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Dennis found the innards in the Panhandle near Masonic and immediately named it a Seedasoom. Most likely dropped off from a car heading in on Fell or out on Oak by someone who did not want to pay dump fees. Dennis got James to help lift and carry, not drag it, through the eastern tip of the park, across Lincoln and up Sixth Avenue. At the base of their building they paused on the sidewalk in front of the steps to recoup their energy, took a few deep breaths and ascended to the landing. The front door opened wide, they hefted the thing up the stairs bumping into the frangible embossed wall covering in several places puncturing it. The wainscoting in the hallway fared no better.
At last they trundled it into the living room and there, amid the piles of pillows, in front of the shallow coal fireplace with its high mirrored mantle, they set it down and fell back on the shabby sofa Michelle had found in the Panhandle two weeks prior.
Harold heard the bumping noises and came to investigate. He and James watched as Dennis bent and plucked one of the strings just as Sean entered the room.
“What the hell is that doing here?” Sean asked indignantly. He preferred items with which he was familiar. He was not acquainted with a naked upright piano harp lying on his living room floor.
“Heavy,” was all Jimmy said.
“What’d ya expect? Probably cast iron under that yellowgold paint.” Dennis had a working man’s knowledge of metal.
Michelle entered from the room she shared with Sean. The original Victorian family who inhabited the property at the end of the Nineteenth Century used Sean and Michelle’s room for dining. Now it was just one of five bedrooms in a large flat that had been turned into a hippie commune.
“You can’t leave that lying there,” she stated with an assertiveness that derived from her being the only female in the bunch. “How do you expect anyone to move it when we have to straighten up in here?”
Dennis knelt beside the thing and stroked it and hugged it and snapped its strings and sang to it and hammered it and hummed to its incongruous noises as if it were a finely tuned instrument. Even James found the result hard to sit through. Sean grabbed Michelle and pulled her back into their room; the arabesque design on the white pocket panels met in the middle as the sliding doors were shut tightly together.
In a few moments, despite Dennis’ continued strumming on the Seedasoom, the sounds of Michelle in a passionate state of ecstasy floated into the living room.
Steve entered from the hallway and apprised the situation in silence. When Dennis took a break and Michelle gave a final gasp of delight, Steve observed: “Kind of makes you want to eat a taco, doesn’t it?”
Kendalhang came into existence through a ruse. The property was owned by an Old Russian Lady, Mrs. Panayatov, who occupied the other flat in the building. She was wary of unemployed young people and refused to rent to Dennis when he knocked on her door one afternoon, newspaper in hand, classified ad circled. He told her he was looking for work to satisfy his draft board classification as a conscientious objector. She shooed him away in pidgin English.
Michelle and Sean were up next. They wore their best set of clothes in order to interview as prospective tenants for the woman whom Dennis described as looking “like a peasant potato farmer in a babushka.” She remained suspicious, but was willing to let them the flat when Sean held out four one hundred dollar bills as the first two month’s rent. He was extremely personable, his curly blond hair lending his cherubic face an innocence that was too much for the old woman to deny.
Of course, the money swayed her. It confirmed Sean’s claim to be a recent arrival from Southern California who had a job in the banking industry. Plus, she was only asking $160 a month.
What she did not know was six people had chipped in to fund the proposal and it took almost everything they had in ready money.
When they learned Mrs. Panayatov took the cash, everyone breathed a tremendous sigh of relief. They had been crashing on the floor, on the couch, in makeshift beds at Laurie’s house on Ninth Avenue for a week. Sean and Michelle had a room of their own because Laurie moved into her son’s for the time being.
One night during this hiatus between permanent shelters, Harold lay in his bedroll uncomfortable on the uncarpeted dining room floor as James, who had couch privileges that night, let a roaring thunder of a snore fly. The sound was a deeply, deeply disturbing rumble so loud and rough it shook the windows in their frames. This is what must have awakened Harold although he had no dream memory for the why of it, only that he was suddenly torn from Morpheus’ arms and thrust into the real world. It took a few seconds to learn the source. Apparently, he had come to in between.
And then the explosive roar renewed in exhale. There was a pause, thundering inhale. Pause. And so it went, this double dynamic with varying degrees of light and soft expelled on the exhale and noisily sucked back in past flapping tonsils on the inhale. The sound of honking geese, screeching automobile tires and crashing surf were woven into the fabric of it. Harold lay with hands behind his head, pillow bent and pressed into each ear which did absolutely no good. He could not get back to sleep and tried to dream that he was actually dreaming, yet he was completely awake.
How in the world can the other guys in the room sleep through that, he wondered. What were they wearing, earplugs?