When Professor Albright retired at the turn of the 21st century, his favorite students helped him load his car. Two of the college boys carried out the antique yellowed skeleton in a seated position with an arm around each of their necks and his head bobbing goodbye to the young folks lining the hall.
Old Bones, as he was called by generations of students, cost the Professor two hundred and ten dollars in 1961, he reminded them, not even counting what it cost to cover his wife’s revenge shopping. “To this day when I look at her little fur jacket, I blame Old Bones,” he laughed.
They folded Old Bones in the back seat of the professor’s small car, and put a Mets cap on his head. Just before the car door closed, a coed lit a cigarette and put it in Old Bones’ teeth.
The cigarette was still smoking and had a perilously long ash when the professor opened the car door in front of his house. Half a dozen students had followed him in their own cars and were tumbling around for the honor of bringing Old Bones home.
Mrs. Albright wore her little fur jacket for the occasion and had beer and pretzels for the students at a little table on the lawn. It was still a chill May morning but school was over for the year and everyone took a beer.
“Put Bones in the front room, on the settee,” said Professor Albright.
“Oh no,” said Mrs. Albright. “Put him in the basement.”
There was a clatter of bones as the students pivoted around.
“Put him on the lawn chair for now,” said Professor Albright.
Mrs. Albright covered her mouth with her silken hand.
The students arranged Old Bones on the lawn chair, and put a beer can in his pliant long-fingered hand. His head bobbed down in his baseball cap.
“It’s months until Halloween,” Mrs. Albright said, hugging her fur jacket and staring at Old Bones.
“Put Bones back in the car, front seat,” said the Professor. “You can sit in the back, dear, your legs are shorter.”
“I’ll sit on his lap,” Mrs. Albright fluttered, bumping her taut bottom in the skeleton’s direction.
The beer can hit the grass as Old Bones raised his hand in the air for attention. His head clabbered back against the lawn chair, tilting his baseball cap over one eye socket. When everyone was looking at the skeleton, who was glazed with gold in the sunshine, he pointed both his thumbs down toward the grass.
The Professor sighed. “He prefers the basement, dear.”
Mrs. Albright smiled at the skeleton. Old Bones motioned for another beer.
Ronni Sandroff writes micro fiction about the human comedy. Her short stories have appeared in McSweeney’s, Redbook, Cosmopolitan and Prairie Schooner.
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