(From The Riotous Walls, unpublished short novel)
Furniture, it turns out, is a luxury. You don’t need it to survive. Of course rooms look better with things in them, but our economic problems out-shouted the aesthetic ones. Between the four of us, we owned a mountain of cardboard boxes, one fan, four lamps, two clocks and a total of six single mattresses, all stolen from the college dorm. I don’t know how we got too many. Beth and I took two, threw them on our floor and pushed them together to make one big bed. Nina and Sheila too two, threw them on their floor and pushed them to opposite sides of the room. They were friends, but not best friends like Beth and me. The two leftovers went into the Passion Pit. We would have had to wear our clothes of out of the cardboard boxes if the rooms hadn’t included closets with shelves.
The only piece of furniture that came with the apartment was The Desk. The living room boasted a Desk so immense and so Heavy that it could only have been assembled in that very room. No human being could have gotten it up the precarious stairs and even God couldn’t have gotten it through the door. We could have used it as a table had we owned a chair. As it were, we put Sheila’s ancient stereo on it and stashed things in its drawers. I guess we could have painted furniture on the walls. In the end, it’s probably the only thing we didn’t paint on them.
. . .
Beth rode the couch, lounging like Queen Bathsheba, the day Mark and Curtis carried it to us. Tony Royal, or friend the cafeteria thief, said we could have it when he graduated he left town forever. It’s not the kind of thing you would take with you. You would, in fact, feel fortunate if you were able to give it away. It was a furry stained nursing-home pink and had offensive sprung springs but you could lay, sit or stand on it. You could lose things in it or under it. But it was our only piece of furniture which made it as hard to hate as it was to love.
I can’t believe Beth had the nerve to lie on it all the way home. I would never do that. But then again, I weigh a lot more than she does. That’s the effect Beth has on men; they happily carry her a mile in the summer sun while she lies on a couch. Me; not exactly.
When the day finally came to remove it, we didn’t carry it down the precarious stairway to the street as carefully as we carried it up. We hauled it to the door and threw it off the porch. It crashed to the ground and then we set it on fire. The neighbor man who hates us called the police so we had to say it was an accident.
That was a great idea. It was much easier to throw away after it was all burned up.