13 December 2006

The Disgusting Mattress

I have realized that my postings lately have been both rare and regrettably un-profound. My only excuse is that the schedule of work and socializing has made it difficult to engage in true blogging pursuits. In the hope of mitigating this, I present the following tale.

I was enlisted the other day to help in picking up a mattress. A friend, George, had found a mattress for twenty-five dollars in the local classifieds. Being out of work, George did not mind suffering the inconvenience of the one-hour drive toward the Tennessee border to retrieve the bedding. As I have a van (Anette Breeze), I was asked to help in the mission.

Three of us drove out in the late afternoon, heading out of town and into the surrounding mountains. We took highway 240 and then 74, and finally left the main road in a small town near the Tennessee border.

Now, as we came off the road here, the landscape drastically changed. Houses were small and garbage littered the yards. Following George's instructions, I turned up steeply graded roads, heading toward our final destination. It was at this point that I asked him, "George, are you sure these people have a mattress? Maybe they're just luring us in to kill us..."

We all laughed nervously and continued along. Soon enough, we reached the house for which we searching. The house was a large trailer surrounded by wooden porches. The porches were filled with every manner of junk and oddity. Inside the brightly lit trailer, a fat woman sat smoking cigarettes at the kitchen table. An older man walked outside.

"You must be George," he said to George. "Here for the mattress." We responded, explaining that George was, in fact, George, and that we were there for the mattress. George and the man immediately set to loading the mattress and box spring into the van. Meanwhile, I milled around, talking with the large woman (some strange conversation about having accidentally gotten two Christmas trees) and watched the progress.

After a few moments, I realized that the older man's health was not wonderful, and so I went to help carry the heavy mattress. With everything loaded into the car, I moved to the sliding side door in order to accomodate the bulky objects.

Now...at this point, I noticed, hanging from the inside of the boxspring, what looked suspiciously like the tail on a "coonskin" (Davy Crockett-style) cap. Curious, I called out to the man, "Excuse me sir, but is this a real animal here?"

The man approached me and calmly looked at the strange tail-like appendage. He nonchalantly reached out, grabbed it, and pulled, revealing a dead, frozen squirrel. "Now," he said, "how do you suppose that squirrel got in there?" With the same nonchalance, he tossed the squirrel into the street.

Our nervous laughter reappeared, and I began to reexamine the mattress. It was then that I noticed the strange marroon stain on the side of the boxspring. The stain had obviously been caused by a liquid, but the center of the circle was made up of a solid matter. I moved my nose close to the stain, inhaled, and experienced an awful stench.

I quietly elbowed George, pointing out the spot. "Does it smell?" he asked. "Damn right it does," I responded.

He smelled out and recoiled sharply. He looked at the man and pointed out the spot. The man, with characteristic nonchalance, stuck his nose against the fabric and inhaled deeply. "I don't smell nothin'," he said, "but maybe my nose is messed up...who knows."

I now looked at George, sure that he would wish for us to unload the bed and leave this place immediately. He appeared unsure of what to do, and after a few moments, said, "Well...the mattress is already in the car...I guess that I'll still take it."

To which the woman responded, "Well...I'll take off five dollars on account of the squirrel."

And he took it.

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