The beginning of a story about the end.
There were three quick knocks on the door.
That was a secret signal, and our typical suburban household exploded into chaos.
Our dog, the most placid non-aggressive dog in the world, erupted as though he were Cujo.
Pavlov got famous for his discovery, yet every dog owner everywhere knows that even the world’s most candy-assed dog turns into Rin TIn Tin when the doorbell rings.
As he bolted to the door , he brushed by our five year old daughter, sending her sprawling to the ground and catalyzing her cacophonous wail.
My wife, upstairs, shouted “ What happened to the baby? “ and our older children, a 16 year old girl and a 13 year old boy, were unmoved as they slid more deeply into whatever digital diversion they were involved with to avoid helping.
“Damn it!” I shouted, as I scooped up the baby and ran for the door, now eager to confront whatever imbecile waited on the other side, trying to part me and my money or me and my lack of beliefs.
As it turns out, they were like three quick knocks on the door of existentialism.
“What!” I shouted at the pleasant looking middle-aged woman who was standing on my doorstep. The baby, reading my frustration, cranked into a new decibel.
“ I have a very unusual request, “ she said.
“Do you have a friggin’ reading problem lady?” I asked, motioning towards the “No Solicitors” sign that adorned our door.
The baby, mysteriously recovering, demanded to be put down, so I put her down and she ran away.
“Yes, I do actually ,” she said
“Excuse me ?” I said . I hadn’t realized until then that while I had been holding the baby in my right arm, my left hand clutched the dog’s collar and he, seeing a carbon based life form on the other side of the door, was dying to run away lest he be forced somehow to back up his bark.
I let him go, he ran away into the house.
“You asked if I had a reading problem and I do” she said “ I have dyslexia”.
“Marc!!!!” shouted my wife .
“What?” I shouted back.
“Who’s at the door?”
“ Some woman with dyslexia” I shouted back, making a quick nod toward the namow htiw aixelsyd.
“What does she want?” my wife asked, and just for a second I thought that was kind of an interesting response to my response.
“ I don’t know yet, ” I said.
“ Where’s the dog and the baby?” she continued
“ I don’t know”.
“Do you have a reading problem?” asked the woman
“Huh?” I said
“Well, I told you so I was just wondering if you did too, “ she said.
“ As a matter of fact, they thought I had dyslexia when I was younger,” I said “But I grew out of it I guess. But that’s besides the point unless this is some sort of Montel Williams thing and you are about to give me a paternity test for some kid of yours, which I doubt. I think it was pretty clear from my tone that the question was rhetorical and mainly just implying I wanted you to leave.”
“ I am tone deaf,” said the woman.
“ You didn’t get a lot of breaks did you ?” I said
“Actually, I did. Dyslexia is linked to entrepreneurship. Three of the ‘Shark Tank’ sharks have dyslexia. I own a lot of businesses so yes, I DID get a lot of breaks and one of them was dyslexia even if I didn’t always think so. But not being tone deaf isn’t a break I didn’t get. I did get it and I can prove it: I like the Dave Matthews Band and Milli Vanilli .
“ What the hell? I don’t care, I don’t want to talk to you. And, by the way, I happen to not like the Dave MAtthews Band , but musical taste is subjective, so you liking them doesn’t mean you are tone deaf. And, liking Milli Vanilli certainly doesn’t prove it because they didn’t even sing their songs- they were lip synchers. So your point sucks.”
“ Can I bury Dick in your yard?” she said.
I hate to admit it, but that got my attention.
“ What the fuck?” I said , a little too loudly .
“Dad , watch your mouth around Catherine!” shouted my 16 year old, Zoey, who seems to come to life when I fuck up.
“ Fuck,” I said in disappointment. I said it too loudly
“ DAD!” screamed Zoey.
“Fine!” I yelled back up the stairs. “ What the f — — , frig did you just ask me? “ I said to the woman
“ I am sorry to phrase it that way, “ she said “ But I thought you were about to throw me off of your property.”
“ I was” .
“ But I cannot leave until I beg you to bury Dick” she said .
“ I am I ‘Punked?’’ I said , only partially sarcastically scanning my front yard for cameras.
“No,” she said “ I wish”.
“You know,” I said “ I have opened my doors to a lot of weirdos, but this is a gold medalist. You are asking me to bury something named Dick in my yard”.
“Some ONE named Dick” she corrected
“ Oh, in that case SURE” I mockingly replied “ April! Call the cops! “ I screamed to my wife.
“ No , please, Dick is…..WAS ….my brother . WE lived here before you. He just died three days ago.” she said.
“ What am I , your fucking biographer?”
“DAD!!!!!!” screamed Zoey
Wyatt, our thirteen year old, slid into the kitchen behind me, cradling his phone.
“Why is ZOey yelling at you dad ?” Wyatt asked.
“Because I said ‘fuck’ near Catherine”
“Shut up Zoey”
“Oh, well who is that at the door dad?”
“ A possibly tone deaf, definitely dyslexic woman who lived here before us and whose brother is dead. She wants to bury him in our yard.” I said
“Oh” he replied, grabbed a snack, resumed watching tik tok, and went back into the basement.
“ Have you ever heard of a tree pod burial?” the woman asked.
“Well it’s when human remains are buried in a pod rather than in a casket so that a tree can grow out of the pod”.
“ Well, my brother loved this house and he loved that tree” she said, pointing to a large oak in our yard.
“Well his last wish was for me to ask if he could be eternally implanted under that tree because some of his happiest memories were there in that tree in this yard” she said.
“ Get the fuck out of here”
“ We will pay you 50 thousand dollars if you agree” she said.
“Come in” I said.
The only solicitor I ever let into my house was the woman wanting to plant the Dick Tree