after her, the Mayor snorted to himself. Why else did she think heâd hung around the house? And this the fish storeâs biggest day.
Together they made their long way up the hill. Claire grudgingly kept to the opposite side of the street on Park Lane South. She would have liked to take the woods path but she didnât dare. She didnât know which she feared more: the murderer (who was most likely long gone) or Zinnieâs fiery wrath, should she find out, and so she stayed on the other side which was actually very pleasant, lined with mansions from another era and walled in luxurious privet hedging, thick with the unfenceable scents of late wisteria and roses.
Claire told the Mayor all about India as she walked, her memory jogged from the broad yellow heat and the smells and the comfortable shade of the trees. Her sandals made small cushy sounds on the slate and the Mayorâs long nails scratched along. She told him things sheâd never tell the others. They would just laugh or shake their heads or not believe her anyway.
The street was crowded up on Metropolitan; they pushed along past the piles of Korean vegetables, neat and brilliant in their tropical rows, then past the antique shops, up Lefferts, by the Jewish temple, and past the cluster of apartment houses until finally they came to the village, old-fashioned and European in style with Tudor walls and crockety red tile roofs. The Homestead Deli, with its good-looking wursts necklacing the lead-paned windows, might just as well have been a village shop in Munich or Zurich. And Regents Row resembled any pub in England. It was a potpourri and charming layout, Claire decided, delighted with the mixture of old world and new, the modern supermarket and the oriental music leaking from the Pakistani Spice Shop. One really could settle down here, so near and yet so far from anything-can-happen Manhattan. Why couldnât the murder have happened there, where it would seem to belong, instead of here, so close to her family? Hadnât they been through enough as it was? The dry dead face of Michael in his coffin came back to her in a rush and her mood was ruined. It was too hot after all, sheâd just run into the camera shop and hurry back home. Now where on earth was the Mayor?
A clattering of voices and the beginnings of shouts near the corner jolted her out of her reverie.
It was â¦ good God, it was the Mayor tug-of-warring a kosher chicken from a scull-capped, aproned shopkeeper! The Italian louts who held court in front of the pizzeria were howling with laughter andâwhat else?ârooting for the dog.
Claire, fleet-footed and all business, flew down to the hubbub and yanked the tooth-dented chicken from the fangs of the Mayor.
âBravo!â the Italians whistled and applauded, âBravo, bella signorina!â
The shopkeeper, highly offended, flailed his arms and whined and yelled a Yiddish tirade.
Truly sorry, embarrassed, and angry at the Mayor to boot, Claire reached into her purse and hauled out ten dollars.
â So eine scheisse !â the shopkeeper droned on and on, â Schauen Sie mal was der verdammte Hund mit meinem Laden gemacht hat !â
A small crowd had gathered. Claire peered into the cool darkness of the shop and saw, indeed, that the sawdust had been strewn with torn gizzards and three or four other hens, good as new.
She reached back into her purse and pulled out the last of what she had on her, a twenty dollar bill. The shopkeeper, sweat and dandruff glistening from his voluminous neck folds, yammered on in his guttural tongue. âTya!â he wailed. âWhat good is that little bit of geld when my entire store was kaputt ?â He went on to inform his audience that Claire was a â Schikse pipi mÃ¤dchen â with a âshit dog.â
That was it for Claire, whoâd understood each nasty word. âIs that right?!â she threw the chicken into the street and the
Poppy Z. Brite, Deirdre C. Amthor