HISTORY

“I don’t know,” said Tiber’s friend. “I think they’re great. They have a pool! In their yard!”

“Yes, I remember being your age,” I said sadly, hoping to impart some tiny wisp of my accumulated wisdom to the child. “O, how joyous were the balmy, blossomy days of my misspent youth…”

“You’re fourteen,” said Julia, who had cruelly sneaked up behind me.

(Who Loves Octavia Pranddishaw?, Chapter One)

By some unknown device, the Pranddishaws appeared in the real world, dressed in the casual-circa-1963 clothing they might have worn in the novel if Stark had ever bothered to describe their clothes. Severely disoriented and confused, they wandered as a pack through the streets of the city for hours or days (they can never agree on which) until Octavia knocked on a door at random one sunny weekend midmorning.

The door (of a four-bedroom, two-bathroom student home) was opened, eventually, by one of the graduate students living there. This is something all the Pranddishaws agree on, despite the foggy and dreamlike qualities of their memories of the event.

When describing happened immediately after this, however, no two Pranddishaws give quite the same story. Certainly somehow they talked or forced their way indoors. And someone suggested what the family do with the former tenants of their new home. It must have taken at least two Pranddishaws, or more if the children were involved, to hold the students down while another Pranddishaw hacked them into pieces with the carpentry tools one of the students happened to own. Cleaning up all the blood was surely a Herculean task. Wrapping the body parts in black plastic garbage bags and throwing them out, a little at a time, should have been too clever an idea for the fogged Pranddishaw minds to come up with.

But somehow, each member of the Pranddishaw family afterwards remembered only standing by, watching in mute horror as his or her loved ones overpowered and casually murdered four innocent people, then dismembered and disposed of their remains. The memories were as distant as they were disquieting, like a bad dream.

The Pranddishaws also remember their clothing (or rather, everyone else’s clothing, since each Pranddishaw is convinced he or she sat out the slaughter, and thus remained clean) becoming covered in blood over the course of this activity. When it was done, however, their outdated garments were all as clean as the moment they’d entered the house.

That sleepless night, the family argued and debated, finally sloughing off the haze and waking fully to consciousness. Julia, the eldest child, assumed a leadership role around 4 AM, and tabled the issue of who had just committed mass murder and who had merely been an accessory to mass murder.

The second item of new business, to wit, how the family had arrived at their current location, sparked a revelation: none of the Pranddishaws could remember certain basic details of their lives, like what they had done for a living, their home address or telephone number, et cetera. Nor were any of them certain just what the date was, or the name of the President.

Eventually the family achieved a consensus on future plans, and accepted Julia’s suggestion that they sit tight and lie low for the near future. In the morning, Ulysses (who, the family decided, had the best telephone voice), coached by Julia, called the students’ landlord (the number being fortuitously next to the phone) and explained that the students had moved out unexpectedly and the Pranddishaws would be assuming the lease.

To the family’s surprise, the landlord accepted the story without reservation or question. Likewise, no relatives, friends, or employers ever tried to call or visit the students. A few months after the night of the move-in/slaughter, Julia tried to call one of the students’ parents, the number having been written, like the landlord’s, next to the telephone. The elderly couple she reached had the right names, but claimed to be childless.

To get rid of all the students’ things, the Pranddishaws had a yard sale.


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