Below is Part 21 of 23 monthly installments for Visitant.
21 Slipper Moon Apts.
Ground-floor studio, sunny garden, heat incl., pets ok. Classifieds in hand, hair square-baled, Agnes Person stands before the gracious old apartment building and wonders if she has made a mistake. The place has seen better lunar phases. Not yet Halloween, but across the sixth floor, last year’s Christmas lights blink.
On the wide stone window sill of the fifth floor, an arm sets out a steaming pot to chill beside a half life-size plastic shepherd. This luminous figure totters above a smaller lit form—upside-down, hollow, snagged in extension cords and ivy—a lambkin, now dovecot for city pigeons.
Heat included, Agnes thinks, and chuckles, wishing all animals were snug, warm, safe.
Two levels below, two kings in stripes stare out the window, reeled in, perhaps, during their nosedive from five. Ground-level privet bushes harbor the missing magus, crown intact, neck broken. Leafless branches scratch against another hollow plastic figure. A second smashed shepherd? Mary? Her baby?
TN tugs on his leash. Turning toward home, Agnes fastens her heavy green cape and pockets the crumpled ad.
Hey, lady! Wait, yells a super, hurrying after her, zipping his nylon windbreaker. He motions this way, and leads Agnes to the east end of the building.
Agnes cannot believe her eyes. A curved galleria encloses a filled-in swimming pool, crescent-shaped with brilliant deco tile. Arching handles of the ladder and top tread are still in place. A little cement fountain painted aqua sputters in the sunken garden. Agnes knows she can repoint the bricks with aquarium sand and set out her succulents to sun.
Perfecto! No more hiding TN and the goldfish. No more fried liver brownstone. Agnes claps her hands in relief.
Too gravid for swimwear, Agnes feels the stare of righteous indignation at the Y. Here, she can work out in privacy, do morning step-ups on the ladder, pace laps in full dress: two sets of twenty equal one half mile. Good enough.
She’s ready to move in ASAP, she tells the super, as she signs the lease with Slipper Moon Apartments.
Back at her used-to-be, Agnes soaks her swollen ankles in Epsom salts, pats her stomach, and naps. Tomorrow, she’ll call Bea and Jena and ask them to help.
The friends plan the move for Monday. In advance, Agnes crates her favorite socks for safekeeping. On the big day, she clips up her dyed green hair in a conical array of ribbons and colored paper stars.
Add stringed popcorn and you could pass for a grade-school Holiday tree, quips a familiar voice.
Sofar, with dumpling buns, flab breasts, and aging circus dimples intact.
Agnes, still stung by cat sitting for Lola, almost slams the door. But if he’s here to work, okay. Maybe his sly juggle will prove useful in curved space.
At the Slipper Moon, pudgy Sofar won’t bend, won’t lift. Giddy, he wants to dance, balance on top a big ball. His nifty footwork amazes Bea and Jena.
Sit down, Agnes. Rest, they urge as they lug, push, and drag, careful not to chip the deco tile.
Sofar, turning faster and faster, whirs like a spindle. TN growls, and Sofar and his vibes spin out to the street, splat, split and meet white bean soup spilled from fifth floor windowsill.
Whirrr, jeers Bea, elbows akimbo over aproned hips.
Was, corrects Jena, closing the door with a definitive thud.
Am, announces Agnes, now wide awake to TN’s tail wag and snow flurries trying to whiten the late October afternoon with winter.
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