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Great Grandpa Kern’s Desk
Writing in Harford County, Maryland: 6/28/2022
© 2022 James LaFond
DEC/21/22
I sleep on the couch in the sun room that used to be a deck on the west side.
The couch behind me on the south side is beneath a picture window that looks out on Mom’s bird feeder, where she is ever waiting for “The Cardinal” to come and beautify her window. I only sleep on that couch when I pass out drunk, then move to the older, cooler couch.
Mom, Theresa, Gene, they sleep upstairs.
I share the downstairs with the other, better looking dog, Zoe, the beautiful Collie, who used to try herding me when I shadow boxed, but now, in her graceful middle years, snorts at me like I’m behaving like an unseemly ape and ambles off to sit in majesty elsewhere, undisturbed by my antics.
Yesterday, when it thundered and poured, I was a useful comfort to the aging beauty.
My sister has girly dumbbells which I can actually use, as all of the dumbbells owned by the men I coach on the east coast are far too heavy for me to train with without injury.
The kitchen and pantry could feed a squad of Navy SEALs for a month—a real test of my Rick Power to avoid grazing and return to the ranks of The EATERS.
They keep real coffee on hand for me.
The tile, the hard wood floors, the various rugs, the wall paint, uber blinds, super blinds, super-dupper windows, nuclear-powered lamps, all of the good-gaws and girly antique shop finds of a lifetime dealing antiques, have made of Mom’s place something that The Queen could tolerate for tea and biscuits. Here is no hint that any man ever set foot in this beautiful 8-room floor. There is an entire living room that is never used for anything other than Mescaline Franklin crashing there when he comes to pick me up. There most be $10k of goo-gawry in there.
Gene, the slave of these two women, and my brother by marriage, leaves at 6 and returns at 6. The only personal space permitted him is in the palm of his hand, that smart phone.
Theresa, my sister, is actually the nicest woman I have ever met, ever. She is gone at 8 and back at 4. She insists on makings special keto food for me even though I’m fine with butter and salt.
As a couple, they are fine Christian folk who tolerate Theresa’s insane brother Jimmy with an amazed zoological humor.
Mom, is away right now, at water aerobics. There is also physical therapy, bingo, pickle ball, cornhole, senior club, where the weekly role call is reduced on a regular, like The 300 counting how many are left after every Persian attack. Oh yes, there is drag racing with “the snobby old bitches in Belair,” as Mom zooms ahead in her red sports car.
It’s a matriarchy our here, a node of the Great Anglo Mother Nest, where these gay fucking flowers on Great Grandpa’s desk droop over the lap top screen to clog my wrecked nose with polen—flowers everywhere, like a convention of queers have tried to remake the Garden of Eden into something with no fruit-bearing tree. The center piece of the nest is The Tree of Good and Evil: the TV. This is something that my family has worshipped since before I was born, a habit of Mom’s parents, to gather around the Oracle of Man-is-God and imbibe holiness.
That noise will not commence until Mom is home, leaving the silent serene morning for this old ape to work and write. When she returns, I’ll crank out something meaningless while the soap operas come on line, then something worse when the news hits the body count redemption stride.
When Theresa comes home I’ll close up the laptop and we will visit. When Gene gets here: its on, the 500 Rummy rivalry between we three as Theresa cooks. Tonight I will go meet Doctor Dread for dinner at the local eatery, an easy walk.
But for now, I am blessed with silence—other than the constant loud ringing in my head—and this desk, Great Grandpa Fred Kern’s desk. He was a pre-TV man, a man who survived the Baltimore Fire of 1904 and had the misfortune to bury 4 wives and two sons—both of them. I’ll never forget his tears. In 1982, my oldest son, my wife and me were the last to see him alive, as he joyed in playing paper airplanes with the 7-seven-year-old tyke in his apartment. He seems to have passed a few hours after we left.
He was a precision Kraut, his parents Rhinelanders who immigrated to Baltimore in 1877. He had few possessions and they were all of useful quality.
This desk is three feet high and three feet wide, two feet in depth. It is a dark stained hardwood with a close grain. The top is over laid with a quarter-inch thick glass panel.
The desk legs are straight tapering square pegs under the corners.
There are three drawers an inch above my thighs, with writing materials.
On the desk is an antique lamp, where I hang my eye patch, a noxious girly plant, a stack of bird watching books, a chestnut stained wooden statue of Mother Mary, when she was still hot, before God knocked her up, a leather binocular case, I suppose for watching birds, which will come in handy for tracking Bantu Impi movements after that low income housing goes up a mile down the road, and another noxious girly plant in glass vase which burns my eyes.
Next to the table is a globe, a Replogle 16 inch Diameter Globe World Classic Series which spins on a dark stained wooden axis:
There is no Soviet Union, but Russia, a post Cold War globe, I think, done in beautiful style with braille mountains.
Ships of different sailing types are described in sketch and word: Vasco de Gama’s Sao Gabriel 1497-99, Cheng Ho, 1431-33, a Chinese junk, a Polynesian canoe A.D. 700, the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria in 1492.
This thing of wonder, I know not where it came from, my Uncle Fred, perhaps, whence this stuff came... But it speaks of the silence and thought I share while writing with Great Grandpa, a spinning wonder that at times serves to distract the wandering evening mind from the blaring banality of the TV.
Behind it. In the corner, is a wrought iron display shelf with a picnic basket and family pictures. Beneath it, on the floor, is an old back pack and a pair of blue jeans strung with knives and filled with a summer’s cash, reminding me that I leave for the city in 20 hours and for the west in five weeks… and off my left shoulder, on the end table next to the picture window and the leather couch, looms some other monstrous plant, green vining leaves and purple flowers that burn the left eye, reminding this writer that this can only be a visit, that the Nest is not for him.
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