Mind the ice, says Didi. We shuffle across the parking lot. My stomach rumbles. Have to feed the monsters, says Didi. She reaches inside her yellow trench coat and pulls out a paper bag. She opens the bag. Crispy edges. She claws the object. It is foiled. And glowing. I open the glowing foil. Inside is a fluffy bun with strawberry jam in the middle. The butter already melted into it. I swallow the bread. And also the red jam. The seeds pop on my tongue.
Didi does the finger curl and I follow. We open the newly painted door. White paint fumes spike my nostrils. The door is waterlogged. We have to lean against it. We have to put our shoulder to the wheel.
There is sign that says windy which really means elevator. But the elevator is broken. We climb the winding stairs. The wind whistles my ears. Erects my arm hair. At the top of the stairs a glowing white robe with hood. We approach the hooded one. As we near the top, we see his brush. It glides along the walls. Red and yellow stripes. He turns towards us. The hooded one takes down his hood.
Behold, he says. The words of a painter. When water painting add a teaspoon of Vanilla extract to 5 gallons of paint before mixing. MMMMM…is somebody baking cookies? Oil paints need a very large onion. Cut in half and put both pieces in the area. Leave overnight.
The painter pivots slowly. Points to room 0406.
Let’s skedaddle, says Didi.
We open the door and the paper flutters. Crayon drawings on the walls. All the drawings are windows. The door closes behind us. I move towards the crayon windows. All the drawings come in pairs. One yellow crayoned window equals open. One red crayoned window equals shut. I flip them back and forth.
Didi does the finger whistle and I follow her into another room. The room is large, and mostly empty, except for two males, six packed and watermeloned, staring at their computer screens. My right eye has gone squinty. It is a deflated football. I rub it into focus. I wave but they don’t wave back. The two males don’t blink. They aren’t typing. They are only staring at their screens. Triangle calves. Sheer fabric. Two rocks with perfect cleavage. Ripe, I say. True dolls, says Didi.
We swing open the other door. There is a bald man. He is sanding a wooden table down to its innards. He scrubs the table, wipes his forehead, swigs vodka. Straight from the bottle. He holds up the bottle in greeting and rubs the bison. Special grass, he says. Longhorns, says Didi giving him the shoulder nudge.
Longhorns takes off his horned helmet and lays out three leather cases. He dials the numbers. One clicks open. I lean down. Glass eyeballs. Painted yellow and red. Wrong one, he says. He dials the numbers and it clicks open. I lean down. A helmet. Painted yellow and red with many screws. Wrong one, he says. Third time lucky, he says. He dials the numbers. It clicks open. His arm disappears inside. All the way to his elbow. Didi dry cleans my ear with her breath. Greenbacks, she whispers. Longhorn puts his other arm inside the briefcase. Then his head, torso, legs. Gone fishing, says Didi.
Didi pulls me into another room. All the curtains are pulled. It is dark. Smells like old bananas. Didi hands me a plastic bottle with orange liquid. It is half full. Drink, she says. It is orange tang. Maybe. Someone knocks on the door and Didi opens it. The man has a handlebar moustache and many craters. General, says Didi giving him the shoulder nudge. They whisper in the hallway. When he speaks to Didi it sounds like bees underwater.
The general leaves and we sit on the ratty brown couch. Didi scoots. Finally some quality time together, she says. We rub our bum cheeks together. I do my little drummer and lean back into the cushions. Didi does the bounce. Then we bend over for the milkings. Puddles on the coffee table.
I rock the adirondack and look out the small port window. There is a giant green frog. On a yellow background. White writing underneath it. On a red background. It says Zabka. Zabka means little frog in Polish. I don’t know what a Polish frog shop is doing in Tumbleweed. A frog is a tailless amphibian with a short squat body, moist smooth skin, and very long hind legs for leaping. A Frog House (Polish: kamienica Pod Żabami) is an example of art nouveau architecture in the city of Bielsko-Biała, in southern Poland’s Silesia Province. It features two frogs seated over the entrance, one smoking a pipe and the other playing a mandolin, while beetles roam freely over the walls.
The zabka sign is glowing.
I look at my hands. They are almost transparent.
Then they are not.
I look out the port window. A small team of neckless men on horses. I can’t tell if they are moving towards or away from the building. Didi cups my hand. Leads me into a small storage room. It is very musty. Waterlogged cheese.
Stay here. Don’t open the door. Only for me, she says.
OK, I say.
Didi doesn’t look worried. But she doesn’t look not worried either. She carries the same expression. Always. I can hear her shiny black boots tapping down the spiralling stairs. I shut the door. I listen. I think I can hear a crowd gathering. I dead-bolt the door three times. I wait.