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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 morning. 

       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 the 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 Ardensville.

       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 baritone.

       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 another.

       “And they, all these ahhh, refugees, don’t even detect each other? I find that very tough to swallow.” Harold queried incredulous.

       “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 tomorrow.’

       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.”

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