Saturday, November 9, 2013

This Place

Greenwich Village, 1958.

Jimmy wants me to meet him here today because his family is thinking of buying the place and moving their bakery into this building. It’s just a few blocks from where the old bakery is now.

The real reason, I guess, is he wants us to be alone, because this building has been vacant about a year. But I’m not going to stay here long. This place always gives me the creeps!  I don’t think Jimmy’s family should buy it. I think it’s haunted.

I’ve seen ghosts walking by the window at least three times when we’ve been by here. Jimmy always laughs at me but it’s true.

I’m kind of engaged to Jimmy. I can’t wear a ring or anything because mama would go crazy. Both mama and Papa want me to marry an Italian man, and I know the one they’re thinking of, too. But he's barely said a word to me.

The gypsies say I’ll marry a sweet man with a sweet tooth; wouldn’t that be Jimmy? He buys me roses for Valentine’s Day and my birthday, but Mama won’t look at him. Of course, she doesn’t know I’ve been to the gypsy fortuneteller either.

I don’t tell Mama and Papa a lot of things I do. I’ve been working with them at Rocco’s since I was seven in one way or another, dishing out ices or bringing plates to customers. Why can’t I choose my own guy?

I can, when I’m eighteen. Jimmy wants us to get married the day after my birthday, but that makes me laugh. I don’t know when I want to get married, but I want it to be in church. I want my family to come and I’m not going to elope in some burned-out old jalopy.

Mama says Jimmy doesn’t have money for marriage, but one day he’s going to own that bakery. Papa asks if I want to be a storekeeper’s wife, like I haven’t spent my whole life in a restaurant already. But he says I should be dreaming bigger.

If I marry the guy Mama likes, she says I’ll be rich and I won’t have to work, just raise the kids and stay home. But what would I do all day? I like kids, but what about my life? I don't even know what I want to do. 

This place wouldn’t make a good bakery. I think it would be better as a restaurant, a really fancy restaurant with a resident ghost. They could make up stories about it and let people up on the sixth floor with special admission. Maybe have a haunted dinner party once a month and you’d pay extra money to be there.

I’m going to tell Jimmy about that. I can’t believe his family is going to buy this place, anyway. They’d have so much work to do. His dad and Jimmy are really handy, but it would take years to fix up this building.

Something I keep forgetting to tell Jimmy. I like roses, but I really love orchids. I think he should mix it up once a while, maybe roses on Valentine’s and orchids on my birthday. Would he still get me flowers after I marry him?

I wish he would show up already.  I could swear there’s—look. They just pulled back from the window. I'm not crazy, right? You see it? 

Drawing: Jackson Muenster

Italian ices: Ben Cappellacci

Ghost in window: Adam Norwood