bricks. We go inside the garage. More missing bricks, where a car crashed into the front wall.
“This is a small garage. No wonder the wall got hit.” He looks overhead, notes missing rafters. “It wouldn’t take much to bring this whole structure down. One good whack.”
I think: It wouldn’t take much to bring me down. One good whack.
He walks about the garage’s concrete floor. “This garage would make a good guesthouse. Put in a wood-burning stove, a small kitchen and bath. Or it could be an artist’s studio.”
He exits the garage to stand in the middle of the long back yard. “Not too private,” he says. “Neighbors on either side can see you.”
We head back to the car. This time, I’m leading. I look back at him. “Thinking about all this repair work makes my stomach churn,” I say.
“It could be worse. You looked at houses with missing floorboards, right?”
I think Joshua’s in better shape than I am. I think even the Charles Street house and garage are in better shape than I am. One good whack.