(Yet another potable portion from a chapter, this one recently posted with A Republic of Books, the novel in progress to be found elsewhere on this site.)
It was this sense of things then which had taken me to the hardware store to buy a bucket of light green paint. (Green being the cheapest color, given the regular demands of our local Hibernians, but a little added white and a touch of yellow makes this less nationalistic). The idea was, considering that I could not pee at the perimeters like a good wolf, I would paint the entire place and shift a few things to new locations and thus reaffirm my personal space. (No, that smacks a bit much of psychobabble. Like I say, I was simply reasserting my territory.) And this was, after all, a simpler project than even the limited square footage made necessary. I have bookshelves over every clear expanse of wall greater than three feet in width. No need to paint behind those. Mostly it was just a matter of moving my bed a few feet to the opposite end of that cavity beneath the stairs. But then, after one sleepless night that way, I shoved it back due to a nightmare that I attributed to disorientation. I am too old for such radical change, perhaps. I liked the green, however. Very soothing.
If you are wondering, this is all very pertinent to the fact that Deirdre soon came to visit. And this happened due to a misunderstanding. Or so I thought.
She called the shop and asked to speak with me. She actually asked Ardis, who answered the phone. And Ardis likely answered this request in a tone of voice appropriate to her feelings about reporters in general, and Deidre in particular. When I got to the waiting receiver by following the curl of the cord to where in dangled into the trash can—Ardis’s traditional indication that the call is not worth taking–Deirdre said, “Can we talk?”
I said, “Sure.”
She said, “Not at the store.” a brief pause let me understand her reluctance to speak anywhere in the vicinity of Ardis. “Is there someplace else?”
I say, “How about the Paramount,” that being a former diner that’s been thoroughly yuppified, but the closest possibility I could think of that might meet the demand. Given taxes and the subsequent rents, Downtown Boston no longer has anything like a simple diner.
I can see her shake the short bleach-blond curls on her head, even over the phone. She says, “Everyone will see us there. You said you live close. How about your apartment?”
I hesitated. I don’t know why. So she added, “You’re a bachelor. I know. I’ve seen bachelor apartments before. Don’t be embarrassed. I’m sure its not so bad as all that.”
“I suppose. Sure. When.”
“How about now. I’m just a couple blocks away looking for a parking space.”
It was midafternoon and what crowd had been in the shop had gone back to their shifts at the hospital, or their offices. I gave her my home address.
She was sitting on the front stoop by the time I got to Myrtle Street.
By making a pot of coffee right off the bat, I gave her ample time to look the place over.
She says, “It’s cozy,” as she wanders the meager open space at the center of the square. This, of course, means it’s very small, which is not news to me. She peeks into the gloom of my bedroom and then seemed to give an extra look to the bed, which is even narrower than a standard size to allow for a little walking space.
She smiles unconvincingly. “I like it. And clean. Neat. Even your bed is made up. I’m impressed.”
I would have admitted to my recent efforts at interior decoration but this sounded like another of her left-handed compliments. She is left-handed after all. I answered, “I have a maid service come in once a month to shovel it out.”