I should have known, but I knew that if Godfrey knew that I knew, he may not have set out home to Wales. He was tired, that last summer. Often too tired even for Daft Tuesdays, I caught him up once, winded on the landing, told me a spider had startled him..I should have known, but I let it go.
One last daft Tuesday- On Wharf Street, corner of Woebegone and Neglect, an art gallery had folded, replaced by a high end liquor store. Mid morning, Godfrey and I headed out, to see where the days daft may waft us. A beer crate laden tippler, looking the other way, as we passed, stepped on the insensitively located bowl of dog drinking water out side the shop. The cold contents splashed up Godfrey’s kilt..it was “feh” and” poopah”on the #50 bus with a wet behind…
“Dog water indeed”. So for lunch I introduced a new treat- Hummus, he ate an entire pint, “A savory he noted, unmarred by the intrusive beet”. His humor could be droll, yet he was never unkind, as he boarded the bus with a sodden behind. “Said, “I am sorry to the driver for the two dampish seats, he well knew us this chap, knew that Godfrey disliked beets.
At Fresh-Co’s- “I dislike beets, he told the young clerk, in produce who had not been long at the work. But he said it in Welsh, and more idioms silly, I warmed him, Welsh words will backfire on you Godfrey….
Was it the dog water?, The spinach dip at lunch?, an odd plant or biting bug he touched?. for he broke out in hives half way home on the bus, and though crowded, nobody sat near us. Godfrey itched, he itched like a pony at a fence post, itched deeper than a Chinese Mine, itched far worse than his sister drove, itched longer than Jaques Cousteau dove.
He itches, I told our odd neighbor, Mr Ghostley, peering out his door a crack. Of Mr Ghostley you ask? Our Land – lady Mrs Feerce once whispered to me, that he had not left his room since 1953. “He lowers his rubbish, by way of a contraption to the bin, and allows no one in, not even his cousin Father Paul. Father Paul once a week leaves groceries out in the hall. “I had peeked in his door, very tidy, many books, a cactus, and nothing more.’
Mr Ghostley and Godfrey played Scrabble, Godfrey stretched on the hall floor, Mr Ghostley reaching one long arm out the door. He refused to come any further out, I never asked what the two talked about.
This itches, squirmed Godfrey, as I scoured the loo, for the “Margo Alive” he bought when I had the flu, we mixed it with green flecked, herbal balm, and he slathered it on. As the welts go worse, came a rolling “clink” and tap at the door, an ancient dried up bottle of Calamine Lotion- kind cat-lady Miss Pettigrew’s contribution.
I gave Godfrey cornstarch to sprinkle in private, and an old sheet to cover my turquoise chair, he looked like Quasimodo in Kabuki makeup, sheet wrapped about him, curled up in despair. My husband took one look- said” should your breathing stop, run get me I will be down in the luggage shop”.
He was no buffoon, but had an unbridled sense of the absurd. And as was Godfrey’s way in times of pain, resorted to music and word. It itches, he strummed his guitar, I have the dreaded dog water itch, twas my morning to be caught up the kilt by a splash. A reckless chap carrying beer, water pan placed too near. Now I sit in the turquoise chair, in a sheet with hives I have here, here, and there. OH, I be allergic to many Naff things, rabbit dander, daisies, and all the small bug stings, I dislike beets, fear moths, dolls and old antique shops , yet only beets beat the misery the dog water rash brings.
By dawn the rash passed, it occured then to us- perhaps not poodle or soup-hound slobber caused it, it was all the hummus he ate, the hummus, the hummus, never after did Godfrey indulge in that deli. On our burnt fire escape, he sang all night in chorus, wrapped sticky in a sheet, had a boot thrown at him, twas the hummus…
All so many years past now…there are nights I’d sit up awake, on that partially burnt fire escape, knowing that letting him go was not about me, but fulfillment of his destiny. It’s been a rough summer, changes at the corner of Woebegone and Neglect, our crumbling character of a building” restored” to modern, clean and quiet . With paint dry, and scaffolding down, new owners came, Mrs Feerce has left town. Shed a tear for “The Bug Chandelier” And early this morning, without warning or say, a committee from the city came…and took Mr Ghostley away…