Taking the elevator down, hand in hand, “My, God!” walking outside, Marsha’s eyes partially closed against the brightness, stopping on the top step, “what a beautiful day!”
“It’s really pretty here, isn’t it?”
Looking at the mix of older and newer well-maintained houses across the bare-limbed, tree-lined street. “Lovely, just lovely! And the air…” breathing deeply through her nostrils, “smells wonderful!”
“We’re on the tip of a tiny peninsula, remember, and what you’re smelling is salt air.”
The Second Day of Their Lives 2
Seagate, New York
December 19, 1955: 10:55 a.m.
Starting down the stairs, Mitchell ran his hand along the concrete ledge, filling it with snow, which he compressed into a ball and, looking wickedly at Marsha, conveyed the thought that…
“Don’t you dare!” Running towards the Ford, with Mitchell purposely only steps behind, she scooped a double handful of snow off the hood and, turning quickly, flung it in his face.
Not expecting this, snow in his hair, on his eyebrows and running down his face, stopping cold, “Why, you…” pinning her against the fender with the weight of his body, pretending he was about to mash the ball of snow onto her face, instead, his snow-flecked, cold lips found hers, and her soft, warm lips responded.
Parting, looking into his eyes, “Lets not make war.”
“Yeah, baby,” he said seriously, “let’s make love, please!”
“Soon, baby,” she said just as seriously. “I promise, soon.”
“Come in, Marsha, come in!” Holding the door open, Ida stepped aside.
“Aunt Ida, how nice to meet you, finally.”
“Mitchell was right.” Taking hold of Marsha’s hands, “You are lovely!”
Feeling tiny pinpricks of hair on her cheek as the old lady kissed her, “Thank you.”
“It’s going to be so nice having you here, my dear.” Leading then into her overly-heated kitchen, “How do you like Seagate?” Motioning to the chairs around an old oak table, “Sit, please.”
“Thank you, but we got here too late…”
“Or too early.” Mitchell interjected, holding a chair for Marsha.
“…for me to see much of anything. But what I’ve seen so far, I like. It’s beautiful here.”
“Yes, here, but outside the gate things are changing.” Reflecting a moment. “It used to be so lovely here—it still is, inside—but outside? Coney Island and Brighton Beach, I mean.”
He had seen Coney Island and Brighton Beach in daylight, and the signs of decay, that Mitchell vividly remembered from the west side of Chicago—but still, not even remotely understanding the reasons for—were conspicuously visible here.
“So,” going to the refrigerator, “you want breakfast! You like bacon, sausage?” Knowing Mitchell would eat just about anything, Ida posed the question to Marsha. “Or maybe you keep a little kosher?”
“No.” Surprised, though, that Ida didn’t, “I’m not kosher at all, not even a little.”
Seeing the questioning look on Marsha’s face, “Meyer, my husband, alav ha-sholom—may he rest in peace—liked ham, so when we were married, I asked, ‘Meyer, you want to keep kosher?’ And he said, ‘maybe a little,’ so we never did.”
“That’s kind of how it was with my mom and dad, too.”
“The little I remember of Walter, your papa, I thought he wasn’t the kosher type.”
“You want another bagel, more tea, maybe?”
“No, Aunt Ida,” putting her cup down, “this is plenty, thank you.”
“Living so far from your family, you don’t think you’re going to miss them, your mama, papa?”
“No,” glancing at Mitchell, “he’s my family now… It must be very nice here in the summer, living so close to the beach and Coney Island. I love the beach, and it’s going to be perfect for me here. Of course I’ve got to get a job, but even so, I know I’m going to love it here.”
Sopping up the last of his egg yoke with a piece of bagel, “Aunt, Ida, maybe you can help us.”
Looking at him over the rim of her cup, “If I can.”
“We’re going shopping today for groceries, and we want to buy a television, and we’ve got to open a checking account. Can you tell us the best places to go?”
“For a bank, I use Coney Island Federal; it’s on Neptune, just past Ocean Parkway. For groceries, try the A&P on Brighton Beach Avenue, and for a television… probably it would be best to go to Bensonhurst. Try under the el tracks; you should be able to buy anything there. Also,” looking at Marsha, “Bensonhurst would be the best place for you to find work… You worked in Chicago? You didn’t go to college?”
“No, I didn’t want to go to college.” Finishing the last of her bacon, “I wanted to work, and was in training to be a corsetiere…”
“She’s a meat packer!” Mitchell interrupted again, using Marsha’s joke, but both women ignored him.
“…and I figure with my training selling women’s undergarments I shouldn’t have any trouble finding a job.”
“Then Bensonhurst is certainly the right place for you to look, and it’s so easy to get to. All you do is take the bus outside the gate, and it’s a ten-minute ride to the subway. Brighton Beach is the end of the line, so you can only go one way, and it’s two stops to Bensonhurst.”
“Thanks, Aunt Ida. That’s where I’ll look, then.”
“I’ve a great idea!” Looking from Marsha to Ida, “Why don’t you come with us today? If there’s anything you need from the A&P, or anyplace else, we’ll take you. Then you can come along with us when we get the TV, and you can show us Bensonhurst.”
“Maybe Aunt Ida would rather not go out in this weather.” Turning to Ida, “If there’s anything you need, though, we’ll be glad to get it for you.”
“Thank you.” Looking at Mitchell, “I could use a few things, but Marsha is right. Old people don’t like snow. You never know what’s under it and it’s too easy to fall. And at my age you do your best to never fall.”
“You’re sure, then?”
“Yes, but I’ll give you a list, and if you’d be kind enough, I’d appreciate it.”
Driving slowly, he pointed to the sights of interest, but quiet and unresponsive, Marsha merely looked out the window.
“Marcie,” glancing at her, “why so quiet? Anything wrong?”
Not looking at him, “No, nothing’s wrong!”
Sensing a tightening in his stomach, “I’m getting to know you, and I know when something’s eating you. What’s wrong?”
“Mitchell,” turning in his direction, “you are not one person anymore! You are not single! You are married!”
“Yeah,” the tone of her voice angering him, “I know that I am not single! I know that I am married! So?”
“So? You don’t act like you know that!”
“What the hell’s wrong? What in the hell did I do now?”
“How’s about before you make a decision that involves both of us,” she said harshly, “how’s about discussing it with me first!”
“Decision? What decision? Discuss what with you first?”
“Your aunt Ida!”
Thrown by this, silent a second, “Aunt Ida?” Looking at her questioningly, “What about Aunt Ida?”
“As far as I’m concerned, this is our first real day together.”
“Yesterday doesn’t count because we had to do that! Today’s the first day we’re together doing just what we, the two of us, want to do!”
“Uh, we’re not doing exactly what I wanted to do, but, yeah, so?”
“You didn’t ask me if I wanted to have breakfast with Ida!”
“Okay, I didn’t mind that. As a matter of fact I enjoyed it and I’m glad we did and I’m glad we live across the street from her, and I’m sure we’ll get along just fine, but then…”
“So what in the hell’s the fu… uh, problem?”
“You had to ask her to come shopping with us! To buy a TV with us! To even open a bank account with us!”
“But she didn’t did she? She’s not here, is she?”
“No, she isn’t! But that’s not the point!”
“Jesus! So what is the point, then?”
“The point is, before you go making plans for us—for you and me—how’s about remembering that there is an us, and that maybe I’d like to be asked and given a choice!”
“Are you telling me that before I do anything, before I say anything, I’m supposed to get approval from you first?”
“No, not everything, Mitchell, but if it effects me too, then yes! I’d like for you to use your head once in a while and talk to me first so that maybe I can voice my opinion, too!”
“Use my head once in a while? Shit! I didn’t know I was making a life and death decision there! I only accepted breakfast for us! And so long as we were going anyway, I asked an old lady if she wanted to get out of her house for a while! Big deal!” He glared at her, but Marsha had turned back to the window.