Below is Part 8 of 23 monthly installments for Visitant.
The day after Labor Day, Agnes Person is almost late. She’s been too fussy about frontal details. Never mind that the back of her head looks like a leftover harvest of bobby pins. Across her forehead, six pairs of crossed clips play a mean tug of war with her creased bangs. Ouch! She fuzzes with the volume of her clock radio. Dull noise leaks around edges, ready to roll out a no-letter day.
Agnes listens to the weather report and fastens an almost new wristwatch Jena gave her as a promptness gift. She guesses the watch, too large for petite Jena, belonged to the sea god. Or maybe Jena hated the stodgy Roman numerals, vestiges of Zen and Pal’s defunct empires. Agnes doesn’t mind translating I, V, and X of this battery-run sundial. She worries about ordination, time control, horological implants.
6:00 a.m., and even number addresses are busy burning weekend trash—paper plates laced with barbeque sauce, leaves, summer hats. Smoke hugs the air like lost kin. Agnes gets in gear.
VII, or rather, 7 a.m.: Leash-walk bathed dog. TN wags, but back-to-school kids nudge each other, push free, part. They hate his tail sprinkles and the big floral print of her housecoat, blue roses.
Pleurosis, they shriek, pointing, laughing in huddles.
Pleurisy, Agnes yells back. You brats can’t spell.
7:30: Feed dog, dress for Good Works, bike to mid-week prayer breakfast (do-nuts). Her turn to read. Oops. Guess who forgot to lose her bedroom slippers? Shuffle forward in two plush bunnies with goofy eyes. Deep breath, and left stocking runs.
8:00: Begin loud over background ruckus, Eleazar begat. Chairs scrape. Nones, the non-religious gnomes, show their colors, crouch, leave by the side door. Late to work, they whisper, crushing small juice cups, hooking a glazed on the way out. For Break.
8:15: Soldier on through I Chronicles 6. And Uzzi begat Zerahiah and Ahitub begat Azariah and Azariah begat Johanan…and Zadok begat Shallum.
The big T signs Over, but Agnes loves reading this begat chat, the good part of Reap and Sow, Comes to Pass, Just Desserts, etc.
8:30: Place marker in the Good Book.
For Next Time, Agnes, the alderman says and nods real polite. Sometime you must come over for dessert, meet my girls and the little wife.
Agnes can’t hear Sometime—that vagueness lost to universal static.
8:45 –XII: Search humongous church register. Bingo! By lunchtime, find alderman’s address. Listed spouse: Goodrin, omagosh, R.N. Talking point. Maybe she knows Jena from the ER.
5:00 p.m.: Change clothes, feed TN and the fish, hop the M4 to that nice area of town.
5:45: Pleasant tree-lined walk from bus stop. Squirrels in the canopy quarrel, spit nuts along the driveway. Leggy barn-red cosmos dot chrome yellow asters. Oh no! Mixing those colors cost painter Vincent van Gogh his ear. To the rescue! Yank offending blooms, rub out petals with shoe, pile stems by soaker hose. To help the yard man. Tomorrow.
6 sharp: Realign skirt and blouse over sleepy lump. Smooth hair, this evening, meshed to honor baby sea turtles caught in tuna nets. Stomach growls, the dog within weaning her whelp.
6:01: Press ON. Continue plan.
6:02: Place first foot on front steps, pause. Mmm, strong-armed aromas—deep-dish apple pie, crumble crust. Nice older house screen buzz. Clicker wicker rocker in motion, must be Goodrin omagosh in bathrobe and curlers, dead-tired. Wife’s hasty exit awkward as hell.
6:03: Eavesdrop on porch. Inside kids yell over rising adult voices, hers, his, hers. Well, wife cries, you’re in charge. Why not partition home life and parishioners?
6:04: Nothing doing. Hurry, tithe. Tuck tenth pup, the runt, under cozy window box. Hitch string shawl over puppy spittle on wash-n-wear suede top.
6:05: Door opens. About time. Big forced smiles, his, hers.
Beveled glass cast prismatics across refinished hallway floor. In broken rainbows, bratty girls fight over wind-up toy duck reeling on its side.
6:04: Enter, trailing fishnet like a leatherback in penny loafers. This visit a Good Thing. Right as rain.