Agnes Among the Gargoyles

Agnes Among the Gargoyles by Patrick Flynn Page A

Book: Agnes Among the Gargoyles by Patrick Flynn Read Free Book Online
Authors: Patrick Flynn
district of warehouses and manufacturers. A noodle maker receives a shipment of flour. Undocumented workers chatter and smoke at a second-floor window; behind them, a mammoth loom revolves. Mrs. Stanhope and Agnes come to an unmarked steel door. Mrs. Stanhope wears the key on a lanyard around her neck. They get on a freight elevator, which Mrs. Stanhope operates with the panache of a Teamster (Is there anything she cannot do?) and emerge moments later in a super-luxurious gymnasium.
    Â Â Â "It's very important to Madelaine that her daughter accept her," Mrs. Stanhope confides.
    Â Â Â Agnes nods, but really Mrs. Stanhope might as well have given her the current rate for hog belly futures: the music is so loud Agnes can feel it in her chest. A score of women march grimly up stair machines, never reaching the top, as though trapped in a circle of Hell for those who always took elevators.
    Â Â Â Madelaine bench presses in a relatively quiet corner. She is attended by a man in a blue Spandex workout suit named Rolf. Rolf's main function seems to consist of keying the weight plates when Madelaine wants to increase the load.
    Â Â Â "Ten more," Madelaine instructs him.
    Â Â Â He moves the key. Madelaine puffs out her cheeks as though performing childbearing exercises. She grunts like a Soviet weight lifter. Madelaine is a weakling. Thirty pounds is making her sweat.
    Â Â Â "You have to push yourself," says Rolf.
    Â Â Â "I am pushing myself."
    Â Â Â "I don't see it," he says. "You know my friend Stanley? He trains Cher. She can press a hundred-and-seventy-five pounds! He used to torture her. She loved it. She knew that's how you get results. Same thing with Cindy Crawford. These people put themselves in their trainers' hands. They trust their trainers. Don't you trust me? I'll make you work, that's for sure. You're lazy."
    Â Â Â Madelaine sits up. She holds out her hands for a towel. Rolf gives her one, but he resents it.
    Â Â Â "You don't deserve a towel," he says. "Your sweat you could wipe up with a little pocket hanky."
    Â Â Â "Thanks for coming, Agnes," says Madelaine. "Oh, Rolf, go with Mrs. Stanhope. She needs you for something."
    Â Â Â "Come downstairs with me," says Mrs. Stanhope. "I need you to jump start the Fiat."
    Â Â Â Rolf looks at her with disdain. "I don't do that."
    Â Â Â "Don't be difficult, Rolf," says Madelaine. "We have you for another hour."
    Â Â Â "I'd like to be your trainer," Rolf tells Mrs. Stanhope as they leave. "I'd make you work, that's for sure."
    Â Â Â Agnes follows Madelaine to the treadmills. Madelaine drapes a towel around her neck. She sets a treadmill to the slowest possible speed and moseys in place.
    Â Â Â "I trust Mrs. Stanhope told you about Sarah."
    Â Â Â "Yes," says Agnes.
    Â Â Â "I never thought prep school would end this way for her. I'm devastated."
    Â Â Â "What happened?"
    Â Â Â "She wouldn't tell me in any detail," says Madelaine. "The way she characterized it was 'politics as usual.' All I know is that she uncovered some questionable financial practices at the school." Lost in thought, she forgets to keep walking, and nearly tumbles off the back of the treadmill.
    Â Â Â The towel attendant comes by. Madelaine takes one off his tongs. Agnes takes one, too, just to see what a really good gym towel feels like, if there's really any difference. There is.
    Â Â Â "I just don't know what to do," says Madelaine.
    Â Â Â "I think you're getting yourself worked up over nothing," says Agnes. "I really don't think it's a big deal. Would you mind telling me why I'm here?"
    Â Â Â "Sarah's coming home Saturday," says Madelaine. "She refuses to fly, naturally. I'd like you to take one of our cars and drive up to Miss Clavelle's to get her. I'll pay you seven hundred dollars for the day."
    Â Â Â Agnes ties her towel in a knot. "I'd be

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