It was evening and I was down in the garage in the company of my mother at the end of day when one of the buildings former unit owners stormed in. She had never taken a liking to me or my family for that matter. In part because she was a Lesbian and she thought that we had always looked down upon her. And of course because she had secured a position as a vendor from the building management as the house painter. A task that both she and her life partner were not exceptionally good at. My family and I had long ago complained. It seems that I had sold one of the family’s old Lincoln’s. Practically gin it away for a small amount of money. But when she came down she tore into me straight away complaining about the auto. My mother and I looked at her a bit dumbfounded as neither of us had been expecting a lambasting. The car was a good car and both my mother and I knew it! It seemed that it was a lazy day and the usual menace of daily problems had ebbed for the evening into a gentle exchange of family pleasantries before this distraction. The previous topic of conversation having something to do with a peculiar distant aroma. Finally I politely confronted the aggravated woman and she admitted that she just did not like me. That was her major reason for dissatisfaction with the auto.
All the while I had been smelling something. Something familiar from everyday life. Yet a so,ethnic that I still felt unaccustomed to. It was cooking gas. It dawned upon me that my mother looked so old all of a sudden. Then I recalled that she was dead. She’d been dead for almost two years. I turned over to find myself lying in her bed and that same persistent cloying smell of what I now seemed to understand was cooking gas from the stove still about me. “No hurry I thought?” I was still dopey from the dream. Or, was it from the gas? All the apartment’s windows were closed because the building’s maintenance had finally gotten the air conditioning unit to work again. My own unit’s air distribution unit was chugging away non-stop in the darkness somewhere. “Gas, huh?” I let go a mighty trumpet blast of my own. The beans and rice hastily cooked from hours earlier the evening before. I had passed out early. Then another sustained blast, and I felt partially deflated like an old circus balloon laying horizontal on the town’s parkway. Something forgotten from a nineteenth century carnival that had been passing through town from its previous destination of a hamlet of rubes lost somewhere in that timeless eternity of collective memory. Willoughby, now doubt. There was a futility of purpose in my flagging sense of alacrity as I swung myself heavily up to a sitting position on the side of the bed being in no great hurry. “Was there any real pressing reason to continue?“, I wondered?
I felt akin to the star crossed character in the last chapter of “Sister Carrie“, by Theodore Drieser who on finding the gaslight pilot on the wall unit of his shabby run-down flophouse room had gone out. Tired and defeated at every juncture of his recent existed he decided it really didn’t matter that much one was or another and just went back to join the eternity of his forebears. My own mother it seems had shown up, no doubt, to rescue me. Somethings never end! I was my mother’s best creation. And though I am sure that my own lack of success and errant decisions over the years had vexed both her and my father it never staunched their love for me. Sitting there I could admit that even in the dream I had felt indifferent. It was a slow controlled stagger like a punch drunk Palooka when I arose o find my way through the small maze of furniture invisible within the few rooms of the darkened apartment to the kitchen. I sniffed the air a bit here and there as I went. “Maybe some gas?“, I thought to myself. I felt somewhat like I had the night before when returning home after a bit too much alcohol plied to a mostly empty stomach. Tonight I had not tasted a drop. The last turn brought me to the initial conclusion that there was no apparent visual evidence of mischief. Everything OK. The vicinity of the four burners was dark. But feeling around the front of the stove with my fingers for the knobs position, it became evident that one of them was still flipped over left on at a low setting. “Yup, it was gas alright!” It was hard to discern if my own brand of overgenerous methane seemed more piquant than this immediate variety commercially provided as a warning to thoughtless fools like myself by the gas company? The knobs were all closed tightly shut and then a short bit late rechecked again to make sure that they would cause no further mischief. The windows were now all open now leaving a cool breeze to flow through the entire space. I recalled how my mother had become increasingly forgetful in those last few years of her life and would accidentally leave a stove burner on. And that at some point, I would find and then sternly scold her about. Now it appeared she had had her chance to return the favor.