We really needed a new bed.
We had twin mattresses and twin box springs that some rich person had placed outside for Bulk Trash even though they were perfectly good. We got them inside before the rain, and we were thankful. But nobody had thrown out any bed frames, so we just put them on the floor. I pushed together two mattresses and box springs to try to make a king-sized bed, but since one was a good four inches taller than the other, it was more like sleeping on stairsteps. And we slept on stairsteps for six months, until the next Bulk Trash.
At this Bulk Trash, another rich neighbor was throwing out an intact queen-sized bed frame with a headboard and everything. I grabbed it and dragged it back to the house. Later, we found a queen-sized mattress and rejoiced. But we didn’t have a box spring, and there was no way to use the frame and mattress without a box spring.
And then we were in luck. A dear friend donated a brand new box spring with the tag still on, an absolutely perfect queen-sized box spring. It didn’t smell like old furniture; it smelled like plastic. I was almost afraid to touch it, but I steeled myself.
It was then that we realized that the box spring would not fit up the stairs. They were too narrow, and the turn on the landing was too sharp. No matter which way we flipped it, there was always just an inch or two too little space.
The box spring sat in our laundry room disused, next to Crockett and Tubbs, for an embarrassingly long time.
Finally, one night when we were feeling especially ambitious, we decided to move the box spring again.
The first step was to try to push it up the stairs again, of course. You can’t move furniture without trying what’s already proven futile at least two more times, and we did. We scuffed the ceiling and were nearly flattened when it came back down the stairs, but we still couldn’t clear the landing.
The next step was to get creative. I said that we could lift it onto the porch roof, then up through the big picture window in the bedroom. Michael casually mentioned that since he’s tall, he would push the mattress from the lawn, and since I’m short, I would stand on the porch to guide it up.
I tried. I really did. But as I slung one leg over the window frame, I remembered that I’m terrified of heights. I sat there immobile, straddling the windowsill like a bareback rider, for five minutes and didn’t even shout back when the college students across the street heckled me.
It was then that I noticed the dead cat.