The Very Charitable Mrs. Wertheimer – 21 through 25

Rx: To be read after 1 through 5, 6 through 10, 11 through 15, and 16 through 20.
Take tomorrow, for instance. When she tells Davis that she’d considered calling him at his mother’s house, to tell him to come back into the city to drive her to her appointment, but then decided she should just let him have his day off, well, he’ll not only be grateful that she refrained but will thank her — more than once! — for not disturbing him.
And what about today? The little girl who helped her with her Metrocard almost refused to accept the quarter Mrs. Wertheimer handed her. So when Mrs. Wertheimer insisted, the little girl’s thanks were even more generous.
What, too, of Alejandro Esteban? What of her Latin lover, and the individual thanks he heaped upon her shoulders? Shoulders upon which he placed his strong (yet gentle!) hands (oh, if she closes her eyes she can still see the signet ring!) every time Mrs. Wertheimer knelt before him to bestow upon him the same gift that, when presented to her husband as a way of apologizing for her affair, was met with snarls of “I don’t need your charity!”
What of her long-ago lover? What of the Latin Lothario and his hands — so olive-bronze against her shoulders, so cream-peach?
Mrs. Wertheimer wishes she had a book into which she could bury her nose, so she could feign insouciance and a sense of normalcy in this situation in which she feels anything but carefree. She ducks her head, embarassed to admit even to herself, silently, inside her carefully coifed head, that she actually envies the people for whom riding the subway is commonplace.
These feelings, completely out of character for Mrs. Wertheimer, rush toward her as insistently as the subway that now approaches the platform. She knows the subway will stop (right?), but what of these feelings? Will they, too?
Mrs. Wertheimer is not prepared for the crush of human flesh pressing against her from all sides. An amorphous mass rushes from the train onto the platform, at the same time another swollen mass presses from the platform onto the train.
She cannot budge.
Mrs. Wertheimer starts to recall a physics principle from her undergraduate studies.
If she stands still, will each opposing flesh-wall render her incapable of advancing? Will she remain in one place, fixed to the platform? What if she lifts one foot from the ground, and then the other? Will the crowd lift her? Carry her forward?
Mrs. Wertheimer wrinkles her nose. (Only one nose job, thank you. She’s not obsessed, like Kiki Owen!) Is it just her imagination or is the air down here … oily? Gray?
Someone behind her reeks like a rancid platter of day-old antipasto. A jelly-bellied girl to her left, with skin like a topographical map of Peru, wearing yellow-gold earrings bigger than her ears, cracks bubblegum that smells like a crack chemist’s idea of strawberry. Someone sounds like he’s going to spit.
And does.
Mrs. Wertheimer decides her appointment can wait. She tries to turn around to go back to street level.

0 thoughts on “The Very Charitable Mrs. Wertheimer – 21 through 25

  1. I say we take a poll. Who thinks that plucky Mrs. Wertheimer will make it to her destination and who thinks she’ll end up in Philadelphia (knocking on Mrs. Z’s door)?

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