Below is Part 5 of 23 monthly installments for Visitant.
Forget glamorous hair, swirl of curls, pearls, and rosebuds topped with baby’s breath. For the June contest cover of Bridal Guide magazine, Jena and Bea learn their artist friend Agnes Person has submitted not one, but two entries: Before, a bowl of dates, and After, a leather bridle.
Brava, but marriage isn’t only harness, Jena argues during their late afternoon phone call about you-know-who.
Sssh, interjects Bea. Her head is pounding, but she hears or, rather, fears, whimpers at the back door.
Unbeknownst to Bea, Agnes has left a little bundle of short-legs, sleepy eyes, and puppy tail in the boot box, kindling basket, forgotten wreath. Whatever. Smiling she pauses and listens to Bea inside on the phone.
Jena’s chatter drifts to discount welcome mats, 100% jute. What a waste of Third World hemp, says Bea, meaning mary jane.
Suppressing a giggle, Agnes tiptoes down Bea’s porch steps and heads across town with a second warm bundle of love for Jena.
Say, Jena, that shag rug you gave Agnes? Bea inquires.
Under her stoop, bedding for that muttsy litter, snaps Jena. Strapped with a hefty mortgage, she envies the cozy 1 br walkup Agnes sublets from an absentee owl.
But what’s Agnes going to do with all those puppies?
Bea veers off-subject. You know dreamboat Chef Davide, who teaches my pastry course? Well, while class watches the Black Forest rise, he suggests fixing Agnes up with his cousin, Art Kraft, a vegan. Childhood visions frightened the guy off meat.
Kindred spirits, thinks Jena.
Well, I invited Agnes, and we three waited for her in the park. Agnes shows in painter’s smock and felt beret. Palette over left thumb, she sets up her hibachi and easel. After the introductions, Chef Davide ankles.
Shifting the phone, Bea puts up her feet, takes her sweet time. Agnes, she tells Jena, set up her easel, melted the encaustic, and layered Art’s portrait in scented wax. A good but lumpy likeness. Blue-green, red-brown.
Hmm, hyphenated colors. Art must be ethnic American. But why the scent?
To help Art’s aura. Blue-green for spruce—the needling whiff that keeps on giving. Red-brown like cedar chest—rest, roost, cone growth from peg-like stem cells.
He bolted, poor guy. Agnes was right. He needed tisane to relax.
Some afternoon, Bea.
Didn’t end there, Jen. The scented wax attracted quite a crowd, but Agnes was easel-ready with 8” x 12” canvas boards.
Matching odors with zodiac signs, she knocked out portraits for twenty-five bucks a pop. By the time I left, WZBH news arrived with cameramen, and people were choosing smells for each other.
Wow, a happening!
How our Agnes pays off her credit cards.
Jena hangs up moments before she and Bea each register the back-door scratch and whine that will consume the next nine months of their lives.
Bea later dubs the interlude Puddle Time.
Pee, Jen bitches, scooping up worse in wet newspaper.
Agnes bides their peevishness, and drops by with scented candles, doggie treats, and just enough gossip to keep the pups from the pound.
[image: Scarlet Gloves | Cathy Hegman]