Tuesday, August 5, 2008

House Arrest

I grew up in my family’s brownstone house on East 10th Street. It was really white brick and one of about five adjacent houses, referred to as Doctor’s Row as all the owners were physicians as was my father. He had an office on the first floor and we lived above the office. One night we were having dinner when the doorbell rang, what seemed a demanding way. My father said, "I’ll get it. It’s probably a patient who’s come to the wrong floor. When he opened the door, there stood a policeman, a big, tall man. I wasn’t frightened because a policeman could need my father’s help, too. But he spoke in a gruff voice and demanded that my father take him to the basement. Gently, my father asked, "What is this about?" The policeman didn’t answer gently, but rather like some of the bullies at my school. There was some further talk and my father went out of the door with him. My sister and I began to cry. My mother tried to soothe us, "You’re father is a very smart man. He’ll take care of the situation." I was scared but I remember a feeling of disappointment that my father could be bullied.
My mother cuddled us until my father returned about twenty minutes later, chuckling. Someone had reported that there was a dead man in our basement. "It’s about that skeletal model that we brought home from Germany that I plan to use for my anatomy course at the hospital." The janitor had come across it and spread the rumor that there was a dead man in our basement. Until he left us, we gave the specimen a name, "Joe", and the friendly policeman would ask us how Joe was doing and saw to it that those bullies never came near us.

1 comment:

Marc said...

This is one of my favorites. It brings back a memory to when I was in medical school and I and a few others wanted to get an edge on the exam, so we coaxed one of the anatomy lab assistants to give us a (human) heart. We brought it to my house and studied it. Then, my friends left, and I was stuck with the thought of how to get rid of this human heart. Even at that time, I thought of the story of my grandfather and the skeleton in his closet. Only I had a heart under my sink!