Author: Guy Preston
We were at Evan’s house when he asked me if I wanted an old record player. I told him I didn’t. He picked it up and made for the door.
‘Where are you taking it?’ I asked.
‘To the curb,’ he replied.
‘It will disappear,’ he said.
He walked out and put it down. When I was leaving I noticed the record player was gone.
A few days later I went back to Evan’s house. On the lawn in front of the house, my skin prickled. There was a spectre of a machine in the place the record player had been: the ghost of a turntable.
When we were inside I asked Evan, ‘Have you done that before?’
‘Done what?’ he asked.
‘The thing with the record player,’ I said.
‘All the time.’
‘Does it always disappear?’ I asked.
‘Yes,’ he paused. ‘Why?’
‘Don’t you think it’s weird?’ I asked, ‘That it just disappears?’
‘No,’ he said, ‘this neighbourhood has a lot of foot traffic.’
I was silent for a while.
‘Is it always good stuff?’ I asked.
‘I think so, I mean, it’s good to me. Couches and stuff,’ Evan said. ‘I put an old shower curtain out there once and that disappeared.’
‘I would never take an old shower curtain,’ I said.
‘One man’s trash,’ said Evan.
‘Some trash is just trash,’ I replied.
One week later I came back with an old bedside table I had been keeping under my house. I put it on the curb and I made Evan sit with me and watch. When we were sure it was not evaporating, we left to paint figurines in the study. Thirty minutes later I checked and it was gone.
‘So fast!’ I said.
That same day we started taking real chaff to the curb. An orange, some lace, a cardboard box: after a while they all disappeared. Finally, Evan found an old shoe covered in mud and dust.
‘Here is something that absolutely no person would take,’ we thought. It was not a particularly nice shoe, and it was more dirt than shoe.
We tied a piece of string to the shoe and put it on the curb. Inside the house, we closed the front door and sat on the floor. After twenty minutes there was nothing, another ten, still nothing, and then, after an hour of dozing and talking about our lives, zip, and the string was ripped out of our hands. We opened the door and saw no sneaker, and what little remained of the string lay next to the curb, leading toward Evan’s house.
‘Okay,’ I said. We went back into the house and tied a rope around my waist. ‘Wish me luck,’ I said. I went and stood on the curb. I waited.
It was inevitable, I guess, but a nice path to get there.
That made me chuckle. Guessed where it was going but enjoyed the trip anyway.
The first several, sure, but that last decision can’t have been made (or enacted) while entirely sober…