Standard Manor at The Groves (The old men at Miss Kitty's)
|facing west, added to empty and left for bruised|
Safely down the road the 2 men held each others hands. They enjoyed the soft idleness of the others slim fingers. Liquor warmed their insides as they swapped fortunes. The coach bounced along the ruts, bang. Bang, it's leaf springs squeaked. The driver shouted her fevered thoughts out into the pines. Her ass stiff from much too much red rum punch. With a nod it's Monstre Harold's turn. So Monstre Owen leans into the puckered velvet bench and listens. His moist brown eye's flutter as the drugs take hold of his grey slip of a frame.
add this to my moment, add this to my dear, another fist full of soil, brings us nearer too near
Here is a piece for Harriet Barlow-Pinkerton. Her late husband, Pinky would call her, Pinch. But her daughters knew her only as, Business. The girls played here on Saturdays beneath the cathedral's peak. Simple times have passed away into revile. Now buskers bundled into fox stoles turn out dark ballads for crowds of metaphorical snap peas and butter beans. She gathers her broom and returns to work among the donors. Thank you, she says softly applying her warm palm gently to each passing hand. Thank you sweetness.
At dusk, at the trumpet's end she weeps, her chin tucked deep into her fist. Her knuckles ache. The green shawl is a ragged patch of patched rags. She knit it for her own mother in '88 but its been wrapped around these shoulders for years. The simple corn husk broom with it's black handle is kinked at the neck but it feels gentle and useful considering the weather. Tonight her thoughts are damp. They're short thoughts for Cassiopeia, the vain queen of northern nights.
Excuse me. Excuse me. Pardon me. Excuse me. Then its into the bath and down to the bed and then read, read, read until sunrise. The thin gaslight reveals nothing clever about these stones, they arrived here cold and they've managed to stay late. However Colin admits, at least they've lasted this long. His sandwich, he shared it with the geese in the park of the pond this morning. Now for supper it's chewed nails or nothing at all. Nothing on the lawn. Nothing at all.
At first his queer foot limped along softly. Now it felt grouchy. Now it bickered and bitched at his left knee as he drags it among the iron archways. The high limestone outcroppings shield him from the incipient rain as he lurched between them. Up ahead the cobbles end at a low hung door. It's copper frontispiece riveted to four broad planks retrieved from a squalid rug market in Jerusalem. Still it opens with an easy inward action that's barely audible.
Inside Colin pulls the handy lamp chain. Click, lights the small dry room. He kicks a brass bobbin. It skitters across the floor halting in a deep crease. There's a whisper from the dark, It's me. It's a soft pleading sound, like if someone had an idea to suspend a bouquet in thick cow's cream. Drip. Drip.
Monstre Owen? Oh Monstre Owen? Please, I'm scared.
The room was a former vestibule for a private chapel above. Old men would sit here on benches and pull up their soft leather boots. Florid Muscovite wall sconces once warmed this little chamber with it's petty latch drawers and beveled mirrors. The room only has a wooden table and 2 chairs in it tonight. The chairs aren't matched to the table or each other. One is Danish while the other looks native but it's probably Shaker. Colin removes a fat folder from his wool robe.
Monstre Harold, you need to be much much less of whatever this is. What if someone should hear?
You're not Monstre Owen...
Monstre Harold's wrists are each set in an iron cuff. The cuffs themselves are secured with a slender chain to the powdery brick behind him. Monstre Harold's range of motion is limited to an array of waves, waggle's, shakes, and chops. It's amusing for Colin to see this man hanging here like this, like a puppet, like a divine suit waiting for the right day. Sadly it's Colin's chore to inform Monstre Harold that this day has passed.
Why are you doing this to me?
I think you know the answer to that question. You've got the look of someone that knows things.
But I'm Monstre...
Monstre bad, sadly not Monstre good...
under this tree we once sang a song, you to my heart and I to your eyes, those brilliant eyes that shine in the day, long long gone, gone gone away
Down on the south water near the docks is a creaky old sprawl house with a small wood clad room and a black bellied heater. There hangs a framed picture above a cast-iron bed with very very surly springs. In the corner opposite the heater, next to the shuttered window stands a wooden table topped by a cheap enameled wash basin with bald edges and a fat empty pitcher. In an identical room right next door, 6 men meet twice weekly to exchange wagers, spit tobacco juice, and to take turns lying naked on the bed.
The clothed men watch in fascination with their portfolios open in their dry laps. They grind stumps of charcoal, wax, and clay furiously into loose leaves of course prairie paper hoping to capture the truth and the wisdom that's in front of them. Long after the lamp wicks have been trimmed and the oil is topped. Long after Miss Kitty has left the men a tray at their door and she quietly retreats to her parlor. Sometime after that in the early morning hours the will emerge stymied and frustrated. The capitulating men step into the grey alley, into the long shadows of another day.
They stand around in the barren alley blinking. They stretch their arms and pull at their elbows. Their hips twist and they reach for their knees. One fellow leans up on the clapboard wall and urinates. He sighs deeply as his bladder empties in the mud. The Widows around them form a simple landscape from the interlocking shapes along edge of the south water. The river breaks south and west into a crooked bit of work of that’s crowded with wharf's choked by short doggers, and busy purse-liners. The pitch of its black bridges, the tumbled shacks and shanties at it’s edge crowd around the big dark green silo’s and weight houses. They dislocate and obscure all but the most radical looking buildings on the river.
An apple rolls out in the street. It settles in a puddle of mule piss before Birdie can snap it up. She can sing but her back's sore. Her legs are tired and she's hungry. Drunks spill into the street from either side as piano music waivers in the sore air. Out among the streets and the alleys around her she hears the rattle of metal lunch pails. Bea's not picky. Anyone's place will be just fine for her. Even better if they've got a hard egg or sausage end tucked away.