When Uncle Davis passed away, we hung his hunting rifle in the parlor. We put up a shelf for his pipe and his spectacles. Together, the artifacts composed a triptych of our departed uncle. The fine smells, the mounted elk heads, his Sunday morning crossword, all things he carried with him on his person, were his remains, a fond tribute after his inevitable passing. Aunt Tabby is a solid woman but my mother keeps circling the parlor asking what’s to be done about her. She says we cannot hang her television remote or her novelty ash tray or her acrylic nails on the wall. People would say things. I ask her if people don’t say things about keeping Uncle Davis in a separate room entirely, but she says her brother makes a much better coatrack than he does a table.

Until the dog goes, Aunt Tabby will have to remain where she is. If my mother wants to quibble with our taxidermy she’s more than welcome to, but in the future she better plan her accessories first. Dad’s fishing pole was a fine relic after he passed out of the parlor, and the curl of his fingers made for a perfect umbrella stand. That’s how you plan ahead. If she wanted classier mementos for Aunt Tabby, we could have moved her to the garage weeks ago. We need a new step ladder. But we can’t get her in there until we have something suitable for the wall, next to grandpa’s knife and grandma’s snuff box. We respect the dead in this house, my mother says, and reminds me to use a coaster for my drink.

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