“And here’s the washing machine.”
“Wow,” said Laura.
“Yeah,” Ann said. She grinned and fidgeted with the beads on her caftan. “We feel a little guilty about it. Cause, you know, the water consumption—”
“Sure, electricity,” said Laura.
“Yeah,” said Ann. “But still, you know?” She ran her fingertips over the mottled white finish. “When’s the last time you saw a washing machine in New York?”
“At the laundromat,” said Laura.
“No,” said Ann. “No, I mean like, in an apartment—”
“Oh,” said Laura. “Yeah, I can’t remember.”
For the rest of the housewarming party, they all tried, but no one could stop talking about the new washing machine. They said everything that could possibly be said. Harriet said that they’d have to find a way to hang their clothes to dry, since there wasn’t a dryer, but Yuri said that everyone should be doing that anyway because honestly it’s just better for the environment. Uma said they should get little baskets for detergent and softener and things, and proceeded to talk for a full fifteen minutes about some little woven fabric containers she saw at the farmers market last weekend. Laura kept asking questions about hoses and pipes and plumbing. “I almost want to take off my clothes and wash them right now,” she said. Everyone laughed into their wine glasses.
“How are you affording this place?” asked Yuri.
“It’s actually not that expensive,” said Clara.
“Wait, how?” said Lizzie. “I don’t believe that.”
Clara hesitated. “There’s kind of a, um…extenuating circumstance?”
“No, ha, no,” said Ann. “Now isn’t the best time to talk about this.”
“They’re our friends, Ann. It’s not that big a deal to tell them.”
The two women stared at each other for a moment.
“Fine, if you really want to,” said Ann.
Clara smiled and turned to the room. “It’s really not a big deal,” [End Page 35] she said. “But, the real estate agent told us – oh, I don’t know if it’s even worth mentioning; it’s not that important.”
“Oh come on,” said Yuri.
“What is it?” said Laura.
“There’s a lizard,” said Ann.
The lizard weighs three hundred and twelve pounds. The lizard is covered in scales the color of a cloudy November afternoon in New Hampshire. The lizard has six eyes, all of which serve a distinct anatomical purpose. At the end of its tail is a human hand, which twitches and grasps and is mostly decorative, but which seems to be the thing that scares potential tenants the most. The lizard’s name is Algoroth, but it has never told anyone this, mostly because no one has ever asked.
The lizard has lived in Apartment 2A of 89 Montgomery since a séance gone bad on July 12th, 1916. Management has attempted several methods to remove the lizard, including but not limited to forceful eviction, exorcism, assassination, legal proceedings, and asking nicely. Due to the presence of the lizard, Apartment 2A sat vacant for many years, until an enterprising young landlord decided to take advantage of rising property values and refurbish the unit.
“It’ll be just like having a dog,” Clara said to Ann before they signed the lease. The realtor informed them about the lizard in advance, with the same chipper, fake-solemn tone she used to tell them about the leaky faucet and the outdated light fixtures.
“Is it an actual lizard?” Ann asked the realtor. “Like an iguana or something?”
“Not precisely,” chirped the realtor. “Maybe more a…oh, I don’t know! It’s not normal, if that’s what you’re asking. It doesn’t leave. Maybe it’s a ghost.”
“Is it, like, a demon?” Ann asked.
“Oh, wow, no, that’s…no, that’s so severe!” said the realtor, laughing. “I guess, if you wanted to use that word you could, but yikes.”
“Has it ever hurt anybody?” Clara asked the realtor.
“Not severely,” the realtor said. “No, I mean, it… burned someone, I think, once, like, 50 years ago? But that’s such a long time, [End Page 36...