The Words over at Three Word Wednesday are break, negative and surface. This is a reworking of an old piece of flash that I’ve never been quite happy with in parts, mostly the ending.
My agent convinces me that a move to into the city will be good for my career, which has cooled since I took a break and moved into the outer boroughs.
I say OK, but nothing pretentious. No SoHo loft, nothing in Tribeca.
I ask my assistant to find me something sensible, sedate, but with good on-street parking.
He finds me a small one-bedroom in a rent-controlled high-rise with a doorman who wears a long purple jacket and a black derby hat.
“It’s the next big thing, as far as areas go,” my assistant assures me. “And I’m only eight blocks away, if you should need anything.”
Moving day arrives and I drive into the city with a few necessities – sheets that smell like home, favorite books, alarm clock, laptop – and I walk through the tiny space and take mental snapshots of my new nest.
There’s a knock at the door and I open it to find a tiny woman in a Chanel suit the color of Pepto-Bismol. She’s carrying a small, pink pastry box tied with white twine.
“Mr. Bascomb, my name is Mrs. Levitz and I just want to say how happy we are that you’re moving in,” she says. “Here at the Constantine, we’re all very big fans – who will absolutely protect your privacy like our very own.”
The box in filled with four monster cupcakes, two chocolate, one red velvet and one that looks like vanilla, with toasted coconut sprinkles covering the entire frosted surface. I thank her for her generosity and she’s already waddling down the hall, waving a hand and reassuring me that my solitude is safe.
I stare at the cupcakes and realize they’re the only food in the place.
I grab my coat, hat and head out to find the nearest market. There’s a slight drizzle, so I duck under a black-and-red striped canvas awning where there’s bins of apples, oranges, fresh-cut flowers. The doorbell jingles its little tune and I pick up a red-handled basket and start down the aisle.
Next to the coffee and teas, there’s a display for catheters and enemas.
Near the dairy case, a giant display of rubber bondage suits.
Next to the cereal and oatmeal, equestrian tack - whips, crops, bit gags.
There are shiny metal speculums mixed in with the cheese graters; nipple clamps on an end-cap near produce; all manner of dildos and vibrators near the beer and wine.
The entire back wall of the shop is one big magazine and DVD rack, with titles like WhAP (Women who Administer Punishment), Leather Journal, Whiplash, Lesbian Cat Fights and ToeKiss.
I decide it’s time to check out.
The girl at the check stand is early 20s, her hair raven-dark and she wears it like Betty Page. She’s in a black leather bodice, held together with red satin ribbon. Over her black leather pencil skirt, she’s wearing a white apron.
“Did you find everything OK?” she asks, eying me suspiciously as she rings up my purchases – a quart of milk, loaf of wheat bread, Swiss cheese, Parma ham, a couple apples and oranges, a bottle of Merlot.
“Just fine, thanks,” I say, trying for an even tone, nothing too stupid or negative.
“Nipple clamps are on sale today,” she says.
“That’s OK, thanks.”
“It’s Thursday, so all latex is 30 percent off.”
“I’m good, really.”
“Here, then, can’t let you go away empty-handed,” and thrusts a small tube into my palm, the label reads “Stroke 29, Masturbation Cream.”
I rush out, flush, and nearly flatten Mrs. Levitz. The small tube of lube falls, rolls, stops at the toe of one of her pink shoes. She picks it up, reads the label through cat-eye bifocals attached to her with a gold chain.
“Mr. Bascomb, tisk, tisk, tisk” she says, hands me the lotion.
And she waddles away, waving a hand and mumbling about my solitude.
I look back at the store, the sign reads “Food & Fetish.” And fish into my jacket for my cell, hit speed dial for my assistant.
To tell him that my transition from the suburbs will be much more gradual.