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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Frog and Toad are Friends 2

Babe reaches the base of Toad’s boat. The bow is rounded as a ship’s should be, sliced neatly just past the mast, and attached to a one-story house. Or rather, a series of one-room homesteaders that create an a courtyard and serve as house. You can enter the bedroom, the kitchen, or the sunny little outbuilding they spend most of their time in. A jumble of low tables, velvet couches with corduroy patches, Eames knockoffs, embroidered footstools, and instruments of all kinds. Guitars and mandolins tidy in their stands, synthesizers stacked less carefully against the back wall, dissembled drum kits and hand drums sitting wherever their last player left them. There are horns and strange-stringed things. There are drum sticks, guitar picks, strings, resin. There’s a flute that one of Babe’s children filled with sand. Toad shrugged and put it on the shelf with the smudge sticks and the first-aid kit. Babe walks into the courtyard, which abuts the mountain on the third side. You can see Frog’s encampment from there, if you know what to look for. The sun has risen by now, so while Babe knows the light shines from his empty porch, she can no longer make out its beam. She squints up, and then pivots to squint up at the ship’s deck. She can’t see Toad, but the little buildings are silent on all sides. He must be up there. The ship attaches to the building that serves as bedroom. Babe enters without knocking, kicks a pair of jeans against the mattress with its tangle of elegant blankets, high-thread-count sheets, fluffy pillows. There’s an ashtray on a pillow and a pile of notebooks one one pillow like a lover’s head. Babe sighs. The skylight is open. A narrow, brightly painted hand-built staircase leads to the roof. No handrail, Babe takes the steps carefully, still holding the jar of coffee. She reaches her free hand out ahead of her and slips it over the lip of the skylight to boost herself. On the roof, she can see the lower decks of the ship, open to the elements, hung with sheer curtains, outfitted like a clubhouse for the most part, though there is a formal dining room, and a ballroom where bands play. Last Halloween someone came by with dozens of pairs of roller-skates and they dropped the disco ball and sang what her children call your oldster hits. The decks are darkened. Babe ascends a second staircase that leads her above deck. “Toad,” she calls as she climbs. “Toad, I brought coffee.” 

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