Below is Part 16 of 23 monthly installments for Visitant.
Good food, farm to fork, Agnes knows, grows 14-karat tresses, their sheen knee-deep at high noon. Her feet ache, her ankles swell, and Agnes craves pickles. She no longer hauls birthstones. She now sells her hair trim for upscale collars and funky fringe. Secondary niche markets are male-only hairball communities, political prude-dudes and Wisconsin friars wearing hair shirts, the luxuriant side turned in against their skin. Agnes would kill for a contract to wig Conquerors and Captives, dioramas at the new Viking Museum under construction.
A May trade show has her booked in Ballroom A of a big city grand hotel. Cushions and Cabinet-makers are scheduled in Ballroom B, and the place is jam-packed with buyers, lookers, and hookers. Agnes has arrived with a fine spread of fur samples, real and faux, and a banner for her booth, Feel for yourself! Dare to compare. Tented over the table, her brilliant hair holds her like gravity. Keeps her in orbit.
Of late, Agnes has been dating Sofar, a low-maintenance wax match she met traveling as Alice in Texas. Sofar can smell himself in any scent, and all stones suit his natal stars. Good enough, but Sofar, she quickly learned, self-medicates with a deck of cards. He passes the time cheating himself for practice. Keeps him centered, he says.
When Sofar told Agnes about Lola, a middle-level manager at a pillow factory, the felt carpet pad in her apartment sprouted a three-cornered hat. TN growled, but Agnes remains blind to love triangles, despite shrink-wrapped advice of Dr. Winkle.
For Agnes, childhood classics have defined cheating as Stump the Chump. Fanny dents in bear chairs and strange hairs in the sink miff Agnes, but she doesn’t label plump adolescent Goldilocks as a home-wrecker. She tags her as inconvenient. Ditto with any one of the snoring, boring, wheezing, belching, farting, humming, hoarse Seven Dwarfs.
Sofar, she suspects, has taken up (again) with his free-roaming love-hen, Lola. No wonder, he’s gained a paunch. He’s double dipping: Agnes for the salad course, Lola for the meat and potatoes. Who knows for dessert?
Out of nowhere, Sofar surfaces at the trade show. Wearing a leisure suit the color of breaded chicken skin before the fry, he makes small talk and pets the pelts. See you later, babe, for Happy Hour, he says, and slides away on his creased grease.
Cad, he’s not here to surprise her, thinks Agnes. He’s romancing Lola in another room of the same hotel.
Her hair sells out by mid-afternoon. Agnes crumples the noisy paper banner and packs her samples on the hand-truck. She leaves a fur cushion for Sofar, room 1 L, at the Front Desk.
Fake farm mink, she assures a curious bellhop. She wants Sofar to know she knows his cat is home alone. The jerk is way too cheap for an animal sitter.
Hours later, she stops by Sofar’s place to check on Jumpers. Kitty, kitty, she calls, hiding her worry.
Scattered across the living room are gigantic pants and skirts, tried on, inside out — designer labels in her face. Lola must be huge, semi-inflatable, Agnes thinks with satisfaction. But she has left kibble for the cat, who, she sees, is curled up with toy inside a DD bra cup.
Agnes takes a silk scarf for spite and slips a note inside a loaf-length pink slipper. Sofar, she writes, did you rob a Big Woman store, or are you in drag?
These are not mutually exclusive possibilities. Agnes knots the scarf around her head and chuckles over the thought of pets as intimate fashion accessories — a runway variant of the medieval hair shirt.
Agnes pats Jumper and fills his water bowl. She knows cheating is a matter of scale. Thank goodness, TN is too big for Lola to bosom.
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