Right here is where Mrs. Gundy had her candy shop. Christ, candy
shop—what a place, what a concept! Was there a cobbler
next door, a cooper? Ayyy, hard to fathom…
What I remember is scant, and yet to you, who know nothing of her, it
will seem a plenitude. How her braids pitched like tassels and eased
from brown into white. How her black lab, Triceratops, could be heard
patrolling the back room, occasionally trapping himself with the mops.
How her laugh was that of a diver coming upon a wrecked ship called
something like "Merriment"—conserving oxygen. These weren't her
The candy was in rows, and she'd equipped the bins with scoops and
labeled each with a little portrait of hands with a red slash running
through the middle. She didn't want your grabby grabs in
'em. Nor your grubby paws,
and definitely not your filthy mitts.
As I grew and could reach higher I came to realize that each pair
she’d drawn or pasteled or painted was unique: the hands over
the Swedish fish were knotty and callused, and the hands on the
loganberry sours were a church organist's, and the hands on
the peanut caramel zombie clusters were kind of zombieish. Whence this
obsession? There were whispers: Naples…her son… a
stranger with a face like an iron....
It's been decades, but these things echo. Like even now, I
won’t tell you what kind of candy I'm chomping on,
but I'll confess that I'm staring into my hands,
wondering, still, what to do with them.
- - -
Read TH's story, "Urban Planning: Case Study #7."
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