Whose House?

Chapter 22, Blog 2

By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang


Some way, somehow, Harry always gets what he wants.

He didn’t suggest moving into my house.

I did. He protested. I insisted. And there he was on my doorstep.

Harry took over our guest room and the bathroom, then the study, then most of the downstairs where he and his buddies cheat at cards in our rec room every Thursday night. Science calls it entropy. Once something’s in motion, there’s no stopping it. I call it Harry. Like it or not, letting him move in did make Melinda come home for about 15 minutes. I considered it a breakthrough. All Shannon and Jessie did was tell their mother about the new house guest. As usual, Melinda was concerned about my welfare.

“What in the world are you doing?” she screamed, stomping unannounced into my steamy bathroom one morning.

Melinda never had good timing. Not only was I showering, but a fat glop of shampoo was burning my right eye. I flailed for a towel. Instead, my wet hands landed on Melinda’s cotton blouse with predictable results.


Nothing gets your attention like a good slap in the face. For me, an added bonus – it knocked the soap right out.

“You imbecile!”

“What is your problem?” I blurted, now with my face burning. I turned off the shower and grabbed a real towel.

“A perfect stranger? In our house? What’s going on?”

“SSSShhhh, you’re going to wake him. Hey, did you say ‘our house’?”

“You know what I mean. WHY?”

“He’s my coach,” I said, toweling off.

“You have to be kidding.” Out of frustration, Melinda started to laugh. “He’s your what?”

“My coach.”

… might as well say whore and have it on the record …

“Oh my God! You are the world’s biggest sap,” Melinda said.

Here, I went for broke.

“Want to stay for breakfast?”

Guess not.

I was busted. I didn’t see the kids for a whole week. But they nagged their mother until she could take it no more, so she made Dedra come along to monitor.

If Harry was anything – and the talented son of a bitch was many – he was a five-star, short-order cook. With his walker propped as a backstop, he whipped up pancakes shaped like bunnies for Jessie while Shannon devoured his fluffy, delectable french toast. Much to Melinda’s chagrin, our daughters begged and begged for more breakfasts at “our house.” The kids liked Harry’ cooking, but they loved his stories. I did, too, although I did wince at the occasional LSD reference and anything to do with Abbie Hoffman. But Harry found storytelling cathartic. Shannon and Jessie thought it magical. For me, it spelled nostalgia.

Even Dedra couldn’t resist. A widow for 11 years, she liked Harry. When he wanted to, he could charm a mountain goat, not that my mother-in-law had those kind of horns.

As my track coach, however, Harry was a five-star, fire-spitting asshole.

Copyright © 2012 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang

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