If you were to ask me to remember that house, my mind would flash with nothing more than the afterimage of the first two floors, an upper patio laid with slats of brown wood, and a lower level built in at a lower elevation. The backyard I remember seeing only through a slit in the basement: a rectangular viewport into a horizontal strip of crisp, cold branches and the flakes of snow falling softly in an infinite loop. It never snowed once when I was there, only in my imaginings stirred up from my grandfather’s words on the telephone. His words came out among the silence of the telephone receiver, with enough silence between exchanges to hear the faint ambiance through the line like an unending exhalation. A bear had traipsed into the backyard, climbed up the pole to swirl his tongue into the sugary red water in the birdfeeder. Bears, deer, and other creatures trod through the thicket of branches in the slat in the basement, always out of view. The basement was pressed so low to the ground, all sounds of the television and our voices sank to the earth and were muffled by the top two floors pushing down on us. The first floor was just between two lines making a zig-zag to the upper level. The wooden steps reached far up to meet the soles of your feet while light from the window in the front door poured in over the steps. Looking up the stairs to second floor, only the ceiling could be seen, flecked with brittle flakes of plaster. Up there, voices could be heard. The top of stairs yielded only to the wide open living room space. A round, undecorated table centered in the square kitchen. High ceilings that slanted up to the point of the roof. The wide sliding double-pane glass door, saturated with the cold grey air above the unpainted asphalt road not seen but intuited beneath the view of the patio. Back down there, where the light lay lower and limited by the glass slat peering into the backyard and nullified, seeping through the heavy cloth curtains, our section of the room divided by an aluminum frame curtained by a vinyl sheet. He was encased in the sheets, a tent of flesh held taut by cartilage and bone, surrounded by the grainy whisper from the telephone receiver, lacking enough conductivity to reestablish the connection. His exhalations unending, unable to intuit the right moment to reply but waiting for the signal to end the conversation and hang up the line for good. Peppy had done something, but I forget what. Things are getting hard to remember without Virginia around. Her incessant knitting had laid the foundation for some kind of order. Some kind of point or space between the living room and the kitchen and the bathroom and the bedroom was missing or forgotten, couldn’t remember which, not sure if there was anything even to remember in that bracket shaped floor plan tucked away in the corner of that cul de sac in Pincher Creek, but at least that stupid mutt knew how to close the front door. Then he was gone, too, and he brought the pointillist portrait of him to the house and they kept it in the corner of what used to be my bedroom. This isn’t it, this isn’t Doug’s house, I know what Doug’s house looks like. “I’ll bet your dessert that this is the house.” There’s something funny going on around here. Go on, bring out the cameras, I know what you’re up to. The affability my family gave him only left him more confused and afraid, aware of what was happening in his mind and slowly giving up the fight, but waiting for someone outside of himself to give him the old cold blunt Davis truth, the only form of love he knew how to give, the kind of love so efficient and empathetic that it forewent all nuances of the heart and got right down to the nitty gritty and forced you to see and confront the truth and hopefully taught you something. Thirty-something grandkids playing in front of the sparkling green Christmas tree in the living room with the fireplace where his five granddaughters grew up, and he unwrapped at least the fifth plaid flannel sweater that night, because what else can you give a guy who is so far gone that even the TV doesn’t make sense anymore. Day in and day out, it was the routine that finally immobilized him one day when he decided he just didn’t want to get up anymore. No, I’m not hungry. I read that book once, I think. I farted and his caretaker said it was the first time he had laughed like that in a long time. Boy you’re ugly, he told my dad. This is one weird family, said as an aside to no one but himself against the whole affable bunch of cast members posing as his family. The crass, cynical humor that ran through my family, that I suspected but hadn’t yet comprehended, was finally revealing its origins just so soon as the chapter was coming to a close. At the funeral, the family revealed small pieces of lore that only barely helped connect the dots for ourselves, scattered throughout that bare, dry forest of memory, just out of our range of vision from that rectangular viewport, out there left to rust somewhere long after the snow stopped falling and began melting back into the soil that we might one day walk through.