LISTING by Michael Todd Cohen

MARBLEHEAD, MA — ESTATE SALE BY YOUNGEST SON 4 bedroom / 4.5 bath with 5,679 sq ft. of ample space for nuclear family on .26 acres.

Below listed are the items for sale and a description of the property. Not listed but offered for the specific buyer: being told as a child you would be disowned if gay.

BASEMENT Offered in sale: workbench at which father and youngest son built miniature soapbox derby car for Cub Scout competition. Mostly father—who hip-checked son saying,

“watch out, watch out,” as his hulky frame jostled miniature car parts into a sleek red bullet. Son did not win derby. A warm, enveloping hug was given as compensation along with the statement: “They cheated. This is bullshit. I saw the guy squeeze the wheels before he put ours on the track.”

LIVING ROOM The ground floor affords a large living room with tile floor in good condition despite the dog’s old-age accidents which could not be prevented because the slight-voiced mother couldn’t yell without coughing. Honestly, it was for naught with a deaf dog.

Offered in sale: a 47” television cabinet. We regret we can’t offer a larger television, but the mother cried when the father brought home a 50” to watch golf on because it “overwhelmed the space.”

Additionally offered in sale: a well-loved reclining chair swathed in striped fabric to be deodorized, prior to sale, of what the father referred to as medication-induced “chemical farts.”

DINING ROOM An open plan allows for a sizable dining table next to the kitchen. This is not offered as part of the sale, but it is not hard to find a dining table to fight around. 

Offered in sale: double-sided fireplace with slate ledge. Ledge has some wear from mother standing on it to reach father’s lips for a kiss—silent and sweet—while youngest son looked on and wondered what boy he would kiss on a ledge or a stoop or a doorstep one day and what would happen when he did.

FAMILY ROOM Offered in sale: a Bose sound system and a sun-bleached blue couch where the father lay in semi-darkness listening to Enya after returning from chemo sessions in Boston.

KITCHEN Boasting an abundance of natural light, the kitchen offers overhead and under-counter cabinet space containing a red pitcher, drinking glass and bag of rice that the mother used to teach the youngest son how to pour neatly from one vessel into another, her hand over his in gentle guidance.

Offered in sale: a double-door refrigerator with room for two shopping bags filled with live lobsters that the father often lay onto the cold floor tile in a mock “race” despite youngest son’s whinnies of fearful protest.

You will hear the ice dispenser on the fridge churning from time-to-time, like when the youngest son came down to the living room in the middle of the night for lack of sleep and saw his dead father on the television guffawing in the audience of a comedy festival he attended the year before. It was Father’s Day. God has a bizarre sense of occasion.

BEDROOMS Up three easy steps are four bedrooms of good size, including a primary suite. 

Off the hallway is a small office, formerly “maintained” by the mother, with tax papers and medical bills exploding outward like a burst whitehead. Papers to be removed prior to sale.

To the left is a bedroom with an orange shag carpet and an en suite bathroom including shower stall. Offered in sale: a full-length mirror with some smudging from where the youngest son mashed his face into it, stared himself in his own eyes, and said, “I’m gay.”

Also included: a laptop with a start-up screen featuring a picture of actor Chris O’Donnell, a twin-size bed with salvageable springs that weren’t put to the test with much more than sweaty solo action while thinking about actor Chris O’Donnell, and a small sound system with CD tray and radio used to drown out the father’s intermittent vomiting in the primary bedroom.

DRIVEWAY Asphalt in good condition with minimal wear from garage sales, car washes, a Bar-Mitzvah party and the night the youngest son confessed his truth to the oldest brother and stopped there, forgoing his own peace of mind for peace in the moments he had left with the father. 

Offered in sale: repeating he knew anyway in your head as a salve.

GARAGE Space for two vehicles, including champagne colored 1997 Chevy Blazer offered in sale. Blazer is in good condition with 38,000 miles from youngest son driving away regret: Essex antique shops, Danvers strip malls and the Marblehead Lighthouse, staring into a roiling sea. There are minor grip marks on the steering wheel from where he bore down; knowing a thing and trying to unknow it.

PRIMARY BEDROOM Cavernous space with a glamorous oversized wood-paneled walk-in closet.

Offered in sale: the father’s clothes that hang like meat in a butcher’s freezer—stiff and gruesome.

Not included in sale: a California king size bed that the mother will take with her to the house in Swampscott so she can sleep in the same divot she’s made over thirty years and sometimes run her hand over the one he made too; like an incantation to bring him back.


Michael Todd Cohen (@mtoddcohen) is a writer and producer living in New York. Work appears or is forthcoming in Stone of Madness Press, The Daily Drunk Mag, and Barren Magazine.
 

Art by Bob Schofield @anothertower

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