In an anxious stepping dream, a scruffy old pup (three-legged) said “Thank you” into my ear as I held his hand on the stairs. Down a flight (in the waiting room), all of the seats were peopled with cutouts except one that held my brother, arisen. Thrice as real as the cutouts and more real than I, he held my eye and beckoned in silence for me to come near. On his lap was an open book, and he bade me bend down so he could whisper into my ear. “We were adopted”, he said, though I knew it to be false. He pointed to a passage on a page, but I gave it no heed. Leading me by the hand, he took me to a heavy wooden door. The cutouts bowed forward and collapsed. As we opened it, the door creaked as if not having been opened for a very long time. Dust fell upon his cufflinked wrist. Inside, the smell of toast and peanut butter and dirty ashtrays. My In-Laws- Mom and Dad in their threadbare penury, bent over a broken coffeemaker, its circuits spread out on clean linen next to medical instruments. They were crying because they did not know how to repair it. I picked up the scalpel and set to work, but Brother stayed my hand. I nodded, disturbed, while he took it apart completely and built it back in a new design. Mom and Dad looked to each other and smiled, wiping their tears.
In a dim corner, on a doily-clad table, lay the three-legged pup, who looked up and wagged his tail.