“In The Apartments Next To Mine” Book Excerpt 4

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“Oh goodness, yes!” Her eyes lit up. “I have been since I was a little thing. My first…” Her sentence interrupted by the conductor. “Castle Hill Avenue next” He announced. Disappointment washed over her face as she watched him gather his bags in his hand. The talk was a delight and it just began. He pursed his lips with a sigh. “Sorry. This is my stop…” He said, sadly.

“I enjoyed our talk; you have a wonderful evening…” She stopped. She realized they never introduced themselves. “Owen…I enjoyed meeting you..?”

“Agnes…”

“Well. Agnes, I guess we’ll have to finish this some other time…bye” He waved and walked out the door. Agnes, lifted her glasses above her head, smiled and followed him down the platform with her eyes. Once the train left in station, she opened her book and continued reading.

Owen nearly ran into a pole looking back at the car where Agnes was sitting. With each step down the stairs, he smiled a little more…

Exhausted from standing on the long lines and shopping, Owen rushed down the stairs to the platform only to be met by hordes of hot, sweaty bodies.

“6 train arriving in one minute,” the automated voice rang out.  No chance of sitting today, he thought.  The train rushed into the station with a gush of steaming heat ahead of it.  A few strands of blond hair streamed across Owen’s face, like microscopic ribbons, from the woman in front of him.  When the doors opened, the herd of humans poured out of the doors stampeding all who stood in their way.  Though he stepped to the side, he couldn’t avoid the smearing of lotions, perfume, sweat and dirt he received.  Owen looked down at his shirt, took a deep breath, clutched his bag handles tight, then pressed on his pocket to crank up his music and stepped into the car, then assumed his position as the next sardine in the can.

He tried his best to ignore the tourist with their camera phones, maps, backpacks and bewildered looks…but he couldn’t.  Especially since a group of  acrobats were standing on his feet, crushing his bags, had their map in his face and elbows extended, taking pictures and all without missing a beat.  Lord, I’m about to lose my religion! he thought.

       At that very moment he looked through the window of the next car and saw…What’s her name again? Agnes!  That’s it!”  The thought calmed his heart and made him smile.  The train passed through Manhattan and entered the Bronx, he finally got a seat but when he looked through the window, the woman was gone.  Did I imagine it? he thought.

Three weeks later, while seated in the corner seat, he noticed her sitting next to him in the next car in the same seat; she was reading a book.  She ran he fingers through her hair then turned the page.  Agnes looked up briefly to see Owen in the car beside her.  She was puzzled for a moment as to why a man was staring at her.  Then she remembered…she smiled at him, and then continued reading but the warm smile remained with her for a few more stops.

Two weeks later, juggling 2 bags full of melons, pineapples and peaches, Owen shot down the subway stairs and crashed into a wave of straphangers coming up.  “Excuse me…excuse me!” he announced.  But the current was too strong.  He was struck mid-way, being pushed to and fro.  He reached the bottom just as the train left the station.  “@#@!,” he slumped back against the column and dropped his bags.

       “Uptown 6 train arriving in 1 minute,” the machine voice called.  He inhaled deeply and stepped dangerously close to the edge of the platform.  His t-shirt waved across his chest as the hot breeze entered the station before the train.  Owen closed his eyes and imagined himself standing on a beach.  When the train stopped, he opened his eyes to see Agnes sitting inside.  Stepping into the train, he immediately chuckled.  “It’s you again.”  She blushed and raised her hand to her mouth, covering her delight at his remark.  “So, are you on a lunch break?  It was noon.

“No, silly thing,” she giggled.  “I’ve long since retired.  Maybe I’m looking for you.”

A serious look fell on his face.  “Really…?”  There was a long pause.

 

Taken from “The Pelham Affair”

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“In The Apartments Next to Mine” Book Excerpt 1

 

2015 book trailer (5)The doors closed…

 

We sat across from each other. She’s tired from the journey through the years, me from the day’s travel…She looked down staring in her hands as if in deep thought.  I stared at the thick hunter green veins spreading up her arms from her hands like cob webs. Her weathered skin covered in brown spots; hair like fur all over her forearms.

My eyes traveled south to her legs; arthritis had moved in, bags, furniture and all. Her scrawny ostrich legs were capped by knees nearly bigger than her whole body.  She was wearing beautiful, sensible black shoes. The kind you would take to a craftsman to repair; a cobbler, whose skills the young women have no need of – they tend to throw out worn shoes. She was from a different era, she knows the value of a well-made shoe and her generation, poor as they were, kept things and repaired them often.

My eyes floated back up to her hands they trembled a little; her decrepit joints mimicked falcon claws as she scratched through her hand bag. In search of what – her youth, some gum, a thought she could not remember…? I continued to scale up her person…The classy knee length, carbon colored skirt was complemented by a cherry red cashmere cardigan sweater. Her head was still down but I could see her timeworn face. Fuzz blanketed her sad, shar pei expression.  Her frail shoulders stiffly moved as she continued to claw through the bag. The stubborn gray fought against the boxed blond and won the fight. It didn’t seem to matter to her,  She still pinned it up like a 1940’s movie starlet. She had the class and charm to go with it. Curiosity filled my marrow as her trembling head lifted…I wondered what she looked like in her youth…

Our eyes latched.  My head tilted like the old RCA victor dog and suddenly through her cataracts blue eyes, I was whisked back to the 1940’s. I heard a swing band playing in my head; it slowly grew louder in my ears. I looked up…I was no longer on the 6 train.  I was listening to the A Train and Ella was singing it. “Look,” I thought. “There she is.”  She was standing against the wall wearing the same clothes, tapping her foot and gently applying bright red lipstick. She was 70 years younger, with clear blue eyes like the Caribbean ocean. I walked toward her to ask for her dance card but McCullin’s arms were already around her waist.

They would have danced all night but a husky voice burst through the air and ordered the men back to their base…they were shipping out. I stood motionless as their hands, like time, slipped away. She never saw corporal McCullin again but like many girls waiting for their guy to come home, she took his name, Mrs. McCullin.  Her ruby red lips parted to a half smile with warm tears dripping on her cardigan as she turned and waved to me…I heard the faint voice of the conductor in the background.  As the subway doors closed, she stood on the platform searching in her bag…for her dance card.

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   “The Widow McCullin” and more can be found inside…