November 26, 2012 § Leave a comment
I kind of feel shy about putting myself out there, as I’m not used to being in the spotlight. After all, I run an import/export business right in my apartment, and I haven’t written for pleasure since I was in college. But I have the time right now. Business is down, what with those online wholesale sites that claim they can get you the choicest merchandise at rock-bottom prices. That’s bull. No website can possibly give you the kind of personal service that an experienced pro like myself can. And they miss the details that I never would. I even had one neighbor, who owns one of those chi-chi boutiques in Georgetown, tell me that she had ordered what she thought was a shipment of vintage cocktail dresses from France, only to find “made in China” labels sewn in every single one of them. Never would have happened with me. But I digress.
Maybe I should start calling myself the Princess of Pooks Hill. Dad did call me princess, until he died when I was twenty-five. I’ve been on my own for the last year, ever since Mom passed away. I live in the Pooks Hill Keep, a luxury community on Pooks Hill Road in Bethesda, Maryland. I’ve been living here since I graduated from college, ever since the car accident that put me in a wheelchair and compelled me to live with my parents. Dad sold one of his properties and bought us a penthouse apartment in the north tower, with an achingly beautiful view of the sunrise and the swimming pool. He moved the business into the third bedroom, and I became his partner.
It’s clear that I can handle logistics and being called “Your Highness.” If only someone would…
November 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
For the last couple of weeks I practiced going up and down the mild slopes of the suburbs surrounding the Keep. The one challenge was climbing up Pooks Hill, which took me forever to do. You should see how toned my arms are and my newly molded shoulders.
Rachel walked alongside me, blasting dance music from her phone, the 2:30 a.m. at a beach bar kind. Sometimes she’d squirt water into my mouth so I wouldn’t lose momentum. Once she playfully squirted some up my nose, which made me laugh. It made me mind less all those people passing me by, and their brief words of encouragement tossed like gravel in my direction before they turned the corner.
I finished. I was last, but at least I finished. Correction: Rachel and I finished last. We drove back to the Keep still wearing our hats shaped like turkeys and our racing numbers. It was a good day. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
November 19, 2012 § Leave a comment
Inside, Rachel started picking through the beautifully knit sweaters, looking for a flattering crew neck in in her man’s size. I slowly wheeled around the room, taking in the nervous salespeople and overpriced bars of chocolate and marzipan. I run my own import/export business, so matters of commerce always catch my eye, no matter how banal.
Rachel finally buys a sweater and joins me at a table for some coffee and cake. A very old man sits next to me, and we start talking. It turns out he also lives at the Pooks Hill Keep, although I’d never seen him before. He said his name, Otto Halldor Ostberg, in a curiously emphatic manner. Then he said something interesting.
“I have lived in the Keep for approximately fourteen years. But my time in that neighborhood goes back far longer than that.” He flexed his jaw, remembering.
He said he had come here during the Second World War, the child of a servant of the Norwegian Royal Family. There was a princess named Martha and royal children, and they had fled the Nazis. They moved into a mansion on the very grounds where the Keep stands today.
“Wow. This is all new to me,” I told him.
He smiled. “The most compelling secrets are too readily paved over here. But they simmer underneath.”
I’m dying to ask Otto more, and would have back at the church, but Rachel and I had to leave (she had received a text from her lover that his wife had taken their children out to the movies, and he was unexpectedly free). I can always talk to Otto later as I had insisted he give me his cell phone number.
November 17, 2012 § Leave a comment
It’s a beautiful day, and here I am in the parking lot of this church in Bethesda, Maryland. Normally at this time on a Saturday, I’m wheeling myself around my apartment building. There’s mail to collect, neighbors to greet, laundry to fold. Every once in a while, like today, I ditch the routine. Rachel Goldberg mentioned a couple of days ago this Norwegian festival that’s taking place today near downtown Bethesda. So I agreed to go. Only one condition: I drive, which is something I need to do more often.
I’m typing this as Rachel chats on the phone with her married lover. God, the woman needs an injection of common sense, or whatever the hell the Norwegians sell here. Maybe as part of an open face sandwich combo.
“Come on over if you can escape,” says Rachel, winking at her reflection in the windshield.
I can hear the smeared voice on the other end. Despite the sun, Rachel’s face clouds like wax paper as she abruptly says goodbye. She’s putting the phone back into her patent leather purse, so I better go. More about the festival later.