Several Kinds of Silence

Published by: Harper & Row, 1988


Copyright © Marilyn Singer 1988

Several Kinds of Silence

(excerpt from Chapter 6)

“I’d rate that one a five.  It’s too wide and too flat,” Susan said.  “What do you give it?”

Franny glanced at the blue-jeaned butt moving away from her past a colorful display of potted chrysanthemums.  “A five,” she agreed.  “The one with him’s an eight.”

“I’d say a seven.  Nice shape, but too high up.”

Another boy passed from the opposite direction.  The seat of his jeans was baggy and wrinkled.

“A three,” Susan and Franny said simultaneously, and laughed.

A group of kids walked by, then a fat middle-aged man.

“Jeez, not much around here today,” Susan complained lightly.  “We might as well find some other form of amusement.  Want to try on dresses at Salyer’s?”

“Not really.  I can’t afford anything there.”

“Neither can I, but it’s fun to look at the stuff anyway.”

“Not for me.”  Franny frowned.  “Not these days.”

“Did your father talk to his boss?” Susan asked quietly.

“He talked to the foreman.  The foreman told him not to worry–he’s too valuable to be laid off.”

“That must’ve made him feel better, and you, too.”

“Not really, because the foreman also told John Rodriguez a few weeks ago that he was too valuable to be laid off.”

Susan nodded sympathetically.  She and Franny fell silent a moment; then she snapped her fingers.  “I know what we can do.  Let’s go over to Grosvenor. There’s a great new thrift shop there that even we can afford.”

You went all the way to Grosvenor? Franny own voice echoed in her brain.  To Susan she said, “Lainie got a hat there the other day.”

Susan nodded again.  “They’ve got great hats, and lots of other stuff.”

Franny wasn’t fond of thrift shops.  She didn’t like to wear other people’s clothing, especially when each piece seemed to have some story behind it, one she’d never know.  But she didn’t want to nix another idea of Susan’s, so she agreed to go.

The two girls rose from the low brick wall they were sitting on.  It encircled a display of stuffed turkeys donated by a local taxidermist, standing amid some shrubs.

“Poor things,” Susan said, looking at the turkeys.  “They’re almost enough to turn me into a vegetarian.  Almost, but not quite.  Then again, if Burger Bonanza’s burgers don’t do that, nothing will.”

Franny chuckled as she and Susan headed for the exit.

Grosvenor was a short street consisting of a few houses and a bunch of small stores that were constantly changing.  Franny wasn’t sure why shops opened and closed there with such frequency.  She tried not to get attached to any place there because it couldn’t be counted on to be around two months later. The store that had been there the longest was an ice-cream parlor.  It held the record of ten months.  On its first anniversary the whole street should have a party, Franny thought.

“Here it is,” Susan said.  “Cheap Frills.”

They went inside the store and poked around, Susan enthusiastically, Franny half-heartedly.  Susan found a beaded top from the 1950s.  “Just perfect for the Christmas dance,” she said, as the cashier rang up the sale.

She was still bubbling about it when they left the store.  “These sequins are fantastic.  Must have been a lot of work for someone to sew them on.”

“Yes,” Franny said, trying to share her friends delight.

Suddenly a tall young man stepped out a doorway some twenty feet ahead of them.

They didn’t see his face–he’d turned too quickly.  But they caught a good back view of the rest of him, clad in black pants and a black jacket with a blood-red dragon embroidered on it.

“Wow!” said Franny.

“Wow!” echoed Susan.

“A perfect ten!”

“What are we standing around here fore? Let’s follow him.”

Before Franny could nix the idea, Susan was off, with Franny at her heels.