Thursday, May 31, 2007

Mortality and Citrus

Whalehead King went to Shallett’s Laundry today. Regular readers may wonder why Shallett’s Laundry keeps making regular appearances in our hero’s adventures. It is because the staff of Shallett’s Laundry is a dandy’s best friends. Every clothes horse in New London finds himself or herself regularly at the corner of Montauk Avenue and Bank Street. It is not just because they are stuck in traffic or visiting the soup kitchen. It is because they value their wardrobe.

Whalehead King exchanged pleasantries with the people who keep him looking his best. He walked through the press room where the pressers were singing opera amongst themselves. He visited Maria, the tailor, about a pair of pants. Maria was peeling an orange so intently that she didn’t notice Mr. King was ready to be fitted. That is the kind of concentration she brings to bear on her sewing. It is why she never misplaces a stitch.

After she had laced the hems and the waist of the pants with pins, Mr. King changed back to his street wear. When he pulled the dressing room curtain he saw Maria was back at her orange. He said good-bye but she didn’t hear him. She was taking a bite out of a wedge of orange and her little work area smelled like citrus.

On other business, the best dressed man in New London stopped at the counter. Susan was her usual bright spot in Whalehead King’s day. He lingered awhile to discuss mortality and all or our ultimate reward. Susan appears to think she looks her age. Mr. King had no idea how old she is until she told him. He was astounded. He had always thought he was the elder by eighteen years, not the other way around.

As Susan and Whalehead King finished up their conversation with talk of getting ready to dig holes, the staff in the press room stuck up a stirring chorus from the finale of Aida. On that note, Mr. King tipped his fedora and made his way downtown.

One note to the general public: When you see Whalehead King speeding and leaning deeply around a corner or doing some tricky lane splitting on State Street, do not shout his name. Though our hero is regularly unflappable and focused on what he is doing, it is best not to tempt fate. Mr. King had his little Metropolitan in a wheelie today when Frank the Handyman shouted out to him and waved. Our hero was tempted to wave back, like the Lone Ranger on Silver, but thought better of it. Frank just got a nod.

In good Estrogen-and-Tonic tradition, we have pulled a switcheroo today. To read about New London writ large, Click Here.

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