YESTERDAY THE POLICE searched the house across the street. I saw them pull up in their tidy neat blue-and-white cruiser and get out in their neon yellow vests. They looked so perfect and symmetrical, so out of place in this rougher-edged part of the town, where the houses are half-derelict, crooked, and leaning, the facades muddied with dirt and smog. An old man in a black coat with a cane pointed out the house to them, looking like a character from a Paul Revere engraving. Inside, they were looking for something, searching, searching. I could see the flashlights in the lower-floor windows, behind the curtains, poking and probing around. They left with no arrest as far as I could see. Yet later that night, a dreamy snow storm blew in, and the two criminals returned in the shadows. One of them, an older sort, walked me down the street and kept chatting with me and asking me what I had seen of the police. To excuse myself, I went into a friend’s house nearby. You went down a staircase, then through an underground corridor, and came up into the kitchen. There was a party in there, Vesta was with her boyfriend, and I said I had come to collect a few things. “Sure, sure!” she said. “Take your time! But remember to close the door. Don’t let in the cold!” I collected the few things I had left behind, but when I went to leave, I couldn’t find my shoe. There were piles of shoes everywhere but none of them fit me. Vesta came down a few times to help me look, but to no avail. We went back into the kitchen, but it was now full of snow, and looking out the window, I saw a nude woman dive into a hot tub, with steam rising. There was an outdoor party, and an indoor one too, as all the floor was covered with wet snow, and there was a hot tub in the corner of the kitchen now too, a great wooden tunnivann, or barrel tub, which are popular here. I still couldn’t find my shoe and decided I could make it home in my socks. Vesta walked me to the door but before I left, she took me by the hand and whispered, “Come back later and I’ll help you find your shoe.” It was such a warm feeling, delivered with warm hand pressed into warm hand, and my soul was soothed warm with the understanding of such a sugarplum promise.
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