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Jeffery Doty


In the closet that is under the staircase, adjacent to the living room in the house I grew up in, is a stack of old tin cans that contain home movies. My dad used to drag these cans, and the old movie projector that was my grandfather’s, out of the closet, and we would watch the soundless, moving images projected against a white wall, and we would listen to the clicking of the projector and the sound of the air being sucked in by the fan. And my dad’s voice.
It seemed like there was always an ordeal first, though. The closet under the staircase is very narrow, and because it is under the staircase, it drastically diminishes in height, starting off at nine feet and finishing off, or course, at a thirty degree angle. So moving around in there was a hunchbacked pain. And, according to my dad, every time he wanted something of his out of the closet, it was buried underneath piles of my mom’s stuff--probably some paints, a hot glue gun, some old broken appliances someone was supposed to fix, and scraps for a quilt she was going to make. It would be perfectly normal for him to rant and rave for fifteen minutes while digging around and moving stuff before he exited the small cramped closet angry, empty-handed, and feeling claustrophobic. Yeah, my dad claims he’s claustrophobic. Says he can’t wear turtlenecks.
So he’d be frustrated and about to have a fit, with a vein protruding from the middle of his forehead, breathing hard and thinking that he just might have suffocated had he stayed in that death trap of a tight turtleneck closet one second longer, and he’d gain enough air to holler at Mom, who would dutifully go into the closet and come out almost immediately with what he wanted. I’m sure that before I was born, he had been dumbfounded, and he’d asked her where it was hidden, how she had found it, and how he had missed it. But now, after so many years, he graciously takes his lost items into his arms, without question, and says, “Oh, thank you very much.”Well, every couple of months, feeling nostalgic and sentimental, he would set the projector up after dinner, along