Page 4 - The.Unobstructed.Universe
P. 4

"I went to the end of the cross-town line--I thought I might as 

well--prepared to walk the five blocks to my shop. At the end of the line 
there's a big department store--I almost NEVER shop there. I hadn't been 
there for years. But I thought I'd walk through it to the Avenue instead 

of going around by the side street. I'd hardly got inside when I caught 
sight of a red box being trundled off on a floor truck along with a load 
of other stuff. No reason why I should be interested in red boxes, but I 

just HAD to chase after that one. And was I disappointed when the truck 
got away from me down an elevator! I even hunted up a floorman and shot a 
volley of questions at him. He told me the box must have been one of the 

Chinese chests they had been having a special sale on; and he directed me 
to what they had left. They were good-sized camphorwood chests, covered 
with pigskin and painted with various designs and colors. I went and 

bought one," said Joan bitterly.

"Weren't they attractive?" I asked, puzzled by the bitterness.

"They were most attractive," she admitted. "But I have camphorwood 

chests. And"--her voice rose in emphasis--"in all this house there's not 
a place where I could put another camphorwood chest--or any other piece 
of furniture for that matter--without everybody's falling over it every 

time he went from here to there. I have about as much use for a 
camphorwood chest as Tabs has for two tails!" Tabs being the family cat.

Darby and I shouted.

"That isn't the worst," said Joan.

We became quiet, in expectation.

"You see," said Joan, who was now beginning to enjoy her own narration, 
"none of the chests was red. The one I bought was yellow. And that red 
color--the color of the first one I saw, on the truck--somehow I couldn't 

get that particular shade of red out of my mind. No, said the salesman, 
the merchandise on the truck was all sold goods. No, there were no more 
red ones. You'd think that would have satisfied me, wouldn't you? Not at 

all. I insisted they must have a reserve; I insisted on seeing the 
department manager; and finally I elicited that there WAS a reserve, but 
I couldn't see it. Just the same, I kept at them, and I DID see it--they 

must have thought me crazy! And there was a red one. And I bought that! I 
bought two of the dratted things! Now I ask you! And tomorrow they'll be 
out here in Orange Center cluttering up everything! Well, they'll go back 

bright and early Monday morning, I can tell you that I can't IMAGINE what 
got into me!"

Neither could we--not until the third evening. Nor will you--not until 
the third chapter.




ABOUT six months before Joan bought her two unwanted Chinese boxes in New 
York--at eight o'clock, on the fifth of April, 1939, in a little foothill 
town of California, my wife Betty died. And immediately I had gone out of 

the house to face the overhanging mountains and my own emotional and


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