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Archimedes, Part 2
Archimedes, Part 2
...Continued from Part 1
The days passed slowly, but life is easier when you have something to look forward to. I spent the afternoons at home, my shades drawn and the lights off. At night I sat in my window with a bottle of wine and some cigarettes and watched the cars and the kids and the drunks and thought about Faye while the city danced beneath me.
Finally, the weekend arrived. She had told me to be at her house on Sunday at seven o'clock, and had written the address for me on a napkin. I left my house at six. It wouldn't take me that long to get there, but I didn't want to be late. I wore a suit that had once been my brother’s. It didn't fit quite right; the sleeves and pants were a little too short, and if I closed the jacket the button pulled and strained against its thread and threatened to come off. But it was a suit and my hair was combed.
The evening was warm, so I removed the jacket and carried it over my arm, flowers in one hand, a bottle of decent white in the other. When my neighbors saw me they grinned, and when I passed them I thought I could hear them chuckle to each other. I looked like a man going to meet a date. I almost turned back. I was very thirsty.
I found the building she lived in easily, but I was early. There was a bus stop with a bench across from her building, so I sat down and smoked a cigarette. It was a nice neighborhood. Trees were allowed to grow there, jutting out from planters imbedded in the sidewalk or on little lawns in front of the apartment buildings and brownstones. People sat on their steps and laughed while others walked unhurriedly together holding hands, talking in muted voices. When people in my neighborhood sat on the steps or walked slowly, you knew it was because they had nowhere else to go and no reason to rush.
At five past seven I stood up, put on my jacket, and walked across the street to her building. It wasn't until I pressed the bell to ring her apartment that I realized I was nervous. The door buzzed and unlocked, and as I climbed the three flights of stairs to her door all I could think of was that I hoped I wouldn't have to take off my shoes. Both of my socks were black, but they weren't a pair and I didn't want her to notice.
The door was ajar when I arrived. I pushed it open, stepped in and announced myself. The air was thick with the smell of spice; tamarind, or saffron, or who knows what. Something foreign that I would never use and couldn't place. I heard her call out from the kitchen to make myself at home. In the hall by the door a little mat was laid out and was littered with shoes. I removed mine and placed them on the mat with the others, then entered the apartment proper.
It was a woman’s apartment; clean, but slightly cluttered and decorated with small trinkets, framed memories and potted plants. I looked around for the menagerie of miniature ceramic or crystal animals, but I couldn't find it. I sat on the edge of her couch. I stood in the middle of the living room. I found an empty wall and leaned against it. I was still holding the flowers and the wine and I couldn't see an ashtray anywhere. Finally she came out of the kitchen.
Concluded Tomorrow: Archimedes, Part 3