by Terry Hargrove
As a man, there are some things I simply can’t do. I can’t bake a cake. I can’t sooth a crying infant. I can‘t be expected to bypass a potential short cut, nor should I ever be seen asking for directions. I can‘t ignore a football game, nor can I live, for even a short period of time, without sports. But I can cry. Why is it OK for this man to cry? Because this man can‘t pick furniture.
When I was suddenly single in 1993, I did the decent thing and allowed my soon-to-be ex-wife to take whatever furniture she felt she couldn’t part with. Little did I know the strong emotional attachments she had formed, for when she was done, I had my clothes, a Beta tape player, and two seats from our kitchen table. But that didn’t bother me, since I had, deeply rooted within my being, the old hunter-gatherer gene, so I was off to scrounge for any scrap of wood I could find. I mean, that’s all a table is, right? Just the top of a tree with a few limbs left over. I called my friend Steve to ask if he could help.
“Sure, I’ll help you,” he said. “In fact, I’ve got a sweet sectional sofa here that I’ll let you have for $100. I paid $699 for it, but I’ve been wanting to replace it.”
“Wow, only $100?” I asked. “What’s wrong with it?”
“Nothing! Nothing, I swear!” he shouted. Then he tried to compose himself. “Um, ha, ha. I mean, you can come by and see it for yourself, if you want. I’ll even help you take it to your apartment.”
Great. Cheap furniture and help moving it. So I pulled my pickup to Steve’s back door and honked the horn. Then it seemed as if his house shuddered. When I went to his back door and yelled, Steve almost jumped out of his shoes.
“Is he really gonna take it, daddy? Don’t let him take my haunted couch,” said Lindsey.
“Haunted couch?” I asked.
“He, ha. Did she say haunted?” laughed Steve. “Well, you know how kids are. Haunted. Ha, ha. Are you ready to load it up? I’ve got time now.”
“What about the money?” I asked.
“Oh, the money. Ha, ha. Yep, here it is. $100, right?”
“I thought I was supposed to pay you,” I said.
“Oh, right! Right,” he muttered. “Tell you what. I’ll just keep the money and we’ll call it even.”
“Daddy! The couch is growling again,” said Lindsey.
“If it doesn’t want me to let the cat back in, it’ll stop!” demanded Steve. “Ha, ha. Just a little family joke. Let’s load this baby up, what do you say?”
The sectional sofa was beautiful. It seemed to be three recliners joined together, and was a great shade of blue. You know, the shade of blue that a guy thinks goes with everything. Like denim. But it weighed around 600 pounds. More disconcerting, when I stooped to get a grip on the bottom of the thing, it bit me.
“There are some staples on the bottom that have come loose,” laughed Steve. “A couples of stitches and you’ll be just fine.”
“Staples?” I asked. “Look, there are teeth marks on the back of my hand.”
“Coincidence,” replied Steve. “They just look like teeth marks. Tell you what, I’ll get my neighbor to help me and we’ll take it right over to your apartment. But we have to move fast! Tammy will be home any minute.”
But the neighbor wouldn’t come. The neighbor knew all about Steve’s sectional sofa and he wouldn’t even step into the yard.
As my head grew light from loss of blood, I was able to put together pieces of the truth from Steve’s narrative. He had purchased the sectional sofa for $700. But from the time he moved it into his house, he hated it. While it wasn’t that long, it seemed to be made from some freakish neutron star material. Steve claimed the sofa actually got heavier the longer he owned it. His living room floor was beginning to sag, and he was afraid if he kept the sofa much longer, he’d have to replace the floor and then would never be able to sell his house.
But there was more. The three parts of the sofa were separated by beams of concrete wood. That’s what he called it, concrete wood, and that’s what it felt like. Steve knew it was some kind of wood because he was always pulling inch-long splinters from his hands. He claimed the sofa could shoot those slivers of concrete wood across the floor and into him. But the kicker was that women loved the sectional sofa. His wife thought it was the greatest piece of furniture she’d ever laid eyes on, and his daughter loved it, too. Lindsey said that the sectional sofa talked to her every night, and told her wonderful stories about a magical land where happy wood folk made furniture from trees that grew in the Sing-Song forest.
“It’s just a couch,” said Steve, wearily.
“His name is Percy,” replied Lindsey. “And he doesn’t like it when you call him a couch. Percy is a sectional sofa.”
I know what you’re thinking. A haunted sofa is a terrible thing to give to your best friend. It was like Steve’s own monkey’s paw. Was I actually going to take this piece of furniture that had attacked me? A cou– I mean, sectional sofa that had drawn first blood and seemed to be growling at me even as I stared at it? Would I be able to sleep at night when there was an honest-to-goodness, evil-to-the-core lump of fabric and concrete wood just on the other side of the bedroom wall? Would I really let this happen?
Hell yes, I would. It was free. I’d take drywall with screaming demons trapped inside if it was free. Besides, everything Steve had said about the sectional sofa could be explained away by too much beer or an overactive imagination or a natural magnetic field that attracts concrete wood slivers. A haunted sofa? Ridiculous.
But I learned the truth later. That sofa wasn’t haunted. That sofa was cursed…