“Castle of Ambiguity”–from Difficult People

Castle of Ambiguity



          The landlady descended the stair with a heavy tread. Glasses clinked behind a door. Outside, leftovers from Saturday night on a tray. A clear warm sun fell through the window and warmed the casement, chair and bed. Old castle. Damp walls of ancient quarry stone, now snugly insulated. All the modern gadgets. Off-season rates.

          Glad to see you. Long drive up the coast? Rain and fog yesterday.

          Funny that odd old man on the cliff, he was swaying, hands over head. Like a signal to a boat out in the bay.

          Maybe. So much unknown, landlady says without a glance.

          Ambiguity. Filling the emptiness—the spaces between here and there. Course, ambiguity’s here and over there. Goodness. So much of life just little cars on tracks, go here, stop there. 3rd Street. All out.

          Imagine you’ve forgotten the address. Don’t know where your friend lives. Start with hunches. Narrow it down.

          Mystery and ambiguity are close bedfellows. Lovers? That’s confusing things.

          Try—hand in glove—something happens: you get off the bus on 3rd Street. March straight to your friend’s apartment in the city. Climb the stair. Knock.

          No answer.

          Odd. Should be here. Double-check number, yes, 4-C. Name…wait a minute…4C…but a different name. Entirely. Foreign looking. Maybe Greek. Something’s off. Outside you see you’ve got the wrong building. Easy enough…but the number you’ve been given, 34 3rd Avenue…wait, it doesn’t appear to exist. Street or Avenue?

          Crowds pass. You ask a local type. Scratch head. Don’t know. Maybe you copied it wrong. But no, they wrote the address on a slip of paper, hurriedly in the elevator descending to the street…Friday escape. Gone in a flash.

          Later now and all that. Standing there…lost and found. No phone number. Private listing. Might have played a trick. Regardless, after that…had to get away…out of the city…weekend in a castle of ambiguity.



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