Jerome: part four
For by that hour, Anne had left him.
He had tried to find work. Attracted by an advertisement in the Herald, Jerome read it through a dozen times to be certain his guess was not wrong as to the sort of help they wanted.
Selling these books would not be so different from asking strangers on the street to buy a newspaper. Jerome began to think he might do this sort of work. Knocking at doors, he reasoned, was not labor; he would be free with his hours, as Limolette had been. The standing demanded behind a shop counter would have exhausted his energy…but if he tried only a few houses the first day, a few the next, soon the outdoor air would brace his lungs, and he would grow stronger.
Honoré began to feel optimistic about the project. The winter, he told himself, might be hard to endure; this place, this city (which his imagination could not map to a geographic latitude), might be situated in a bad climate. But once he was earning money, or—Honoré was willing to entertain the idea—if even Anne were to earn some money, they would be able to leave as they had planned, in the springtime.
But on foot, it would have been impossible for him to reach Genesee Street. He had broken a silver dollar, one he’d hidden from Anne. He stooped to loosen the collar of his shoe, and slotted in a handful of nickels. He had hidden the dollar from Anne…he loved her and he suspected her…he would hide these as well.
Jerome listened to his cab depart, and looked with stealth over one shoulder, then the other; for he was about to test the handle of a forbidding door, one with its blind down, and no lettering to comfort him that he had found the right address. The door was unlocked. He saw, in the building’s foyer, ranks of post boxes, their tarnished scrollwork scratched and shining about the keyholes, while in the depths of the shadowed stairwell, three frosted globes of a gas lamp glinted as Jerome swung the door open.
(2017, Stephanie Foster)