The Augean Stables

Chapter  33

       Company’s comin’. For this reason Penny thought it high time to get to see some open space, clean clear counters, and dustless beams of light that move through the shop like breezes.

       Try as she might, she could not recall if she had ever put the shop in order. Was this current arrangement the accumulation of all her years in Ardensville? Was this arrangement the truth? 

A truth?

       For days, try as she might, Penny could not put the place in order. If she found a button, she recalled the dress it came from and then shifted her attention to reuniting them. An unmarked shoe box years unopened might cost her an hour spent squinting to recall that distant and obscured season.

       Penny knew what she needed to do. Delay was a luxury not in the budget. Here was a skirmish apart and part of an urgent and pressing battle.

       All Miles ever wanted was to be wanted. Wanted. And when he was wanted, his heart breathed a little and his very decent and humane core was revealed, clean, clear, and dustless.

       He came on Sunday morning. No one came into the P.O. Sunday morning and his excursion would be both a secret mission and relief from the disturbing sounds of the church service. Truth be told though, Harold’s involvement in the musical aspects of the services did have a positive affect.

       Miles knew where Penny lived. He knew where everybody lived, as he himself had delivered the mail to every home, but that did not prepare him for the creak of Penny’s porch steps. He drew back fearing who knows what. Collecting his courage, he sort of dashed up the steps and stopped in front of Penny’s planter with the dead plant and the cigarette butts. “Huh.” Could knocking on the door be necessary with those steps, but he did anyway.

       “Miles, please, I need your help.”

       “Penny, please, may I help?”

       After a cup of coffee and the collection of all possible cleaning things, Miles attacked with an intensity so great, it was all Penny could do to just stay out the way.

       His method was counter-intuitive. His first move was to wash the windows from the outside. Which was more amazing; the amount of light that flooded the studio or the blackness of the towels used to clean the windows? Wow. Then he did those same windows on the inside and now he could begin.  

       After a quick clean from the hose, he dragged in an outside garbage can and told Penny they were going to fill it. He cleared and cleaned off the largest of the workspace counter tops, and began bringing out all the shoe boxes and baskets and bags that packed all the shelf space. He filled a shpritz bottle with water and a tablespoon of ammonia, so he could wipe down the empty shelves while Penny went through the stuff with the objective of throwing out about half of it. Miles had brought blank labels, and a reduced number of boxes started going back on the shelves labeled and dustless. Wow.

       Then the floor. He hit it with water so he could sweep without a dust storm. What he had swept up went into a box before going in the garbage can, because the bazillion pins and needles would otherwise stab somebody tending to the trash.  

       He oiled the wood floor. If a thing was broke, he fixed it. If he couldn’t fix it, he tossed it. Now inspired, Penny did the equivalent with the racks of garments. If she could not recall who, what, when, then in the can it went. 

       They broke for lunch around 2ish. Miles declined a snort at that point, but enjoyed two when they both declared “done” about 4:00.

       Incredible piece of work. What had been an unnavigable dust cave, an obsolete work area, a regular Collyer’s mansion, was transformed into a bright and genial tailor/designer’s work space and studio. Wow.

       “Miles!! Ya know yer a freakin’ genius? Why ain’t they made you president cowpoke?”

       Better than being wanted, Miles liked being appreciated. He liked knowing someone sensed his worth, his aptitude. He blushed, he glowed, he snorted.

       “Oh yes, I found something before lunch, slipped my mind.” Much like the P.O. Miles scurried behind a counter and came back with something in a frame he had found between a counter and the wall. It was a yellowed signed letter of recommendation from Edith Head. The glass was cracked, but Penny recognized it immediately.

       “There you are, ole buddy!!” Penny was done. She broke down, threw her arms around Miles, sobbed and convulsed gratitude.

       The fashion show was coming in the morning, 9:00 in the a.m.