Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Apologizing to Dogs

By Joe Coomer

One fateful day for the antique dealers of Worth Row of Fort Worth, Texas. Most of the dealers on this row of old houses are well past retirement age, with the exception of Nadine and Carl, who are middle-aged, and Aura and Marshall, who are in their thirties. Carl isn't an antique dealer, he is a cabinet maker. But when he moved into the old house on Worth Row, he discovered that the building was constructed of cypress. And so he slowly and carefully starting removing the cypress wood and replacing it with cheaper, thinner materials, just enough to maintain the outer walls and roof. The rest went into a sailing vessel he is building inside the house. And when it is done, he will simply remove the wall of the house and tow the vessel out and let the building collapse. But this boat is not just for Carl to sail away in, he hopes he can convince Nadine to leave her lifetime home on the Row and sail away with him.
Also on the Row is Howard, the big Indian. He deals in old tubs and other furnishings. He keeps several of the old bathtubs in the front yard. On the fateful day, he is laying in one of the tubs and talks neighbor Mose to join him in a nearby tub for a chat. Howard is old (as is Mose) and Howard is feeling the need to unburden himself of old secrets before his time comes. His old secrets will probably break Mose's heart.
Two of the family dealers on the row are unhappily married and next-door-neighbors. Mazelle and Mr. Haygood have been carrying on an affair for thirty some years, in a hidden room underneath the garden that they share in their backyards. Mrs. Haygood is aware of the affair (Mazelle's husband is not) and is just biding her time to get even with Mr. Haygood. On the day in question, a stray dog who lives under the porch of an abandoned house on the Row, starts digging a hole in the garden and uncovers the ceiling of the hidden room, much to Mazelle's husband's surprise. No wonder the fruit trees they tried to grow wouldn't thrive, he thinks to himself.
Also on the fateful day, Aura, who is a little on the fat side, gives birth to a baby she didn't know she was carrying. All this happens on the front lawn while a tornado is bearing down on her and her gathered neighbors. They all end up in the hidden room where it soon becomes apparent what has been going on all these years. And Howard and another man ride out the storm hidden under a couple of the old cast iron bath tubs.

This was quite a tale of hidden secrets. Amusing and sad and complicated and surprising, I am glad I came across this book. It is one of those stories that I will still be thinking about years later. Quite an enjoyable and entertaining and a really quirky tale.

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