The Chelsea floor-through apartment where I had recently moved was long and narrow with no closets but it did have a fireplace. An unstained wooden wardrobe served as a closet and I kept a hatchet next to the pile of logs in front of the fireplace to chip off kindling
It was morning when I heard the knock on the door. It was my neighbor from across the hall.
“Shelly, what’s happenin’?” I asked, ready for a new day and another reason to party.
“Do you remember last night?” she asked.
“I don’t know. I was home all night. Why?”
“You were screaming you were gonna kill Fleetwood so I got Bea down the hall ‘cause I knew she had a key to your place. When we came in we found you banging around in the wardrobe with a hatchet screaming, ‘I’m going to kill you Fleetwood. I’m going to kill you.’”
I was silent — I didn’t know the person Shelly was talking about and besides…Fleetwood looked the same as always.
Shelly held me captive in her sights.
“Doreen — You’re an alcoholic.”
I was imagining the person she was describing with a hatchet in her hand the night before rattling around in the wooden wardrobe that suddenly resembled a coffin standing on end.
“Poor little Fleetwood,” I thought.
Shelly had me.
“My mother’s a therapist…and I think you should go see her.”
Later, Shelly had told me she knew someone who would love Fleetwood and I agreed to give her a new home. When I dropped her off at someone named Lois’s 14th Street apartment building and set him down on the shiny lobby floor Lois sang out, “Come here Fleetwood,” He scurried into his new mommy’s arms without ever looking back.
– Through another’s eyes sometimes I can see more clearly than my own –