Old Pete

February 1982
Ballard District, Seattle, Washington

We hide in the closet every day, the telling smell of the forbidden fruit for which some dread thing will happen to us if it be known, here in this old hotel. Huge wide corridors, painted walkways, squared in green and light green. Alice’s tunnel. Pete lives here, just around the corner and down the hall. He’s old. And he talks to himself, changing his voice now and then just for the company. Yesterday I met him in the hall, outside our door.

“What’s your name?”

He slaps himself with his open hand, cuffs himself across the neck, jiggles as if someone else is hitting him and he’s trying to duck.

“Don’t know who the hell I am.” He pulls at his sweater sleeve, bangs his shoulder with the palm of his hand. “My name’s Pete. What’s yours?”

Frances. I like you.”

He walks away, looking back to see if I’m still here, to see if I’m watching. “I like you too.”

He mutters, as he rounds off the square corner to the next hallway.

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