between his legs. “Sorry,” I said. I helped my mother by asking her to unscrew the vacuum cleaner accessories and reach me one at a time over the bagged mattress where I took them. The vacuum cleaner was a Regina brand and its casing, which contained the motor, dust bag and fan, was very heavy. I reassembled the vacuum cleaner, held it while my mother crossed the mattress again, handed it back to her, and pressed myself against the wall so she could pass me on her way to the master bedroom. “Thank you,” my mother said as she passed me. I stood next to the slumped mattress in such perfect silence that I could hear the lawnmowers on the street all the way down the hall, then I heard my mother unplug the retractable cord of the vacuum cleaner and plug it into the same socket by the bed which also fed the steel reading lamps with electricity.
I worked my way over the angled mattress, walked quickly down the hall, turned sharply to the right at the kitchen door, crossed the hall on the way to the stairs and ran up to my room, taking several steps at a time to get around myself as quickly as possible as far as possible from the vacuum cleaner, the noise of which I have always had the same irrational fear as my father apparently of creaking beds. I ran upstairs, turned left on the landing, and went to my room. Here was my bed. It was narrow, a single bed with a wooden headboard and wooden frame and slatted frame. I didn’t know where it came from. The bed frame held the narrow spring frame and mattress much higher off the floor than did my parents’ bed. It was an old-fashioned bed, so high off the floor that you had to put one knee on the mattress and climb or jump up. What I did. For the first time since towering over my parents, I took a few steps from the door, past the shelves with my prismatic
and collections of lenses, the tennis trophies and the scale magneto, past the bookshelf and the stills from Powell’s Eyes of Fear, the closet door and the high-intensity floor lamp by the bed, and jumped on my bed with a full-blown swallow.