by Terry Hargrove
I don’t care what he says, Steve’s sectional sofa bit me. Despite the injury to my hand, I was able to help him get the sectional sofa into my abode. It wasn’t easy, since my apartment was on the second level of a refurbished antebellum home, and the only access was a winding, open air, metal staircase that was half covered by the drooping limbs of a willow tree. When we finally got it through the door and pushed it into place, I thought I liked the sofa just where it landed. And there it sat, heavy and brooding, a massive lump of fabric and concrete wood.
“Well, it’s all yours,” said Steve. “You know, it’s none of my business, but if I were you, I’d tell the landlord that this sofa can stay with the apartment when you move. I hope I never have to pick it up again.”
“What are you going to tell your wife when she finds out the sofa is missing?” I asked. “You can’t make something up, since Lindsey saw us take it.”
“I’ll buy her a new one,” said Steve. “A light one. You wouldn’t believe how many times she wanted this thing moved. ‘Let’s put it beside this wall. I think I like it better in the corner.’ It was driving me nuts.”
“Yeah, well. You know how women are,” I said. “But since you brought it up, I think we need to move it to the other side of the room.”
“Well, just scoot it over,” said Steve.
“I can’t scoot this thing. Hardwood floors! If they’re scratched, I’ll lose my deposit. Come on, it’ll just take a second.”
Seven minutes later.
“Look at my fingers!” wailed Steve. “This thing has stretched my fingers. I could palm a watermelon now.”
“It is the heaviest piece of furniture I’ve ever moved,” I said, gasping for breath. “That’s why I need to get it in just the right spot. So I won’t ever have to move it again.”
“Well, this looks good to me,” said Steve. “Nice view of the yard.”
“No, no. The floor is too weak here,” I said. “We better move it to that side, where there are some heavy beams underneath to support it. Come on, it’ll just take a second.”
Fourteen minutes later.
“I can’t feel my thumbs,” wailed Steve. “It looks great here, really.”
I was struggling with the heat and the strain on two knees that were beginning to bend the wrong way. I thought I was going to faint.
“How, how did we end up, in the kitchen?” I gasped. “Let’s take it back to where it was, in the beginning. We can do this. Come on, we’re grown men. No couch can beat us. Oh, no, it‘s gotten heavier!”
“Because… you … called…it…a…couch,” said Steve. “It’s …a … sectional …sofa!”
It took three days for me to recover, and I didn’t see Steve again until October. Eventually, I was able to solve a few of the mysteries of the sectional sofa. I found a tag that said the sofa took 16 DD batteries. No doubt, they were cased in lead somewhere in the base of the thing. I think it had some of those magic finger things built into it, because if you were very still, you could feel the slightest vibration. Unfortunately, I never found the tag that said where those batteries were installed, nor could I find an on/off switch. That explained the sound, too. It wasn’t growling, it was humming.
The subtle vibration had the unusual effect of causing the sofa to move, ever so slightly, on the hardwood floors. I was watching continental drift with furniture, and if I went away for a weekend, the sofa would be completely out of the living room when I returned.
Unlike a certain best friend, I took the moral high road. I did not attempt to unload the sectional sofa on somebody else. When I tired of its slow and deliberate pursuit, I moved. The landlord was very happy with the sectional sofa, and I was pleased that I would never again have to pick it up. I took another of my landlord’s properties, about a mile away.
So you can imagine my sorrow when the phone rang and my younger brother informed me that he and his new wife, Cindy, were moving into my old apartment. She hated the outside access, the downstairs neighbors and the willow tree, but had fallen in love with the sectional sofa. Every female who laid eyes on the thing fell hard for it. David just needed a little help moving it from where it had been left by the previous tenant.
“It’s none of my business, but why did you put your couch in the bathroom?” he asked.
“Don’t call it a couch,” I said sadly. “It’s a sectional sofa.”
Yes, I helped. And after a week in the hospital, I was as good as new. But the feeling that the sectional sofa was only a mile away preyed on my mind. I dreamed that the sofa was chasing me, like a glacier, and that no matter how fast I ran, eventually I stood at the ocean and the sofa was a scant 5000 miles behind me, and closing slow.
It was about this time that I met Nancy. She had lots of very light furniture covered with dirty clothes, and I had my own washer and dryer that meant no more trips to the LaundryMat, so ours was a symbiotic relationship. We married in December, 1995, and moved into her townhouse the very next week. She never did see the sectional sofa. My younger brother was delighted.
“Listen, I know you have other things on your mind right now, but I’m wondering about something.”
“What’s on your mind, little brother?” I said. “I’m so happy today, I won’t turn down any reasonable request.”
“Well, I talked to our landlord about this, and he said Cindy and I can get your old apartment, since you and Nancy will be in her townhouse.”
“Uh huh.” I began to sweat.
“We’ll be moving our stuff in next week. Do you think you could help me move the sectional sofa?”
I did. And when he moved back to Lewisburg in 1997, I helped him move it again. And when my mom saw it and said it was too small for David and Cindy’s house, but would fit perfectly in her new den, I moved it across the street. I did have the foresight to cover the thing with a huge afghan, so that Nancy never saw the sectional sofa the way all the other women in my family had. I foolishly hoped that she might be immune to its sensuous appeal.
Well, mom is in assisted living now, and The Dad hates the sofa as much as I did.
So when I call him, we plot ways to get rid of the thing that has, in some bizarre Darwinian fashion, learned to open doors and vibrate up steps. Eventually, the stress was too much for him. He sent Nancy a birthday card that included a photo of him sitting on the sectional sofa. The afghan was gone. Nancy is staring at the photo even now. She’s been staring at it for a long, long time.