Samantha Zeitlin

Hell is an apartment
in Rittenhouse Square. the view of the
park is worth the rent
which pays the salaries of the 
doorman and elevator operator.
But the family who owns it
and invited me to visit
was away	on an island in the 
Pacific.  Meanwhile, the
air conditioning had been off. the moth balls were
melting in the 
closets where the skeletons of 
expensive clothes hid.
There were flakes of ceiling paint
on the bed, in the guest room
like gigantic crawling dandruff
and the plastic welcome mat was
 transparent over the mud stains which tracked
the progress from the white carpet
by the door to the orange fluff
in the bedroom. A large
potted plant occupied the bathtub
serenely guarding its territory.
the bed itself sloped on the sides like the roof of a 
barn. I wondered weakly if the sheets
had been changed since the last visitor.
In the shower the mildew multiplied its surface area
at 1.5 square inches per second
creeping across the curtain and into
the tub where the toilet brush
lay propped up under the faucet. dirty bathing suits
and towels clung to the room like 
ivy.  As I backed out of this room I 
passed through the deceptively clean
living room	where no doubt very little life
ever took place. 
on the way out I scribbled a polite thank-you and
good-bye note and left it on the 
miniature ping-pong table in the foyer. I included a 
story about my friend which was 
entirely concocted and 
returned the spare key at the desk.

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