It was left in the apartment early on, I think in the 70's. Otis brought it up to fix something or maybe I borrowed it. But it remained after he left.
A hulking presence - like a six year old boy who didn't understand why he was 6'8" when all the other kids in kindergarten were kids size - this ladder moved from corner to corner in the odd shaped hall, never quite blending into the wall, but still becoming part of the scenary.
However, its height was necessary in an old apartment of ceilings beyond reach and so it hulked about. At some point its rungs held the excessive number of shopping bags I felt were too pretty to throw away, but too pretty to use.
It was used maybe a couple of times a year when a bulb had to be replaced or the even rarer event of changing a light fixture. It didn't matter what you were using it for. The minute you stepped on it it wobbled and swayed, even if you were on the lowest rung. Only Joni had the presence of balance to meander about on the very top.
As space within and without opened and an old home cleared for new welcomes, this ladder, covered with history from before I moved in 35 years ago, was quietly taken to a storage closet, my name now taped to it. No one, but me, would remember it had once been Otis's.
MY PRIVATE CONEY presents IT WAS HER NEW YORK, the short stories that accompany the work-in-progress video and photo collection of the same name (myprivateconey.com - media link - IT WAS HER NEW YORK). The stories and the media explore the tender rubble that holds both my mother, Florence's and New York's soul as one disappears into old age and the other into gentrification. All are real observations and/or experiences with very little tall-tale telling.
Except when it makes the story better.
Please visit myprivateconey.com for additional information and sample works.