From Adelaide and Benny, seeking their trunk, to Iceland bound artists Ginger and Lonewolf, and our much loved Hawken, Godfrey’s blithe, ever present spirit brought many a character to our luggage shop door. I do not hold him responsible for the chap whom, every Friday lets his rabbit hop about as he browses, and never buys anything, or the “Cream Pie Lady”, who feels safe sitting among the suitcases, eating a shoplifted cream pie. But he did bring us Maria Adora Cuabangbang, we think of her often, and wonder how she is doing…
He met her on the #50 bus, did my friend the vagabond Godfrey. For the odd young man would happily chat, to anyone of anything but the dreaded beet. He invited Maria Adora Cuabangbang, from bus stop to luggage shop so we could meet.
She regarded the cobwebs in my window display, and showcase of belt buckles, dead plants and dust balls, accepted Red Rose tea in the only mug with a handle, no chip or crack, sipped politely on the non wobbly chair, that did not pinch your behind, behind in the back.
“Sgraffito”, The silly non-silence, that decent over biscuits, coffee or tea. Has it ever been written about, or described eloquently?. “Sgraffiito”, Godfrey called it, “the search for errant crumb side of ones mouth, the not wishing to guzzle, the vague need to know you must ask after the Loo, hoping a toilet exists if you do.
“Sgraffito”- The shame of accidental spill or slurp, the odd awkward blurt of three people asking same question, same moment of snagged time, losing your biscuit, bottom of the cup to careless dunking, loud crackle as you grope for last in the packet..bell of shop door, breaks the spell of “Sgraffito”, trip over each other as you hurry off in answer to it.
Maria Adora Cuabangbang, became a neighbor of ours, across the hallway from reclusive Mr Ghostley. “He is shy, said kind Maria, a study through the door in whiskers, left a doormat rolled up by way of welcoming me”.
Maria Adora Cuabangbang, tended our luggage shop when we left on a camping holiday. Reliable, cheery, handy with duster and bug spray, Maria played the lottery, answered the phone, helped the infrequent customer. Determined to win, on scratchy, Keno or Casino, she told Godfrey, “I will swim to my ship, when I win big, you wait and see”
He was an odd young man who disliked beets, and Maria Adora Cuabangbang loathed them to, they worked well together, not speaking of beets, as those who truly cannot abide beets often do.
Maria Adora Cuabangbang is indeed gone. The #50 bus passes by without Maria getting on. Maria had a slight accent, I did not ask from where, wore a straw sun hat all year long, over thick, coal black hair. I sought her name, with lottery winners in the paper, waited for a letter, Godfrey reckoned Maria drifted on as was her habit, where she felt the gambling odds were better.
Landlady Mrs Feerce, had me read a note pinned on her apartment door, “I, Maria Adora Cuabangbang, have swam out to meet my ship and do not live here anymore”. I have pinched a suitcase, (watertight) in lieu of wages due, when I arrive, will write to all of you”. “Outside Mr Ghostley’s door is a toaster, a box of groceries, and a sock I found that may be one of Godfrey’s”.
“To this day, in the luggage shop, so long ago named for Godfrey, “No Pasaran Beets” reads the sign above the door…I oft expect to see her when I look to clang of cow-bell..but Maria Adora Cuabangbang is gone, Maria wields her feather duster no more…