Who knew Hell had four windows and a roof?
You pursed your lips as the truck pulled into the driveway. It was short and stout, with just enough cracks to break several mother’s backs.
“Gonna be hard to get the mattress off.” You mumble to your partner, who is more preoccupied with his phone.
Your partner Bob momentarily looks up from his phone, ignores everything you say, and farts.
“Driveway’s not long enough.”
You hate Bob and his farts. He’s the asshole you’re stuck with 8 hours a day.
You rip one last sip of your Redbull hoping to fuck you get wings, because today you need it. Today, you got the granddaddy order of them all. Delivering that big ass king-sized mattress into a prince-sized house. You pull the chain from your neck and kiss the pendant. You don’t know if you believe in luck, but today you want to. Delivering anything into Petite Parkway is practically a death sentence.
The last time your number was called here, delivering one dresser turned into five years of therapy and three years of unpaid bills. You shake uncontrollably, if only for a moment, step out of the truck, and are immediately greeted by a man. He is long, lanky, and unsure with thinning hair. He looks at the side of the truck and the sign that says, “Burning River Furniture.” And immediately asks an obvious question.
“Is this burning river furniture?” His eyes drift from the van’s logo to the same logo on your shirt.
You let the stress out through your nose. The doctor said this is a good thing. Stress will kill a man. Little does the soft handed doctor know, moving a mattress on Petite Parkway will kill a man too.
You reply mutedly, “Yes it is.” The man’s all of a sudden unnaturally excited. It’s as if getting a mattress delivered was the equivalent of a top-thrill rollercoaster. You could tell this was more excitement than he had in months. Poor Soul.
“Great! You’re here for the mattress, right?”
You grit your teeth and want to tell him this is one big mix-up. That out of all the driveways in the world, your truck just happened to pull into here for shits and giggles. But you chicken out like the bitch you are.”Sure do.”
“Great! – let me show you where it goes.”
The man turns his back to you and pushes on towards the house. And that’s when you really size it up. Mover’s lore.
This fuckin pile of wood, and stone is a death trap. You hate that man more than you hate Bob’s farts.
“Come on in.”
He opens the door, and a life unfolds before you. A couch, neatly adorned with fresh autumn blankets folded on the brim. Family photos from years of vacations, each smile wider than the last. Candles still waiting to be burned. And enough live, love laugh, laugh artwork to know the family shops at Target. You hate them.
Your eyes are like a soldier’s eyeing up potential threats. They move a mile a minute, and they don’t like what they see. The ceilings are too low, the hallway is too narrow, and the corners are too tight. You wonder if there’s still a gun hiding under the front seat. It would be a faster way out.
“Yep, we just need the mattress right up here.” The man leads you up the long and narrow staircases, with more twists and turns than in an Agatha Christie novel. Between grinding teeth, you utter. “No problem sir.”
You’re 48 and calling a 31-year-old, sir. What has life become?
Finally, he opens the door to the destination. One room too small for a mattress too large.
“Think it’ll fit?”
You don’t respond. You turn your back. After sizing it up, you let him know you need to get back to the truck. You always need to get back to the truck. It’s a thing.
Inside the truck, Bob is moving his head from side to side, trying to get a feel for how the move is going to go. He makes dumb, obvious comments. “Is it bad?” “Will it be hard?” “Think we can do it?”
Right about now, you wish you never gave up smoking because, damn, you could use a stick.
“Let’s just get the damn thing done.”
Motivation. How fleeting.
You move to the back of the truck, and slowly, the door opens. Creek, creek creek, and there it is. You and him. Mono Y Mono.
“I fucking hate you!” You tell the mattress. It doesn’t respond. You slowly hoist it up.
“Just slow and steady, Bob… like we practiced.”
You never practiced.
Bob puts his phone down and hoists the mattress up before immediately losing his grip.
“What the fuck, Bob!”
“Sorry, lost my grip.”
He wasn’t sorry.
You try it again, 1, 2, 3, UuuuuHHHHH. It’s in the air.
“Ok Bob, just right this way.” Right about now, you really wish those wings would kick in.
You get the mattress off the truck and begin your approach. The first obstacle is the porch steps. Five cascading bastards, ripe for the slipping.
“Ok Bob, Let’s take it slow.-OH!”
Bob’s definition of slow was speeding up the exact moment your heel hit the stairs.
The man, not used to screaming, sticks his head outside the door like a gopher checking his surroundings.
“Watch your step!”
You wish you could, but you know, there’s this mattress-thing in the way.
After some grunting, you make your way inside the house. Sweat is pouring down in buckets and blinding your eyes. You’re pretty sure the man cranked the heat up a few degrees just to mess with you. You hate him. And that’s when you see it. A pair of well-worn leather gloves and a suspicious red substance. Your pupils become pins, and you shimmy your head from side to side.
Some movers have died here. You tighten your grip.
“Ok, fellas, just up the stairs… almost there”
Almost there – minus – the stairs!
“Alright – Bob, we got the stairs…. You remember those?”
“Shut up, Marv.”
Tepidly, you turn the corner and start the incline. After three stairs, you’re pretty sure this is harder than Everest. Five stairs in, you hate the builder. You even think about letting him know at his grave. Seven stars in, you’re questioning your career and the choices that lead you here. And finally, nine stairs in – you think it would be easier without Bob, who has lost his grip a few more times.
When you reach the top, you’re greeted with a welcome from someone who never had to endure the pain.
“See, it wasn’t that bad!” Says the man while holding a cup of coffee with his smooth hands.
Your sweat drips onto his carpet.
“Yep.” You enthusiastically lie.
“Alright, is there any way you want the king bed facing?”
“King-sized bed?” The man scratches his chin.
“I ordered the queen… are you sure this is the right one?”
In that moment, he fades away.
For some strange reason, the window looks invitingly ajar.