Ties that Bind



 by Ruth Z. Deming
Do you believe it? Rejected again. I hate being negative, all four-hundred forty pages of us, but the blond, in her sexy green negligee, like a character from our book, leafed through it, fanning her face with our pages, and then shoved it back on the lower shelf of her end table.
Our next hope was the woman with the swollen ankles. She’d come to bed here at LaQuinta Hotel in New Orleans, remove her soft pink socks, and massage those fat ankles of hers. High blood pressure? Myocardial infarction? Who knows. We’re not doctors. She stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, massaging those feet and reading us. Once she vanished for a few moments, leaving the room door ajar – we worried about her – and returned with a bag of crunchy pretzels that salted our pages.
This same silly woman put us in the waste basket on the last day of her stay. Do you have any idea what this means? We are quite smart.  After all, our author is Philip Margolin, one of the few Jewish crime writers. You’ve heard of crematoriums, of course. Not just at the concentration camps, but for people and pets who don’t wish to rot in the ground.   
Yes, I’m sure we were headed straight for the incinerator. Burnt alive like Jeanne d’Arc or Fra Savonarola. Thank God Galileo recanted, or his ashes would be spread all over Tuscany.  
Luckily, the woman with the swollen ankles, now clad in black sneakers, a maroon beret clapped over her ears, and a snuggly warm jacket, returned. She had recanted. And placed us on the lower shelf of the end table next to the wall.  
Chapter Thirty-Four announced “Pink Socks” had checked out. Her wheeled suitcase was removed by Andre, who rolled it onto the servants’  elevator. We were getting used to our new home, rather dark on the shelf, but certainly warm enough. Chapter One, who usually starts off the conversations, said she hoped someone who loved the Jack Reacher novels or Ellery Queen would discover us and turn to page one.
Pitter patter! Pitter patter! We heard the early morning rain from our suite on the top floor of the hotel. Since “Pink Socks” had checked out, Maria pushed her cart into the room to clean up.
“Mierda!” we heard her say. Spanish for “shit.” Then a tirade about how “Pink Socks” didn’t leave her a tip. Wrote some excuse that the tour bus paid the gratuities.
We prayed the next guest would discover our book.
“Be of good cheer,” said Chapter Twenty-Three.
We reminisced. “Why on earth did the lady in the green negligee decline our easy-to-read print? We’re light as a teardrop,” said eloquent Chapter Four. “She could have held us aloft in the air like a glass of red wine.”
 Did we panic? Did we hyperventilate? Did we need a paper bag stuffed over our pint-sized little book?
But of course not.
Around noon the rain stopped, and we heard an elderly gent who walked with a cane walk across the beige carpeted floor. Grunting, he sat in the easy chair and pulled out a pipe.
“Jeez,” we thought in unison. “Can’t the guy read?”
“Hotel LaQuinta,” read the sign. “Will assess a two-hundred dollar cleaning fee for smoke damage.”  
We heard him make a phone call.
“Henry Graham,” he said. “Please wake me at six a.m.” Then he yawned.
It’s not often we know their names. Green Negligee, Pink Socks, Henry Graham.
He lay atop the bedspread and began to snore. Suddenly, with a start, he awoke.
“Where am I?” he mumbled, stepping off the bed and looking out the window.
“If it’s Tuesday, it must be New Orleans. Damn bus trip.”
He lay back on the bed, this time on his tummy, and looked over at the end table. At us!
“Philip Margolin!” he cried aloud. “Hope I haven’t read this one.”
Pedro Aragon lay naked on a white sand beach in the arms of a lithe, brown-skinned woman who smelled of hibiscus.

“Perfect!” he said, grabbing us and looking at Phil’s picture on the back cover. Certainly not young anymore, he wears a tie, his suit jacket folded across his shoulder. Gives him the air of a Yale professor contemplating his next lecture.

Henry undressed, leaving his clothes on the floor, and pulled out some flannel pajamas from his overnight bag. Then he went over to the bureau and picked up his pipe. He sniffed the bowl, lit it with his Zippo lighter, and sat down in the easy chair. Smoke filled the air, and we were intoxicated with joy. Henry Graham was reading us. Right here in the French Quarter of the Big Easy. Right here in New Orleans. His laughs, grunts and clucks told us what we wanted to know. He loved us.

RUTH Z. DEMING, a psychotherapist and winner of a Leeway Grant for Creative Nonfiction, writes poetry and prose from her home in Willow Grove, PA, suburban Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in publications such as Creative Nonfiction, Haggard and Halloo, and Hektoen International. A mental health advocate, she runs New Directions Support Group for people and families affected by depression and bipolar disorder.

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Belle Rêve Literary Journal is a southern literary experience. Our mission is to capture everything that makes the South and its residents unique through the best contemporary literature we can find. We publish new works weekly.