Other Timelines: The Chair

other timelines esp sour cream

By Big 'Vic' Proton

It's Other Timelines week on AOA, in which we'll be looking at alternate histories of this place, about big and small things that did or did not happen.

BVP has been dropping delightfully weird, tiny stories in the comments here at AOA for years, so we thought it'd be fun to have him write a few super short stories based on this week's alternate history theme.

My ex-wife, Olga, has moved to another dimension.

I found this out when she called and said she wanted me to bring her chair over.

Although it's a four-story hump down the narrow winding steps of my building, I was elated.

Downtown Albany BID alternate history-in-post ad

ACCVB alternate history in-post ad

FOGS alternate history in-post ad

CDPHP in-post ad

MHHS alternate history in-post ad

She'd bought the chair back when we were married and living on Lark Street. She found it at the Salvation Army in Gloversville where she likes to hang out at a hotdog joint next door. A bunch of the ex-pat Russian set like to meet there and eat wieners while they plot to take over the world, or whatever it is they are doing.

The chair is a mammoth gold atrocity of plastic, velvet, and imitation wood that should have been put to death at birth. It weighs about 80 pounds. Each arm has carved golden lion heads jutting out where they can crack a knee perfectly. The lions have eyes that light up red from a device that senses when someone sits down.

"Is perfect!" she said.

She made me sit on the chair until she paid and got a receipt; she was afraid someone else would claim it. "Too many Slavs around, want chair too. Don't move!"

The eyes shorted out while I was waiting. Olga went back and negotiated another $5 off the chair. The final cost was $5.

With the chair back at our Lark Street apartment, Olga's life had peaked, especially after I wired it up to a remote so we could turn the eyes on and off from across the room.

"It will never get any better than this," she moaned. She sat up all night in the chair, chain smoking and eating blinis with sour cream, remotely turning the eyes on and off, while she gazed at herself in the mirror on the bathroom door.

A month later she was gone. She left a note, but it was in Cyrillic, which I can't read except for the swear words. I kept it in a pocket close to my heart. I even bought pajamas with a chest pocket just to have it there. Finally, I brought it to down to the Russian church. A babushka read it for me.

"She must have been tormented," I said.

"Is list. Must get potato, sour cream, battery, hair dye, cigarette," read the babushka. "Also subscription for National Enquirer."

I wept. Sour cream!

Nobody would take the chair. I tried giving it away on Craigslist but only Nigerians responded. I called the Salvation Army and they came out and looked at the chair and told me not to call again.

Finally, I lugged it downstairs and brought it back to the Salvation in Gloversville and left it in the parking lot at night. The next morning the Gloversville police were pounding on my door with nightsticks. They had brought the chair back and said a "shoot-on-sight" order had been issued if I was ever seen in Gloversville city limits again.

Finally, I lugged it downstairs and brought it back to the Salvation in Gloversville and left it in the parking lot at night. The next morning the Gloversville police were pounding on my door with nightsticks. They had brought the chair back and said a "shoot-on-sight" order had been issued if I was ever seen in Gloversville city limits again.

So I was ecstatic to hear Olga's voice again on my voice mail.

"Darling, is Olga. You bring chair, Tuesday my new house. 11:17 pm. Not earlier! 43 Lancaster Street. Pakah!"

Tuesday night I loaded up the chair and drove down to 43 Lancaster Street. I hadn't been there before. It was really nice, like Lark but plenty of parking and more old trees. Olga met me on the street in front of her building, a wonderful old brownstone. She looked great in her tiger-print Juicy Couture track suit.

"You want me to bring it up?" I asked her. Maybe the chair was just an excuse to get back together.

"No. I can do. Strong like Russian bear! Ha-ha!"

"I miss you, Olga."

"Oh, you dumb."

She kissed me on the cheek, ruining my good white shirt with her industrial lip gloss, then picked up the chair and wrestled it into the building.

On the way home I noticed the lion eyes remote control on the floor of the car. I decided to drive back. I also picked up a jar of sour cream. Olga can't resist sour cream. She'd definitely invite me up.

Driving back down Lancaster Street, I got to #109 and a marble wall in front of me. The Plaza! I tried driving around it to see if 43 Lancaster was on the other side but it wasn't there either. Just an empty street into a parking garage.

I got out of the car by the Capitol building and walked out onto the marble to where I thought Olga's building was. It's a reflecting pool in front of The Egg now.

"You too, huh?"

I turned and found a stooped old man in a slouched hat walking a decrepit dachshund on a piece of string.

"What?"

"You come to recognize them after a while. It's the little things," he said pointing at my hand. "You don't see many people walking around here in the middle of the night carrying sour cream."

"You come to recognize them after a while. It's the little things," he said pointing at my hand. "You don't see many people walking around here in the middle of the night carrying sour cream."

"You don't?"

"Mamma lives right there," he said, pointing at the reflecting pool across from the museum. "228 Hamilton Street. Spent her whole life on that street. Rockefeller came and knocked it down personally to build his palace. She was so happy when she could move back. It's nice there. Quiet. She's one hundred and twenty-three years old now. Doesn't look a day over a 97, if you ask me."

"You were there?"

"This is her dog. Bruno. Been walking him for nine years now."

"That long."

"She never did like this dog," said the man as they limped off into the night.

I lay by the pool until security came and took my ID. I wouldn't tell them why I was there. A small robot was used to "contain" the sour cream in a secure manner. After a frisking, fingerprinting, a breathalyzer, a hair sample, a retina scan, several interviews, and a check of my credit score, I was allowed to return home.

The apartment is so empty now.

Big 'Vic' Proton was born in Vermont and has been trying to return ever since. In this dimension, he is happily living in Troy with his Russian wife and her big gold chair.

More from Other Timelines
+ What would Albany be like today if the Empire State Plaza had not been built?
+ Other Timelines drawing: What's a local "what if" question that you'd love to know the answer to?
+ Six huge institutions that set up here... almost
+ The Portal
+ A brief history of the Capital Region's much-admired light rail system
+ 4th of July
+ Pivotal moments in our personal histories

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