E.S. called me the other day, breathless with excitement after having spent an evening online researching the neighborhood we’ll be moving into. “Guess what used to be where our house is now!” he burst out. “It’s the best thing that could possibly have been there.”
“An ancient Indian burial ground,” I said immediately.
There was silence on the other end of the line. “No,” he said. “I guess it’s the second-best thing that could possibly have been there.”
“A lunatic asylum,” I answered.
A longer silence. “The third-best thing,” he said, through obviously gritted teeth. I am actually terrible at guessing games, and I couldn’t come up with anything else. When I admitted this, his voice filled with an almost palpable glee–no mean feat given that we were communicating telephonically–and he said, “the land where our house is used to be occupied by the Kings County Penitentiary.”
“Oh, my God,” I said, and melted. I took a moment to collect myself. “Now the next important question we need to answer is: who was the most famous resident of the penitentiary?”
He was clearly offended. “What do you take me for? Of course I already looked it up. Her name was Polly Frisch, and she was sent to the penitentiary after she poisoned her husband, his two children, and her own child by putting arsenic on their bread and butter.”
“I love you,” I said.
“She was eventually pardoned by the governor and released. Her fame was almost immediately eclipsed by that of another murderess named Lizzie Borden.”
Since that day, my mind has been filled with fantasies of opening a café on the first floor (previously occupied by the Gospel Light Church, Inc.) called Polly’s, or perhaps Polly’s Pastries. It will be just like the café that Dallas Roberts and Colin Farrell opened in A Home at the End of the World, except that E.S. and I will have sex with each other and we will sell bread and butter both with and without arsenic.