A Table

“What about that?” I pointed to a folded up card table in the corner of the closet in my basement. The grimy, grey-metal card table had some kind of pseudo leathery surface. I remembered it being bigger.

“Yeah, we don’t use that thing anymore. Bring it out back and ask Dad what to do with it.” My mom said, her face barely visible over the old TV in her scratched up hands. She took few things more seriously than spring cleaning.

I hastily grabbed the table and followed the TV upstairs and out the back door, and I placed the table on the ground next to the pile of old toys, games, and assorted junk. My brother poised triumphant over the crushed cardboard boxes. My sister stood to the side, texting her gaggle of shopping buddies. My dad walked around from the back of the car to see what I found.

“Oh that’s junk. Leave it out front next to those chairs we’re getting rid of. Someone will take it.” He took the TV from my mom and put it in the trunk of the car next to outgrown clothes and anything else worth donating to the Salvation Army.

As I started to walk away with the table, he called out.

“Hey, wait a second. Do you remember playing the ‘Secret Agents’ game?” It had been at least thirteen years, but twenty-year-old-I had not forgotten.

“Agents, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to go downstairs and rotate the wash. Agent One will bring up the clean clothes from the dryer. Agent Two will move the wash to the dryer. Agent Three will put the basket of towels in the washing machine and run it.”

The three kids and their footie pajamas barely all fit underneath the folding card table sitting in the middle of the living room. One had his thumb and pinky held to the side of his head, listening intently to the man sitting in the chair next to the table. The agent smiled. Laundry? That’s all? He and his two cohorts had made themselves hot dogs in the microwave; they’d braved the outdoors to take out the trash; they had even run up the stairs, through the bedrooms, and down the back stairs in fifteen seconds flat. They could handle laundry.

“We accept!”

He hung up the phone against the under-side of the table’s surface, relayed the orders, and the three raced each other down to the basement.

The man sitting in the chair watched them leave. He smirked at his wife and the pile of folded shirts, and asked her why their parents hadn’t ever tried to make chores this fun.