A Singular Man

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1

MY name is George Smith. I get up on the right side of the bed every morning because I pushed the left to the wall. I'm in business. I sleep naked between the sheets. And these days always alone unless for accidental encounters.

Barefoot in the bathroom. Standing on the warm tiles where I had the management hire an artist to make a mosaic of a turkey cock with its feathers out. Trampling this in the early morning has always made me feel unsneaky. I shave shower and dress. Use talc on my private particulars, not wanting to get it into my lungs. Where it gives a funny taste to the first morning smoke.

Matilda brings breakfast. Waddling in bubbling with her hefty good natured muscle. I hired her on the street when I dropped a paper bag with two bulbs of garlic. She came after me with it, refused reward and I asked her would she take a job. She ladles out the scrambled egg-

Looking the mail over. Shivering somewhat. This month of sleet with icicles hanging from the window sills. Take the skewer to the envelope and nip the silver point under the flap, dig through the fold and slice.

Box 0006

The Building

December 13th

You well know which year.

George Smith Esq.

Flat 14

Merry Mansions

2 Eagle Street

Dear Sir,

Only for the moment are we saying nothing.

Yours etc,

Present Associates

Lingering over coffee to think. Ha ha. Detach this first tremor of amusing fear. Only shot through rapier like the alimentary tube, merely lurking where Smith hopes things come out all right in the end. Do not relish being accosted with knowing the year. Nine fifteen this Friday morning on the east side of town.

2

GEORGE Smith's slouched figure appeared out from under the orange canopy of number'Two Eagle Street. Hugo the doorman nodded. Sun out. The morning crisp with hardy sparrows chirping on this eleventh day till Christmas.

Stocky tugs dragging dark barges hoot hoot on the river. Bows a flood with yellow water dripping from the twine. In the park hard grey branches on winter trees. And kiddies with such young mommies, playing in the sand.

Smith darkly dressed and stately walking down the avenue talking to himself without moving the lips. Saying things like, show people you're in command of the situation by not saying much, don't let them get in close, keep everyone at arm's length, stop smiling kindly.

Last night at Two Eagle Street there'd been a party. Figures waltzing in as Hugo white gloved and grey uniformed ceremoniously bowed them in the glass doors. Smith had nipped up the carpeted blue stairs to the Goldminer's flat above. In the glow of a roaring fire between wilting plants George stood briefly with other guests in the subtropical apartment. A member of the party approaching in her late forties wearing a tight black dress, pearls between breasts, hair swept up in a sheen round her head and she said ten feet away pointing to Smith, I'll bet he knows a lot. Offering George her outstretched smooth hand, bracelets all up the vintage brown arm, there was a quick shake. Smith was flattered being only in the early thirties but looking older since running his own business and signing contracts. It would have been nice to ask her down to bed fifteen feet away through the ceiling.

Two miles south of Eagle Street along the river and highway past the high white walls of a hospital for humans. Further under a vast dark bridge and the Animal Medical Center, George Smith turned off the avenue of lurking doormen and down a commercial street. Left into an entrance