A Place I’d Go To | Kathryn Scanlan | Granta

A Place I’d Go To

Kathryn Scanlan

It sat at the crotch, so to speak, of the spread-eagled strip mall. Out front was a cramped rhombus of fake grass tamped into a depression of concrete which – inch for inch – must’ve been one of the more pissed-upon places of the Earth.

Behind the reception desk there’d be some odorous soupy dish or goopy dip in a takeout tray, two or three half-drunk plastic cups of melted iced coffee, and several ripped sacks of scattered snacks. The receptionist was a young woman in a hoodie with unwashed hair and one perpetually red, infected eye.

The office cat was a fat gray stray with a missing leg. It sat in its basket of dirty towels next to the credit-card machine and rubbed its cold, wet nose on your hand while you signed your receipt. The cat liked to be patted firmly on the back, in the dander-powdered crook of the tail.

On the walls were garish paintings and boring photographs of pets, hung salon-style in big gaudy gold frames. Tall patrons knocked their heads against a low-slung plastic chandelier. Others sat on hot-pink padded chairs with their ill, anxious companions and spoke to them in squeaky baby voices or the booming, condescending theatrics of people performing parenthood in public.

Kathryn Scanlan

Kathryn Scanlan is the author of Aug 9—Fog and The Dominant Animal. She lives in Los Angeles and is the recipient of a 2021 Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Image © Melanie Schiff

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