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"My Side of the Bed" - by Lisa Sergienko 

Lisa is in international logistics and lives in Southeast Virginia.


© 2007 Lisa Sergienko


Wallace had his side of the bed; the side that answered midnight phone calls, early morning doorbells, and let the dog out when it whined. Everyone has his or her side of the bed.

I'm territorial about my side.

After I found out that Wallace's file clerk inhabited it while I was on a business trip, I called my best friend Susan. She came over with a sage bundle and salt water. She chanted something Celtic, set off the smoke alarm, and then helped me wrestle the mattress set out of the condo and into a waiting U-Haul. I dislike abandoning the truly useful.

If at any point I thought leaving Wallace was rash, I disabused myself of that notion when Susan and I pulled the U-Haul up to my new apartment in Little Belgrade. I'd viewed the property on a Sunday morning and it was dead quiet. How was I to know that Bojan's Bakery, over which my new home rested, had outdoor tables inhabited by a fair number of broad-shouldered dark-haired young men drinking Turkish coffee and playing cards?

I learned then that nothing that stirs the heart and testosterone of a young Old World man like the sight of two pasty youngish women struggling to move a bedding set up a steep flight of stairs. Mirko and Stanko and Slavko called their cousins Branko and Darko and Dusan, and offered their services. The mattress barely fit through the door. It barely fit into the bedroom. The guys set up the bedstead and wedged the whole thing tight up against the wall. Then they moved up everything else. I called for a few pizzas. Susan made a beer run. We delivered it all to the tables at the bakery and the guys left, refusing any cash.

Susan took the van back to the rental joint and I started unpacking. About nineish I got a knock on the door. A housewarming bottle of slivovitz and a bed warming shot of Dusan - which was how it all began. At first he would only stop by on Saturdays for an hour or so. Then it was Sunday afternoons too. I'd squeeze fresh orange juice for mimosas. I learned how to make Turkish coffee. Pastries arrived still warm from downstairs.

When he took me out to the local disco on a Friday night I officially became "the girl". Not many Anglos get that far in Little Belgrade. It gave him sleepover rights; rights which he took to mean that he could sleep on my side of the bed, so I could get up first and make the coffee and run downstairs for breakfast bread. He also got clubhouse rights to my living room for the Sunday game when fall rolled around. And he got the right for me to take him to Nordies for a couple of cashmere sweaters to replace the pilled Orlon ones that were likely an inheritance from his dad.

But the sack time was fantastic, and he liked women with big asses. It was an ego stroke of the most necessary kind. He bought groceries for me to cook when he was going to stay over and replaced my vacuum cleaner and coffee machine with top of the line models. All I needed was an Ambien before bed to render the discomfort of not being on my side of the bed moot, and a Valium on Sunday afternoons if their team was losing.

By playoffs time it was two Valium. In March I doubled the Ambien. Dermatologists, third generation Albanian-American Presbyterians, who wore Ralph Lauren polo shirts, got the building next-door as part of a lawsuit settlement, put bars and Plexiglas in all the windows, and set up shop. I dubbed the alleyway Little Kosovo.

Slavs and guns; they go together like hot apple pie and a slice of Vermont cheddar.

Bullets make interesting vectors off stone and Plexiglas and -- especially when it hits thin aluminum siding and stops in manflesh. Sometimes it's a good thing to give in about sleeping arrangements. You never know where you'll end up. I fished out the old cubic zirconia engagement ring leftover from Wallace, and slipped it on before the police and Mirko and Stanko and Slavko and their cousins Branko and Darko arrived on the scene.

Saint Sava's took up a collection to buy me a TempurPedic. Dusan's priest came over with a censer and holy water and chanted something in Slavonic. His wife brought six hundred thread count linens, and a couple of goosedown pillows. My new brothers and cousins put up a piece of Plexiglas. I converted. I don't cook much any more. The wives cook. The bread is hot and free. My ass gets wider. I sleep on my side of the bed.






All work is copyrighted property of Lisa Sergienko.





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