Family Life, Fiction

Episode 4 – The Vacuum Cleaner Cord

It’s Saturday.

“You want to see something really cool,” Denny holds up his watch and starts talking to it, “‘I have a really cool idea of something to write. It’s all about a taco.’”

Denny is looking at me as he is talking to his watch, the one he got for Christmas that connects to his Android phone.

“And then I can go to my phone later in the day and it will have all those notes for me. Pretty cool, eh?” He shows me his phone and sure enough, there is a message about a taco!

“Kind of like Star Wars,” he says. “I can go to Jason and say Agent 763489. This is 76. Nice stash.” Denny is pretending now with his watch. Jason is our grandson. He’s at the age where he loves make-belief.

I am sitting in my chair, waiting to begin my writing. Denny knows I want to start writing. I have told him so.

“What do you mean by ‘nice stash’?” I ask him.


Now I smile. Denny is proud of his own ‘stache.’ It is fairly prominent.

“It wasn’t about the moustache this morning,” I say, coyly.

Denny laughs merrily. He trimmed his moustache after he got out of the shower and came into the bedroom to show me.

Now he brings his cup of tea to me and wafts it under my nose.

“Do you want to smell this?


“Makes you feel like you want to eat something.” Denny is a coffee and tea connoisseur. But I was the one who picked this tea—peach spice. We ordered a bag of loose tea online for a deal. We have a lot of tea.

I have been sitting with my computer on my lap, obviously waiting for him to finish, but he keeps distracting me. When I was a teen my uncle Tom lived with us. He used to tease me when I was vacuuming by pulling the vacuum cleaner cord out of the electrical socket just to see my reaction. All innocent fun, distracting me. He liked to see me riled.

I’ve told Denny the vacuum cleaner cord analogy, how it applies when he distracts me from my work.

I’m not riled now, though. I’m thinking about Uncle Tom playing the guitar and singing,  “Down the road I look and there runs Mary, hair of gold and lips like cherries. It’s good to touch the green green grass of home.” He married Mary with hair of gold and lips like cherries. I remember he spent a lot of time getting ready for his first date. I particularly remember the fuzzy baby blue sweater he wore. I had never seen it before on his darkly tanned, muscular form. He worked on road construction.

I have a lot of uncles. My grandmother gave birth to one son even after I was born.

This, right here, is the reason I spent fifteen years on my first book. I get distracted. I can’t really write as long as Denny’s attention is on me. He unplugs my cord.

When I was in grade six our school built a new “open area” with dividers between grades four to six. All very modern and experimental, but terribly distracting for me. Thankfully I only had a couple of months in the open area.

I can’t block things out like Denny can. Denny has focus. He has concentration. Denny is like a rock, fixed, solid. I see myself more like water. Water moves around things. Things move around Denny. They have to.

“I’ll stop talking to you now,” Denny has an impish little boy expression that he knows I can’t resist.

He pulls out his banjo case. “I won’t talk to you anymore. I’m playing banjo.”

“I’m playing banjo,” he says softly, as if to himself, glancing at me. I’m supposed to sympathize with the difficulty he has pulling himself away from me on a Saturday morning.

Then, banjo on his lap, he’s suddenly back to his normal voice, “I have to develop seven songs and record them in the studio by the end of the month.”

Now I can start writing. Denny is working.

A few minutes later I interrupt him, “I’d love to read this to you, but it’s not going to happen.”

“I know. You have to wait till it’s all done. Fifteen years down the road. For fifteen years you can’t talk about it. You can’t even tell me the title. It will spoil everything.”

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