Daniel Uncapher: Stairways (Essay)

Southern Legitimacy Statement:  Born in Maine but raised in Water Valley, Mississippi, the deep south is the only place I’ll ever understand, and I still don’t know the first thing about it.


I take the elevator to the funeral instead of the stairs, which is pretty unusual for me.

My doctor warned me about that kind of thing; I’m to call her if I find myself doing anything unusual.

I can’t say why I took the elevator. I prefer the stairs in every way. The stability, the certainty, the solitude. Yes, I prefer the stairs. So why am I being weird and taking the elevator?

Everyone says he was too young to go. 27 is too young, they said. Of course 27 had been the whole joke with him. My doctor specifically warned me about making those kinds of jokes anymore. I’m not to joke about that kind of thing anymore, not now that it runs in my blood. This makes me the victim of someone else’s crime—I wasn’t the one who ate all the pills.

My doctor takes everything I say in great esteem these days. I suppose I don’t blame her. I have been acting odd. I have my reasons. The hardest part of it was dragging his limp body up the brick steps and the sound his head made as it hit each corner, which was basically no sound at all, and then to have been too late anyway.

It reminds me of that old joke about buying a burial plot—“that’s the last thing I need!”—but I’m not supposed to joke about that kind of thing anymore. My doctor said that joking about that kind of thing is a really unusual thing to do, and I’m to report any unusual behavior at once.