What I Did
On My Winter
Dr. Phage at home
Back home, I had the luxury of a house all to myself. Within limits, that is. The next door neighbors mount only small-time construction projects, nothing noisier than burying an occasional body in the back yard. My daughter Joanna comes over once a week to do her laundry. I've invited her to stay over whenever she likes, but she rarely does, mumbling something silly about the house being haunted.
My Downser son Aaron stays with me on most weekends, during which he follows a rigorous schedule of TV, video games, and playing his drum set and his electronic keyboard in the basement. I also seem to have less material housemates, who are apparently the source of Joanna's nervousness.
Ever since I first moved in, mail has been coming to my house addressed to a Mr. and Mrs. M. Jurkiewicz, previous tenants who presumably came to a bad end and neglected to inform their correspondents that they were no longer among the living. I soon noticed that doors in the house often open and close on their own; faint, tuneless humming can sometimes be heard coming from somewhere in the walls; and every now and then Aaron's synthesizer in the basement turns on by itself and launches into Chopin's Revolutionary Etude.
I haven't actually seen Mr. and Mrs. Jurkiewicz, but I picture them as an elderly couple with courtly old-world manners and impenetrable Slavic accents, floating through the walls and perhaps materializing briefly on Christmas, Shrove Tuesday, St. Andrzej's Day, and Paderewski's birthday. Aaron has no doubt long since made friends with them, and probably checked them out on the operation of his keyboard.
Mr. and Mrs. M. Jurkiewicz
I have already made my plans for next year's winter vacation. I will tell everyone ahead of time that I am going to glorious southern California, but I will actually stay in Seattle and live incognito in my own basement for five or six weeks. I can happily allow the world to go by while I lurk down there, listening to Chopin on Aaron's synthesizer, and wishing "Przyjemnego dnia" ["Have a nice day" in Polish] to the Jurkiewicz couple on the rare occasions when they become visible. The last houseguest who enjoyed a long stay in my basement ended up in the psych ward at Harborview Hospital, but could I do any worse in southern California?
--- Dr. Phage