Sunday, May 21, 2006

Home Valence

I look out the front door of our old home place on Liberty Street. My mother is in the front room collecting what we will take with us. We’re leaving. She has an old worn brown paper grocery shopping back, limp and open before her. We won’t be taking much.

Outside on the street, an auto cruises by, right to left, or south to north. A lady is driving, and I am in her line of sight, but she ignores me, makes no sign. She is turning into our driveway.

I am now settled in a new home, which is like a small cubicle or storefront along a public corridor, maybe an indoor shopping center. The phone rings.

It is not ringing for me. I live alone now, but apparently there is some party line arrangement for the complex. I pick the phone up anyway, but to do so, I use a public extension which is on the pavement outside. I don’t know why, but to listen into the call, I leave my phone off the hook and go to the one outside. Maybe I want to avoid being traced.

I hear the agent for my next-door neighbor. He is disparaging us all, and also planning some nefarious scheme which will affect us, not favorably. We may lose our homes and the agent and his client will profit. I am listening with great interest.

“Is someone on the line?”

Discovered! I gingerly hang up the phone and stride off down the corridor, as nonchalant as I can affect.

Wait! I still have my own phone off the hook! I hurry back through my open door, and also replace that receiver, again as quietly as I can. Done.

I turn back to my door … and see the agent standing there by the public phone, watching me, expressionless.

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