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Sick of politics? Want a break?

Flip off the information and skim the first chapter of Swan Music, a comic novel about a real property scam on the Area Coast of Florida. Can the three musketeers—Selma Waxler and her previous buddies Kitty and Rose—foil the snake that’s slithered into their retirement paradise?

Swan Music

By Stewart Kellerman

Chapter 1


I used to be all the time fussy about my hair, however I had to tighten the purse strings when things fell apart. To save lots of a couple of pennies, I’d take my own colours to Annette’s House of Aloha: Miss Clairol, an oz of Topaz and an oz of Moon Haze. I nonetheless had lovely hair, as good as once I was a schoolgirl. Perhaps a little nicer, if I say so myself. I waved naturally, which I didn’t as a woman. Consider it or not, I hadn’t permed since I was in my twenties and unattached.

Annette used to set my colors with two ounces of L’Oreal, but I made her change to Clairoxide after the Disaster. It was sixty-five cents less and my pricey pal Kitty saw one thing in Florida At present about how this massive shot at L’Oreal had been a Nazi in the course of the struggle.

If I wanted a good remedy, Annette would shampoo me with Wella, first the conditioner, then the conditioning shampoo. My boys used the stuff, too—Dewey, my oldest, and Zoot, number two—but only the shampoo, the one with cholesterol.

Annette knew a terrific trick. She’d rub in a tiny quantity of conditioner as she applied my colour. This was so the ideas shouldn’t dry out. She discovered that in Paw­tucket, the place she had a unisex earlier than shifting to the Area Coast.

In fact, everyone in Florida got here from somewhere. Sid and I used to reside on Kimball Terrace, the dead-end block subsequent to Yonkers Raceway. We had a detached brick with a flagstone patio in again and a completed basement. It took Sid half a summer time vacation, however he put up the paneling downstairs all by himself, a very good wormy cherry.

I discovered Annette quickly after shifting to Satellite Seashore, the place we purchased when Sid retired from educating radio and television at Gompers, his vocational high school within the Bronx. This was a few weeks into 1981, not too lengthy after the Reagans received to Washington.

I was nonetheless a mere bobby-soxer of sixty-five, barely sufficiently old to get my senior low cost at Mercury Marquee (Sid used to name it the Sin-a-Plex). He was sixty-six, almost 4 years youthful than Reagan on the Inauguration. Day in and day trip, Sid was carrying on about that cowboy within the White House. Little did he understand, however Reagan wasn’t the rustler we had to worry about.

To be truthful, it was Kitty who found the Home of Aloha, Annette’s magnificence parlor in Spaceport Plaza. Annette was between Dependable Realty—don’t get me began on that—and Golden Chopsticks, Sid’s favorite Chinese restaurant. He was very choosy when it came to Chinese, wouldn’t contact anything however probably the most boring dishes from the chow mein faculty.

Spaceport Plaza, by the best way, wasn’t precisely a mall, but one of these older-style buying centers on A1A where you needed to step outdoors to go from store to retailer. All the outlets have been stucco, pink stucco with little aquamarine awnings in entrance—Spanish type.

Kitty had all the time been the pioneer. She found Pelican Pond, our retirement village in Satellite Seashore. She bought first, then I did, and Rose brought up the rear. Rose was perpetually final, the sweetest individual on the earth, however a faint heart who was all the time ready for Kitty and me to point out her the best way.

We’d been collectively by way of thick and skinny. The Three Musketeers—that’s what everybody used to name us once we have been growing up on Livonia Avenue in Brooklyn. We wouldn’t let anybody separate us. We had a lot of aggravation from our husbands, let me inform you, but we insisted on finding three houses close to at least one another in Yonkers. Rose lived down the street from me on Kimball Terrace and Kitty was one block over on Halstead.

Kitty was the courageous one. I keep in mind once we have been in tenth grade at Thomas Jefferson and she or he took Rose and me into the town for Chinese language on the Singapore. This was the primary time any of us had tried Chinese food and Rose was appearing like Daniel in the lion’s den.

“What the hell are you afraid of?” Kitty hollered for the whole room to listen to. “Christ Almighty, it won’t jump up and bite you. You’re supposed to be doing the goddamn biting.”

I ought to have warned you about Kitty’s mouth. All ears have been burning at the tables around us. Even the Chinese language waiters have been getting an earful. Nicely, Rose might have been a crybaby, but I wasn’t precisely Selma the Lion-Hearted once I noticed the menu.

I couldn’t tell my egg foo from my mu shu in those days, let alone the extra exotic stuff—octopus suckers, hen toes, eye of newt, for all I know. I stored asking our waiter if the dishes had onions. I didn’t like cooked onions. I might eat raw onions chopped up with tuna and different things, however not cooked in my food.

Onions never agreed with Sid, both, raw or other­sensible. He was of the opinion—and not just an opinion in his case—that onions offer you fuel. Sid all the time had an opinion, too many of them for my part. We wouldn’t have been in such a state if he’d listened to me.

I needed to be on the pond, however Sid knew better. Kitty and Leo had already bought a pretty Hacienda, one of the higher-quality waterside villas. Rose and Sol have been still hemming and hawing, however it seemed as in the event that they’d make the leap and get a Hacienda, too.

Sid had other concepts. The best way he figured it, we’d be throwing good money away to be on a pond, particularly a man-made one, once we didn’t even have a canoe. He needed us to get a Chalet, the cheaper unit with a breeze­method as an alternative of a garage. The Chalets have been over by Tropi­cana Trail and the visitors congestion. As an added attraction, you had a pretty view by way of your image window of Luna Lanes, the bowladrome across the road.

“Everyone wants to be on the pond,” Sid argued as we examined the prospectus in Yonkers. “You have to pay top dollar there. Why should we go into debt to be on the water?”

“But that’s where I want to be, on the pond next to Kitty and Rose.”

“We shouldn’t tie ourselves down with a mortgage at our age, Bubbie. If we buy away from the water, we’ll have our home free and clear. And we can put the left­over into a nest egg.”

“I don’t want an ugly bowling alley in my face. I don’t even like bowling. And what are we going to do with a nest egg? Sit on it until we hatch chickens?”

“I’m sorry, but I’m not a high roller like some other husbands I could mention. I had to slave in the school system all my life.”

“You’ll be getting a very nice bundle from your vari­able annuity when you retire, $22,215 in cold cash, as you never cease to remind me. Why can’t we use this manna from heaven to buy a Hacienda? We’d need to borrow only ten thousand more.”

“It doesn’t make sense to pay double-digit interest rates to be on a phoney-baloney pond. Who needs water?”

Take heed to him, Sid Waxler, the Answer Man. Let him converse for himself. You must have seen me as a woman. I used to slice via the water without a splash, identical to the women in Billy Rose’s Aquacade. Even in Florida, I might have swum circles across the tadpoles sunning them­selves topless by the pool of the Econo Lodge on A1A, the place with the turquoise tiles.

As soon as we obtained to Pelican Pond, I joined Aquacise on the Olympic pool. Perhaps I shouldn’t be the one to say this, however I was a sensation. Loretta Liebowitz, our woman lifeguard, stated I had extra pure talent and enthusiasm than the remaining of the category combined, though which may have been a slight exaggeration.

Sid used to take me to Orchard Seashore in the summer, back once we had the one-bedroom on Sedgwick Ave­nue in the Bronx, our first residence collectively. We used to suntan in section twelve, the place the musicians congre­gated. Sid would lie again on a seashore towel, his eyes closed, as I serenaded the gang with my mandolin, an previous Gibson.

Sid wasn’t much of a swimmer—more of a splasher, truly. I’ve a image from the previous days. He’s at the seashore, holding Dewey on his shoulder. Dewey in dia­pers, such a tiny factor. Sid’s hair is stuck to his head like a wet washcloth. He’s a stringbean, standing there in his trunks. They have been navy, the trunks, but you’ll be able to’t inform from the picture as a result of it’s a black-and-white.

Sid’s hair was still as black as ever once we received to Florida, but he never appreciated his luck. I worked so onerous to get my shade right and he didn’t should carry a pinkie. It wasn’t truthful. He was nonetheless a stringbean, too. I’d like someone to elucidate that. I needed to wrestle day by day of my life to maintain my girlish figure. Sid, then again, might stuff whatever garbage he needed into that huge lure. Not an oz stuck to his bones. This needed to be the metabolism or one thing, perhaps hormones. At night time, I’d take a look at his tiny little size-thirty belt draped over the armchair in our bed room and really feel like stran­gling him with it.

As regular, Sid had his method concerning the Chalet. We received it for $74,895 plus closing costs, nearly what we cleared from promoting the home in Yonkers. And he insisted we put your complete $22,215 from the varsity system into a one-year CD at Solar Bank, the department on South Babcock in Melbourne. It had the most effective fee around, fifteen per­cent compounded, and you got a pocket calculator for opening the account.

Sid moved the remaining of our money, a few thousand from Yonkers Savings, into a joint checking account at South­land, the financial institution with the drive-in window across the cor­ner on A1A. It was throughout from the Econo Lodge and next to Oinkers, the barbecue place on the ocean. You might get a platter of ribs for 3 ninety-five, a platter large enough to carry a ten-pound turkey.

For some purpose, it made Sid really feel good to have that nest egg in the bank. You’d have thought it was a Fabergé from listening to him. But what have been we saving for? Until I was mistaken, burial shrouds have been still being made without pockets.

My God, the aggravation we went via over that cash. I get sick fascinated with it. I curse the weasel liable for what occurred. His bones must be damaged and trampled into the earth. Excuse me, however a bitter coronary heart makes you say such issues.

Properly, I gave in on the Chalet, however I insisted on a kitchen with room for our Inca gold dinette set from Yonkers. That’s why we bought a Chalet Luxe, the two-bedroom end unit with a tub and a half and an eat-in kitchen. It was outfitted with new Scorching Level appliances, wall-to-wall carpeting, and a tiled Neptune inexperienced tub in the grasp tub that you simply stepped down into.

Sid favored the thought of the spare bedroom that came with an finish unit. I furnished it with twin beds, in case the boys determined to do Sid and me a huge favor and pay us a visit. Not that Dewey, the snob, or Zoot, the hipster, would stay with us—not to mention Fleur, Dewey’s socialite wife.

All we acquired from the youngsters was grumble, grumble, groan. Principally they complained that the one factor we did was complain about them, which I couldn’t work out, since there was no strategy to get a phrase in edgewise with all their complaining. I have a query, Dr. Broth­ers. If we have been such rotten mother and father, how did they grow to be so good?

Nicely, I’m not the only individual to tumble into the gen­eration gap and crack my skull. Kitty emerged black and blue from raising Myra, her little sweetheart. And Rose had a concussion or two, because of Becky and Zach, the sweetness and lightweight of her life.

I keep in mind once I labored for Ansonia Footwear earlier than the warfare. It was just off Herald Sq., which was why you would all the time find me in Macy’s at lunch time. I was the steno in the office, however I did a lot of other things—the gross sales flooring, the money register, the account ebook.

I despatched the checks to Mrs. Wolfowitz, the boss’s spouse, when she went to Grossinger’s over the summer time. I even crammed in when the mannequin was sick. I wasn’t a model measurement—she was a 4 and I was 4 and a half—however I’d squeeze my foot into it.

The purpose is, we obtained probably the most lovely stuff at value from Binghamton and the opposite shoe places upstate. I rated lovely footwear and made positive my pals had them, too. No marvel I had such good pals. You must be a good friend to have one.

Properly, perhaps I ought to have put up extra of a stink concerning the pond, as if that may have changed Dr. No’s mind. He might be very cussed, ignoring me till I wilted like a heat salad. He was just as obstinate concerning the Disaster, but I don’t need to speak about that.

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