chapter 24

Back in the Den

     The dust cloud was now cloud clouds and as the jet descended

   through them the skyline of New York City appeared for Celia. It

   unchanged and she entirely so.

       LaGuardia airstrip was closest to her Astoria apartment so she

  made that the first stop and would get to her mother in the 


       Driving, drinkin, waiting, flying, transferring and then flying

  some more, though all done from a sitting position tuckered Celia

  out so she decided a bath, ahhh, shower, a think and then go find

  Harold, would be the way to go. Most definitely.

      Like when one visits his or her elementary school, everything

  now seemed so small, so compacted. In the cab Celia wondered if 

  the car would fit through the narrow streets. While waiting for a

  traffic light to turn green on Astoria blvd., she saw more people

  than she had in 3 weeks out west.

      She got out of the cab on her corner so to walk to her building 

  in the middle of her block. Her block now seemed tiny. She might

  spit from one end to the other. The double dutch girls,  

  chanting and twirling in the tight circle of illumination under a 

  lamp post stopped to greet Celia. Celia dropped her bag, embraced

  them all and requested a one rope turn as she was out of practice.

  Double dutch was the same. Not reduced or altered and certainly

  not beneath her.


                      “ If growing up means it would be,

                    Beneath my dignity to climb a tree …..”

     The apartment was tiniest of all. Dorothy in Munchkin land, you

  betcha. But there were her portraits, her books, paints, music,

  clothes and effects and they all now seemed to her as artifacts or

  maybe, clues at a crime scene.

      A shower left her clean and yet not cleansed. Not at all like the

  daily ablution she enjoyed in her deluxe tub with lion paws in


    The think, a regular feature of the Ardensville bathe, was not

  present in the 40”x40’’ shower. There was washing and there was

  done. That is all.

     “Aye Harold, you okay?” Philly called over in his penetrating


      No regular patron listening was accustomed to Harold dropping 

   a beat or hesitating segues or any disturbance to his fluid playing.

   Celia’s accounting of her bizarre visit to what once was Harold’s

   homeland was short circuiting his musical brain.

     “This secret is so secret Harold, I wouldn’t be surprised if

   blabbing it was a federal offense.” Celia tipped back the bottom 

   of her beer.

       Here were the two friends as before and the only thing changed

   was Celia’s worldliness due to having spent a few weeks in a 

   small town out west. Harold ceased playing and Philly turned the

   sound up on the ball game. Now the friends could face one


      “And they, all these ahhh, refugees, don’t even detect each

  other? I find that very tough to swallow.”, Harold queried


     “Could I make this shit up Harold?!” Celia stopped realizing she

   had raised her voice enough to draw attention as detected by

   Philly’s caterpillar eyebrows. Without turning to the piano, Harold

   grabbed a big chord that expressed simultaneously his amazement

  and disbelief.

     “Wha chu gonna do?”, Harold asked in character though 

  sincerely and looked directly at Celia for a big and substantive

  answer. Harold waited. He waited a little more then got up and 

  took their mugs for reloads.

     “I won’t let my soulless mother and her soulless pride-less pride

   expose and destroy a holy place. I don’t know what I’m going to

   do. I don’t know what I can do. This is just awful. I’ll know more


      Turning back to the piano Harold glissed down nearly the entire

   keyboard and landed on a thought.

                        “M is for the many things you gave me.”

  "Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."