An Ugly Chair

Ordinary horror in the mundane

Photograph by author

The chair sits awkwardly in the shallow corner between the fireplace and the patio door (it’s a small apartment), shrouded under an ugly brown, queen-sized blanket I bought years ago on my way to a meditation retreat.

That year we had a bitterly cold winter, and the retreat center was old and drafty. Without the extra blanket, I would do more shivering than sleeping. The blanket is ratty where the material has been distressed; the fabric pinched together.

The chair sits perched on its wooden wheel-shaped base, annoyingly canted slightly to the left, like some shamed visitor hiding behind curtains. The chair and separate ottoman appear to be leather, but they are not. They were fine as long as I was renting the room on Custer. But either the extra year spent in storage, where maybe it came in contact with some airborne agent that has infected it, but now the chair is molting. Flakes of its slick, dark-brown surface continue to drop from it. The papery bits of faux leather migrate to all corners of the small studio, blown about by the ever-running ceiling fan.

The overall appearance with the loose blanket-covered chair is something that the impoverished teenager I once was, long ago, might have hauled into our neighborhood treehouse, an eyesore, threadbare, squat blanket over a tilting, molting mess of a chair. It had been free. Now it hunkers under a blanket and flakes, flakes, flakes all day. It is like a monster becoming, but becoming what? Should I uncover it? I don’t dare. When I consider it, whenever I touch the blanket, I feel only dread about unveiling it, witnessing whatever stage of degeneration the thing might be in now.

Does it have hair now? Or scales? Or the pink-mottled flesh of some unspeakable newborn thing?

It was at some point in the past a sleek-styled, modern piece of furniture. There is a lever and locking knob to adjust it to a desired angle of recline. It’s not uncomfortable. Nor is it stable. When I sit in it, its leftward cant pitches me a few degrees to the right. I shift my weight and can move it back slightly to where I don’t feel I’m about to topple out of it. It drifts, tilts, and resettles constantly. But it is, as I said, not uncomfortable.

Occasionally I think about making some intervention for it. Maybe get online and GOOGLE it’s chair symptoms, see if any armchair experts have helpful hints for how I might best arrest the chair leprosy. It is likely too late for such measures.

There is the idea of duct tape. But that proposition leaves me sad. I’d rather haul it back down the stairs and deposit it near a dumpster as so many people seem to do at this apartment complex than cover it in tacky tape.

So it sits under the blanket, slowly decomposing, depositing its flakes upon a lighter brown, dated medium shag carpet. When I enter the bathroom, I am not surprised to see the brown bits have reached the opposite end of the apartment.

The fan rustles the blanket, and I can almost hear it under there, disintegrating, shifting, becoming.

I suppose I should buy a vacuum cleaner. I’ve not lived alone in almost a decade. Maybe tomorrow I will.  

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