Doors Behind Doors by Michael J. Solender
It mattered not how long I stared at the knob, it failed to turn and I failed equally in my understanding of why that mattered. I rose from my chair. It was a chair weathered from many prior sittings, likely none with the puzzlement of its current accommodation.
Fine craftsmanship was exhibited in this chair. It was the type of chair with the raised section between the assumed position of the occupant’s buttocks.
“Father,” I quietly called in a barely audible whisper, unsure at that moment if he remained in the room.
First clockwise then counterclockwise the brass knob began to rotate. With its circumnavigation of the tiny axis, the initial barrier I faced would be removed.
I entered the unlit chamber where my father sat unshaven, alongside a Victorian writing desk. Two sheets of unlined paper before him, the shadows, long from the waning afternoon light through the pair of rectangular windows.
“Your grandfather may be willing to see you after a time,” Father said, absent emotion. He was not one for hyperbole or histrionics.
I sat in the only other chair in the room, a mate to my previous resting place. The cool wood and centered ridgeline in the seat felt refreshing between my legs.
“Grandfather?” I called out after a time, perhaps an hour. Father had fallen asleep at the desk and I began to stare at the brass knob on the door behind him.
There was no response immediately but I managed to wake Father who seemed mildly annoyed. Not at my waking him, but at his falling asleep.
“I could explain it all, but I’ve forgotten, your grandfather will help you to understand,” Father was deliberate in his speech and pursed his lips when he said the words “explain” and “grandfather.” He folded himself back into his chair after half rising and motioned at the door, the knob turning slightly.
I rose to greet the half-opened door, leaving Father to rest and found Grandfather shuffling from the door back to a small writing desk. There were no chairs in the room and Grandfather motioned for me to sit on the floor. I did and he remained standing.
“I’m not sure I can explain so you’ll understand,” he said, stopping to consult a leather bound book on his desk. He turned and stared for a moment at the door over his shoulder.
I caught his gaze when he turned back towards me.
“Will Great-grandfather know?” I asked.
He looked down into his book. I looked at the door.
After a while, the knob began to turn.