was no queue. No one inside at all. The tableau included live chickens,
rabbits and a goat. These wandered inside a wire fence amid shabby and
unkempt statuary. The baby Jesus had a chipped nose. In the arched
space overhead, sparrows flew. A hulking Saint Christopher guarded
the door with a square, placid, dusty face. Anny was holding Simon’s
“I saw the German on the stairs,” she said. “She asked if I had seen dat
girl vit da ving in der nose? Ja oder nein?”
“Her accent’s not so bad,” Simon said.
“She seemed upset. I bet your girl took something from her.”
“A suitcase full of suspenders,” he joked. “Maybe we should hide it. We
could put it up on the backside of the hot-water tank in the bathroom.
No one would find it there unless they climbed up on a chair to look.”
“I have no idea why we would do that.”
“In case someone breaks into the apartment. I promised to keep it
safe.” He had decided to push her a little.
But she only touched the buttons of her coat and looked up at Saint
Christopher. “I think it’s funny you carry around that spoon,” she said.
“Do you stir your coffee with it?”
Simon’s hand was sweating, and he extracted it from Anny’s. “I carry
it to remind myself to be bitter toward my son.”
“Jesus,” she said. “Stop that.”
“What else should I do with it? Give it to someone named ‘Dale’?”
“It’s not as if he raped your mother.”
“Jesus,” Simon said, but laughing. “You know for him I’d claw out my
own heart bare-handed.” He grimaced. “But—” He let it go.
They stopped in a bar on Plaza de San Francisco and ordered the usual
stuff, tortilla, espinacas, patatas bravas.
“There could be anything in that suitcase,” Anny said. “Drugs.
Counterfeit bills. Terrorist accoutrements.” She repeated, “
Accoutrements,” and giggled. They were sitting at the bar, and she had her arm
on the back of Simon’s chair. She touched his shoulder.
“Did something happen back home?” Simon asked.
When they’d finished eating Anny said, “Let’s not go back to the
apartment yet. I want ice cream.” They crossed a litter-strewn park
where the punks and hippies wandered in the mud and sold pot to one
another. They made their way, one behind the other, down a street too