M: In My Room
In My Room
The invitation came by e-mail this year. In past years they came as
photocopied letters. It didn't really matter; Porter was not interested
in attending high school reunions. He rose from his pressed wood desk
and went into the bedroom of the four-room apartment.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, his right foot tapped the burnt orange
carpet, his left hand opened and closed in an irregular rhythm. Then
rising, he opened the closet and looked in a pile of books pushed
behind the hanging clothes. There was his 1964 Yearbook. While Porter
made little happy faces in the dust on the cover, he summoned the
courage to open the book to a single dog-eared page.
The photo was his clearest memory of high school. Running down the hall
with jocks chasing him. His stomach churned, but time has worked its
magic on his interpretation of history. He quietly laughed at his
'friends' playing pranks on him. A single drop of sweat fell onto the
page, and he watched the spot turn from ecru to muddy brown.
In Porter's ears, the words of his mother rang loud: Why don't you have
any friends? I'll bet you're as big a pest at school as you are at
home, you stupid little boy!
He closed the yearbook, replaced it in the closet, and left the room.
He sat at the red dinette table, thinking. The square patio outside the
dirty sliding doors gave him an idea. This time he laughed out loud.
What fun. Throw his own party! Lemonade. Fruitcake. And, well, he could
look up on the internet the type of things he could serve. What a great
idea; he was sure of it. His friends would come from all parts to
The next few weeks were drudgery for Porter. He had not heard back from
the five invitees to his reunion party. He knew they would come. He
would prepare for them. Maybe even a few extra treats since some of
them are bound to bring spouses, or children. Porter felt
Porter took the Friday preceding the party off. He found the old card
table in the garage, and the four folding chairs. He set that up on the
tiny patio first. Then put a large plastic jug of lemonade on it and a
stack of Dixie Cups next to it.
What pretty little flowers on the cups.
Then his piece de resistance, the heaviest, thickest fruitcake he could
find. My God! How proud he was. And a stack of small paper plates with
plastic forks and a single plastic knife.
The time arrived for the party to commence. No one came. Porter checked
the telephone answering machine, but the red light was not blinking. He
had placed an old record player on the table with the lemonade earlier.
He placed an old 45-RPM record on it after fumbling with the little
plastic piece in the middle, and turned the volume up high.
Porter's face went slack.
He wanted, no, he needed this party. He decided to ask his mother to
come. He turned and entered the apartment and walked back to his
bedroom. Opening the closet he violently brushed the clothes aside and
knocked the stack of books over. He grabbed his mother's shriveled body
and pulled it out by the ankle.
He dressed the body and then drug it, still pulling by the ankle, down
the hall into the living room. Porter wiped the drool from the corner
of his mouth and smiled.
This is my party. My party?my party.
He turned to his mother's distorted face and smiled.
"May I have this dance?" He asked sweetly.
"Thank you! But, mom, you'll have to stand, you know."
Porter let go of her ankle, then leaned over and jerked his mother
upright. Then he carried her out to the patio. He put one arm around
her waist, and took her hand in the other. He noticed that her eyes
were no longer that striking blue, in fact, he saw that she didn't have
any eyes at all. Rather looked like two tea cups with a small piece of
coal in the bottom.
He pulled her close, and hit the start button on the record player.
Porter and his mother swayed and twirled around the patio.
When the music started, it sounded like sizzling bacon. In the
background he could hear the Beach Boys singing:
"There's a place
where I can go, and
tell my secrets to?"