There was nothing special about the way Janet Boxstein ate a bowl of bran cereal with skim milk every morning, or that every morning she said hello to Mr. Jenkins in 6G on her way out to get the paper. There was nothing notable about the route she took to work, the same route every day, past Swanson’s Hosiery House and through the dark alley between the Swedish bakery and the dog pound, the same route she had been taking for the past 789 days (except during the pickling plant flood of 2005, when she was forced to hitch a ride with a cow mover).
There was also nothing notable about Janet’s vocation. She worked in the cellar of a corking factory, shredding documents and sweeping mice shit into the dank corners and behind towering stacks of bankers boxes. She wore non-descript khaki slacks and an aged white blouse. Nothing stood out about the way she wore her black curls and her handwriting was ordinary, like Times New Roman.
No one noticed her as she crouched on the floor every afternoon, nibbling on her standard fare of tuna on rye and cocktail weiners in a cabbaged marinade; and no one noticed her as she blended into the stampede of rush hour every day when the five o’clock alarm sent peals of dismissal through the factory.
There was nothing notable about the way she moved her head to the homogenized brand of Celine Dion-stylized music that filtered through her head phones, and nothing to note about the generic cans of corn and coffee that filled her wobbly-wheeled cart at the small corner mart.
None of the neighbors noticed the thumping when Janet returned to her apartment every night and kicked aside stray limbs protruding from the pile of corpses in her sitting room, or the hollow bang when she pounded on her TV for better reception. None of the neighbors noticed the smell of burnt toast that wafted underneath her door every time she made a midnight snack, or the stench of corroded brain matter that festered in large jugs stopped with cork which she pocketed from work.
But one notable thing about Janet was that she built a ladder to the top of the Eiffel Tower out of spinal columns.
And that she loved to flamenco.
Erin. I am completely serious. I’ve been in contact again with Laurie Notaro (she’s hilarious and you would LOVE her books) and if you would ever like me to send some of your material on to her, I would love to do that. You are way too talented to let this go unnoticed. It’s incredible!