Author : T Anthony Allen

The off-world floor product salesman arrived while mom was visiting her sister or he would have been chased off with a warning shot. But no mom, not here, so when he landed in our back clearing, he was met by my father, knee high me and four sisters.

Dad was a nice man, especially after a few beers, and since he brewed beer for a living in our cellar, he started off each morning with two for breakfast. So, he was always nice, not too bright though. He showed the salesman in, to look over our house, ramshackle put together with a lick and a prayer; they got down to beer and down to business.

The cellar brewery and what mom earned working barely enabled us to get by. Adding in: no such thing as credit, leaves scant room to wedge in a deal but the salesman was persistent and for dad, no money was never no obstacle. He traded my two older sisters for a new floor. In his defense, they would have gone anyway. The salesman was a lecher; my sisters saw him as an easy mark. When he left with them, dad said, not taking them back. The salesman laughed at that and waved it off, thinking it a joke. I sometimes wonder how long he thought it was funny. In our society, sex is a transaction, a pervert with the gotta have its, is gonna get what he wants, along with a big helping of what he deserves.

I was too young to remember details but no matter, most of what I remember got refreshed regularly by the tale dad would tell anyone who would listen. My two remaining sisters and I could repeat it word for word, we heard it so often. Dad was mighty proud of his floor. What I do remember on my own is the installation. They cleared everything out of the house. Poured some funny smelling liquid over the floor boards until it was all one big puddle. When it hardened, all level, they laid the lifetime warranty laminate on top.

I know mom was sad when she got home to find two daughters gone. Reason to yell and throw things, you would think, but she knew she married a lovable idiot, and she also knew nothing could make those girls go if they did not want to, just as nothing could make them stay if they wanted to go. The floor was there as a reminder.

It has been years since I been back. We never heard from the two older sisters. My other sisters left to start their own families. Mom and dad passed on and I had no reason to return. Still, memories flood back as I walk the path to my old home from the river landing where the barge dropped me off.

It is hard to live here. This place wants to be a jungle. When I walk by the Yardley house where I used to play with their kids, there is nothing left of it but a cellar hole half filled in by the rotting bits of house caved in. When I get to our house, it too is collapsed, but not into the cellar. How could it? The cellar is still covered by lifetime warranty laminate.

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