Michelle on Tape
As I pulled into my parents' driveway, I realized how loud the radio was. I turned it down, peeled my legs off the blue vinyl seat, and lugged my pile of laundry up to the front door. The doorknob wouldn't turn and I still hadn't gotten around to making myself a duplicate key.
I rang the bell and waited. Nothing.
Leaving my basket of dirty clothes on the steps, I tramped through the bushes in front of the living room window. Pep was across the room sitting in his usual chair and reading the paper. He was a familiar sight in his plaid flannel shirt, striped clip-on bow tie, and tweed cabby hat.
I knocked on the window. He turned around, startled, and focused his eyes on me. I smiled and waved at him, but he just stared at me. I gestured toward the front door. His face had that hollow look, but something made him get up and let me in.
"Hi, Pep." I kissed him on the cheek. He made way for me and my laundry.
"Hello, how are you?"
I headed for the washing machine. Pep trailed closely behind.
"Kevin and Clare aren't home, but they should be here soon. Do you want to wait for them?"
"Yah, I'll be here." I began separating whites from darks.
"Do you want anything to eat? There's meat and bread in the ice box and some cookies in there."
"I don't know where Kevin and Clare are. They took Katie out somewhere. Do you know Katie?"
I paused. Here we go. This was going to be one of those conversations. I should just say, "Why, yes, I know Katie." But perhaps if I venture a bit further, something might jog his memory and we wouldn't have to go through the whole routine. Dad says that Pep has a tape recorder in his brain, and bits and pieces keep getting erased.
I decided to give it a shot. "Pep, Katie is my sister."
It didn't work. Pep responded as though I hadn't said a word. "Yah. Well, they went down to . . ." He doubled his chin and scratched his chest...