I had to go home to see my wife. The landlady’s mouth was a zero.
I stuck my hand into it and held her head.
You pay for rent she said.
The landlady had no money in the bank. She kept all of it under a floor board.
How is your husband, I said.
What, the land lady said.
Is he doing better, I said
Yes, the land lady said. He has been on his death bed for two years. When I was child the Nazi came into my home, my mother and I had to cook potato cabbage and milk for them. They said they knew my father was part of the underground. They said they had killed him. I cried. I believed them. My mother told me to shut the fuck up. Shut the heck up she said. You don’t give them satisfaction. Your father is drunk at the
bar and fucking whore.s He is not dead. I wish he was dead. I hate Nazi bastards.
They are listening to us through our walls. The Americans were even worse. They didn’t give a shit about us Polish. The Germans and the Russians had raped us and taken our goods. The Americans were lazy and handsome. They wanted us to service them like the others. I wanted to come after i saw the american soldiers were handsome and had chewing gum. They were joyful and good at killing the German pigs.
The land lady’s husband listens to Jazz and coughs all day long.
I like him. He has worked hard. He has magnificent clear blue vodka eyes. His son is an engineer who visits him from Upstate NY. He won’t die alone.
The landlady opens her legs when I need to fuck.
Her scrawny legs torso and head have been affected by time but her sixty year old breasts are no older than forty.
Her hair is down. It looks young when it clashes with her craven face.
She has a lottery sign tattoo on her ankle and the number thirteen on her neck that she
got on friday the thirteenth for 13 dollars and four molars representing the teeth the Nazis removed from her grandmother’s ancient mouth on her thigh.
The landlady pulled her youthful hair behind her neck. She was mute and dour.
I want to do my forever with you, I said.
I only have one husband she said. I will be a widow forever. After Im dead I will
meet him on the other side. No one can meet his standard. American men are
sausages compared to him.
I thought she has a point. Most men can’t compete with a ghost. The dead do no wrong.
You’re a stubborn old woman, I said.
I give you some potato and chicken broth like i did for the Nazi, she said.
I felt empty before an uncanny warmth entered me. Was it charity?
She placed her hands on her chest and asked me if I was angry with her.
She asked me why I dislike her. I like you fine I said.
The landlady backed into her apartment and closed the door.
My wife is an hour late. She cried when she saw me. She has no idea where I was. She circled the neighborhood for hours. She even avoided the advance of a neighbor she thought was me. I told her it was my double. He wants to lose his way
like myself. He is obsessed with the lostness of Kerouac Proust and Celan.
My wife has a wooly sock on her right foot and a silk sock with silver dots on the other.
Yesterday she had a similar arrangement, but she had two thin socks on her left foot. She wears her socks to bed when she passes out with a purple tongue from drinking
a bottle of red wine.
I’m depressed, my wife said.
Roxy got managing editor, she said.
Did you covet the position, I said.
Roxy got promoted to Gary’s job and he isn’t leaving, my wife said.There will be an extra headcount.
Someone has to go, my wife said.
It won’t be you I said. They don’t have anyone to replace you.
Maybe, but there is no telling what they will do, my wife said.
Like any work place cruelty can seem random.
It’s unfair, my wife said. Without me Maxine wouldn’t know what to do. I have no idea
how the promotion will change her. She’s too mousy. She should continue as a
copy editor. She knows words not people. It’s clear the two managing editors want someone they can control. They don’t want someone who is thinking for herself.
It’s good they don’t have someone beneath you who can do your work, I said.
They may get someone from another department to do it, my wife said.