I also ought to avoid word prompts!

I just barely recall both the coal delivery into the sidewalk chute leading to the cellar, and the milk bottle delivery onto the front granite-slab steps (one of which was growing crooked even back in the days of Noah, who used to pahk the ahk down at the boat peeah beside the bridge).

I can’t say I grew up there — I grew up in a number of spots all over that city, as we moved quite frequently (which I miss doing, also quite frequently) — but the apartment to which I refer in the downtown area of an historic seaport city is now a tattoo parlor. I don’t mean an ink shop. I mean a tattoo parlor, atop at least one rowdy townie bar.

I can’t imagine what they did with the rest of the apartment — perhaps the tattooist(s) lives in the other rooms..  or maybe it has become/returned to being one of the town’s old bawdy houses, though it was uptown a bit from the actual noted red light district. (I should request a tour sometime….)

It was (and likely still is) a strangely laid out apartment, insofar as the winding staircase’s top landing met 2 stairs down onto a tiny landing; from there, the bathroom dead ahead was on that lower landing, but exiting from there, one would have 2 more steps down into the kitchen, OR 2 steps up into the living room, or 2 up to the hallway that led past one bedroom to the storage room with the spooky pipe.

If one shook that building-tall pipe, something way below would shake it right back. Cousin and I tried not to irritate the Something Way Below. We mostly were just saying, “We’re just seeing if you’re still there, and if so, saying ‘Hi’ — don’t kill us,” as kids are wont to so brilliantly trust in doing. It had to be a ghost; the lovely but ancient man downstairs in the ancient tailor shop would likely not have been shaking the pipe back.

That hallway also led to the back door. Such unpleasant memories, there, I don’t know which one to pick first. I recall my mom shutting off the vacuum cleaner to spank me for something for which I had no clue. I truly had no idea, but she didn’t believe that, so I got more for “back-talking.” Boyhowdy, those were the days. Those were the days I determined never to hit my own children!

Also, that’s the one spot my father didn’t tear up whenever he broke into that particular apartment; there wasn’t anything there to shatter or up-end; but it is indeed the landing from which we surveyed his kitchen damages. As I say, it led to a bedroom, too.. my mom let my uncle stay there, once (she and I shared the front bedroom, that we may hear a car parking suspiciously quietly out front…), who vowed to protect us from unwanted night-time visitors. In theory, it was brilliant, but he was a drinker… and a smoker. He set the mattress on fire –and wouldn’t wake up! My 4’11” mom had to roll him off the bed so she could drag the mattress down the hallway to the back door to fling outside and go pour water on.

Indeed, back doors were something we always had to have, due (almost solely..) to my father’s alcohol-fueled Nocturnal Ops. We coudn’t afford even a party line (until years later), so we had to be within rabbit-scurrying distance of the police department, but we first needed an escape hatch. Thankfully, there were clues to toggle our sleeping selves into action, like glass breaking and wood splintering. Very adrenalin-friendly stuff, that — as were the pitch black alleyways we employed.

And of course, the top step of the also-winding (but of ancient wood) back steps is the one my hefty cousin stepped right through up to the top of one thigh. I’d thought we were laughing until she screamed for me to get my mother. Oh my, she had scratches and splinters the length of her — not to even mention she could’ve plunged through to the ground two floors below!

Down in the backyard is where my mom met the “granddaddy of all hornets” who gave her palm “both barrels” when she inadvertently grabbed an inhabited clothespin on the line, and it’s where my first and last childhood experiment with puppy ownership had me grossed out and totally dis-illusioned; who knew dogs would eat their own feces? NOT.I.

Very near those front granite steps, though, is where I stood holding my beautiful angora kitty before he got so sick. I was mighty proud of that kitty, especially since it never raided its own litter box, and a drunken passerby decided to pet the cat, but his hand strayed to where the cat’s tail hung down, and he said, “Oh, my, yes — a lovely pussy.” Which is why I can’t stand that word the past 50-some years, no matter who uses it or why. Fortunately, another passer-by intervened.

Otherwise (and, er, other than the break-in at the elderly tailor’s shop below, in which he left a bloody handprint on the glass door before he collapsed from being bonked on the head with a weapon, though he recuperated just fine), it was a great place to live. Probably still is..


(I just realized I have many more memories of this place.. it comes to you too late, I fear, but maybe this place is a book-to-be, it’s address as the title!)





17 thoughts on “I also ought to avoid word prompts!

  1. It surely sounds book-worthy.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. lifelessons says:

    So skillfully done, Carol–working in from the physical details to the emotional ones. A really effective piece.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Relax... says:

      Oh, thank you, Judy! Hadn’t thought of it that way (you give me too much credit), but I like it! It screams for chapters, I fear, but I can still feel the cool of the granite steps on those hot days, so maybe I should throw in the tales of many neighbors… interspersed with some even older history!

      Liked by 1 person

      • lifelessons says:

        Just look at it as a collection of shorter pieces and I’m sure they’ll hang together in the end. I love that idea of front porch tales!! The best stories are not planned, but turn out having these wonderful subtle constructions like yours did. If you had planned it, it wouldn’t have worked so well. You just followed along as you skillfully told the tale–as though you were your first listener (reader.) You’ve always underrated yourself. Just do it. You do it well.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Suze says:

    I want the next chapter in my email box by 4:30 pm Monday! Get to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. loisajay says:

    Yikes, Carol! I agree with both Maggie and Suze. Book-worthy, but I want the next chapter now! And, by the way I am from Jersey! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Relax... says:

      You still my favorite Jersey home-gurrl!

      Okay, Chapter 13, but here it slides into second or third person because my first person has sworn off saying “I” for the rest of the night:

      She loved keying those roller skates onto her spare pair of Thom McAnn’s and flying down the sidewalk. She got tired of gravity winning the races after about 40 passes on the one block, so she stayed down that last time and decided to share her woes with equally tee-totalling sidewalk-crack ants there in front of the barbershop near the bar that smelled so delicious (though she dared say that to no one at all!).

      Unbeknownst to her, a driver on the street just beyond all the parked cars parallel to him had been watching her skate — and then watched her not come into view. He got so worried to not see her again, he double-parked and came racing out of his car to find her. He hauled her to feet asking if she was alright. She was about to scream for help, when he said, “GEEZ-LOUISE, YOU NEARLY GAVE ME HEART FAILURE!” She couldn’t figure out where he’d come from, nor what she’d done that was bad!

      She remained baffled for 5 more minutes after he smiled and dashed away, and thought how it was no wonder she had become the sort to spy on City Hall eave-pigeons with her telescope and spend her coin bonuses (“It’s rent change –for you!”) from the landlord on sardines and MAD magazines down at the corner store. Except for lilac time, she thought maybe her life was always going to be a little screwier than others’.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ann Coleman says:

    Wow…some memories are hard to live through, aren’t they? I guess the upside is that they helped form the compassionate person you are now. Still, I’m so sorry you had to live through all that!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a story, The details give a mystery appeal making us want to read more.

    Liked by 1 person

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