DIVIDE BY TWO: Francisco Arcellana
They have set down a line of adobe blocks, three blocks wide and two blocks deep, across the lawn between their cottage and ours, Belle said.
“Yes, I know,” I said. I walked into the window and stood there, looking over at their cottage. The piano music from the cottage came strong and clear.“I was here this morning when he brought those blocks home.”I peeled my shirt; it was soggy with sweat.“He carried the blocks in the baggage compartment of their car. It took him all three trips. He had three boys with him to help.”I shook my shirt in the cooling air and walked in my room.“And I know where he got those blocks, too. There is a construction going on right now at engineering school. They have a pile of adobe blocks there as high as the Cheops. You can’t miss it. You see it from the bus line every time.” In my room, the strains of piano music didn’t reach sustainedly.
Belle had followed me into my room.“They have marked off boundaries,” she said.“They have defined limits.”
I folded my shirt about the back of the armchair.“So they have,” I said.“So they have.”My undershirt was wet, too.I yanked it off.
“It is all as if they have put up a fence,” Belle said.
“Fences make good neighbors,” I said. I whipped the apple-green towel off the T- bar and rubbed myself briskly.
“It might as well be the great wall of China,” Belle said.
“Well, no, not really,” I said. “It is not as bad as that.”I returned the towel to the crossbar. I looked around for a dry undershirt but did not find any. I went to the bedroom where my clothes-closet was. Belle followed me. There was no light in the closet. The bulb hadn’t been changed since it went bad shortly after we moved into the cottage. I fumbled in the dark feeling with my fingers. In the darkness in the closet the strains of the piano came steadily, strong and clear.
“She is no Turk but she keeps playing the Turkish March,” Belle said.
I knew where my...