By Riley Winchester

The Broken Door List

I was in the kitchen filling an ice cube tray with water when I heard the front door being ripped apart. I went to the front door and saw it coming undone from the bottom up. On the other side I could see the undoers. There was a little girl, maybe three years of age, and a young mother, maybe in her early twenties. They kept ripping and ripping my door up and apart, even when I politely asked them to stop. And I didn’t want to step in and become confrontational—after all, the girl was only three and looked to be having good fun. After my door was undone and ripped out of its frame I walked through where it used to be and followed the young mother and child. “Excuse me,” I said. They kept walking. I followed them up the stairs of our apartment complex. At the top of the stairs they turned into the first room on the right and sat in front of a TV. I noticed there were holes all over the walls, like punch wounds, and their front door was missing, but it looked like its undoing had been even more violent than mine. “Hey,” I said, “so you think by ripping off my door that will just fix your door somehow? Well, I have news for you, that’s not how it works, not doors or anything of the sort.” “Excuse me,” said a tall man with a toolbelt as he slipped past me. “Ma’am,” he said, “I’m here to fix your door now. Your building reached its quota of broken doors and your name was first on the list.” Later, I caught the tall man leaving the apartment building. “How many names are on the list?” I asked. “What list?” “The broken door list.” “Oh,” he said, “that list. Uh, I think right now there’s nineteen people ahead of you.” He gave me a nod and walked away. “That’s a lot of doors,” I said.

Ghost Stories with My Grandpa

My grandpa told me the story about how he met my grandma. He and his good friend Ed Lysy were set to go on a double date with Alice Betts and her good friend my grandma. But none of the four had ever met—the dates were set up by friends of coworkers of neighbors—and as they were walking to the diner where the date was, my grandpa suggested to Ed that they switch places: Ed with Alice, my grandpa with my grandma. “Sure,” Ed said, “sounds fun.” So my grandpa became Ed and vice versa. The date went well. Everybody got along; the food was ambrosia Americana; the server was a nice old lady named Margaret; and in the next booth over there was a boy celebrating his sixth birthday with his dad and mom and nine sisters. After the date the new couples went their separate ways. It was on the third date that the game was over, my grandpa came clean and said he wasn’t Ed. But my grandma didn’t care. She relearned his name and they got married fourteen months later. On the day of their thirty-seventh anniversary my grandma said to my grandpa, “I’m leaving you for Ed. I was meant to be with him anyway.” “OK,” my grandpa said, “Ed does well for himself. Retired banker and unmarried. That all makes sense,” and he went back to reading the Sunday comics. He was in the middle of one about a boy who didn’t want to go to school anymore but his parents wouldn’t let him stop going. Ed died one day or another and my grandma came knocking on my grandpa’s door. She said she wanted him back. Ed was a mistake and he’s dead. “No, sorry. I’m happier now more than ever,” my grandpa said, and he politely shut the door in her face. My grandpa went back into the dining room, sat down at the round oak table he had varnished earlier that day, and took a sip of salted beer. “Who was that?” asked Ed Lysy. “Oh, nobody,” my grandpa said, “just some kids selling God again.”

Riley Winchester lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He recently graduated from Grand Valley State University, where he earned a B.A. in History. His writing has appeared in Writing Disorder, Waymark, and Adelaide.

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