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The Future Home of the Wymans, by Robert Lopez


I’m sorry I joked about hanging your grandmother is what the young woman next to me said to the young woman next to her. I don’t know where it is they were going, but I was on the way to see my new doctor who might refer me to someone who performs kidney transplants on an outpatient basis. The problem is I have trouble sleeping if I’m not in my own bed. I don’t know why, but I can never fall asleep or stay asleep when I try it in some other bed. Another problem is my kidneys. They don’t work anymore. My old doctor wanted to put me on dialysis, but I don’t want to walk around with anything sticking into me or running out of me. He also wanted to repair my hernia and give me a prostate exam, but I never let him down there. I also have gluten sensitivity and a peanut allergy, but there’s nothing they can do for that, apparently. Life is tough for me is what I’m saying, but I’m not alone because the last I heard nearly seventy-five percent of all citizens are now sensitive to gluten and allergic to peanuts. But I’m more concerned with getting a good night’s sleep than with my kidneys when it comes right down to it. It’s always been this way, from the time I lived with my own grandmother right next door to the future home of the Wymans. This was after my mother disappeared never to return until years later. She and my father took turns disappearing and shuttling me off to one another. But this time she sent me to my grandmother who didn’t know what to do with me, which I never blamed her for. I’ve never known what to do with myself, either. We never met the Wymans, but they were building a home next door that had a sign out front saying The Future Home of the Wymans. My grandmother sent me over there every night to see if the construction workers left anything good behind. This is the woman who more or less raised me and taught me right from left and the difference between scotch and bourbon. She also taught me how to fall asleep at night if you didn’t have enough scotch or bourbon on hand. It had to do with relaxing each part of your body in a particular order. This technique never worked for me and I think about telling this to the young woman sitting next to me but decide against it. She doesn’t need to know how I can’t fall asleep at night or how the Wymans never seemed to move into the future with everyone else. My grandmother said they were probably interred in a camp somewhere on account of their religion. We’d leave a place out for the Wymans when we set the table and then dump the trash out in their future backyard. It’s possible that these two young women are sisters and their parents are the Wymans or it’s possible they’re lifelong friends and never even heard of the Wymans. These two aren’t Tanya and my Sofia, that much is certain. But whenever I see two women together who might be sisters I can’t help but think of Tanya and my Sofia. Either way, these two on the subway have been in cahoots since they were little girls in pigtails, playing ring around the rosie or whatever it is little girls do. This is how they can joke about each other’s grandmothers. My own grandmother didn’t let me associate with little girls because she said they were the devil’s playthings. So I don’t know what little girls do now or what they did back then. I also don’t know whatever happened to my grandmother. I don’t think she ever hanged herself but I wouldn’t bet against it. By now we are close to my stop so I decide to tell all of this to the young woman next to me, but she doesn’t respond. Instead, she makes a face to her friend and then they both laugh like everyone is in on the same grandmother joke. This is when I lift my shirt up to show her the scar from my last transplant surgery, when they switched out my own liver for a better one. I tell them this is one part I can never get to relax which is why I can’t sleep at night and they both answer by telling me to keep my pants on. This is when I start laughing because I never intended to lower my pants in the first place, until at least the doctor’s office and probably not even then.


  • Robert Lopez is the author of five books of which the most recent are Good People and All Back Full. He's taught at the New School, Columbia University, Pratt Institute. Syracuse University, and the Solstice Low-Res MFA Program of Pine Manor College.

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