The States, or "THAT FAMILY THAT STILL LIVES IN THE AGROPH BUILDING"

In Manhattan somewhere, there is an old building that, due to the exchanging of its ownership and genuine inattention, has gone missing. It is called the Agroph building, in honor of its owner, Arthur Agroph, an unassuming man with excellent taste who, at one time, quietly owned five percent of New York. It is tall, but then again not so tall as most of its fancy peers- it stands proud still at six stories high. It has seen people come and go, but now it has gone. That is, it has vanished in the sense that we have all forgotten about it. We walk by it or around it and because it does not welcome us in anymore, we do not look at it. From the outside we cannot notice its high ceilings, its well-preserved tile and dark wood floors that don't creak with age but rather with the assurance that they are trustworthy; a single blue-stained tile has become deeply acquainted with more personalities than most personalities. But we don't know any of this, we don't think about it, we just keep walking by this invisible building and no longer think it strange that it no longer boasts a doorman or carefully tended plants near its exterior. It is vanished, and we do not miss it.

Mrs. State lets the loose papers crumple in her lap as she tries to turn their pages. The sound the edges make as they crinkle against her overly starched dress upsets the cat, Smithy, who decides to leave his shoebox in search of something more entertaining. The cats never have a difficult time finding entertainment in the Agroph building- practically five floors to chase dust mites seem to make most of them happy, but Smithy is admittedly still suffering from the fright he was given when Mr. State left him in the dumbwaiter, between floors, for about twelve hours. He also had a run-in with the foot-model who decided that he was just darling and therefore should be entirely comfortable being shoved into her purse for a ride. Still, Smithy is a trooper, and as he pads down the hall a few of the other cats lazily follow, hoping he will lead them to some nook or patch of sunshine that they have overlooked. The empty rooms can be so cold, but the uncovered windows are so giant that the morning explodes through them and provides at least three hours wherein a feline does not have to form a tight circle with its body in order to be comfortable.

Mrs. State does not watch Smithy go, but she listens the little bell on his collar jingle as he ambles away. She wonders when she will hear it next, then returns her interest to the Times. Mrs. State has not only forgotten her homes age, but her own as well, and sometimes she is glad to have things like the newspaper to remind her of who has died recently. One thing Mrs. State seems very conscious of, on the other hand, is her ownership of practically the entire Agroph, and the fact that the fifth floor- her floor- is the only one populated within the fading ghost. She and Mr. State had purchased their apartment so many years ago at a modest price-- well, Mr. State thought it modest, Mrs. State was more content with her previous 80-dollar-a-month apartment arrangement with the lovely drop-down ironing board that appeared, inexplicably, in the kitchen. Mr. State was just bonkers for the Agroph, it was so elegant then, and such an acceptable way for the upper-middle class to mingle ever-so-slightly with the pure upper class. And yes- the ceilings were so high, they still are so high that Mrs. State thinks that if the Mythological gods were to partake in the New York lifestyle they would without a doubt prefer the Agroph.

As time had marched on, collected for posterity in Saturday Morning Posts and "While You Were Out" notes left piled on the bar, the bookcases, the coffee tables (there were eleven of them, after all), so had the other renters. The prices were too much for the modest living and too little for the high-profilers. Sometimes, when Mrs. State takes the elevator she gets off at the second floor rather than the lobby, but she always pauses before she boards again- she peruses the halls, counting the number of doors to the empty apartments, occasionally peering in to make sure that they are still clean and that no mischievous cat or parakeet or gerbil has found his way into a trap. Sometimes she opens the windows and lets out the must, sometimes she thinks of the visits she made to each room, so many years ago, when she came for visits and parties and Christmas well-wishing. She does retrace her steps often, without knowing, as though she were on rails. Here is where she met the tennis star and his wife- they didn't stay long but they dressed in white and pink. Here is where she took the kitten runt from the Bird family. They once bred red cats, but this one had turned out gold, so they did not want him. Now they were all gone- the 2nd, the 3rd, the 4th, the 6th floor had all been slowly evacuated, and eventually purchased by the States. It was now all theirs, and while it did not go to rust it can not go unsaid that they were many empty rooms. Void, that is, of many people. Memories and ghosts and determined cats still braved their halls, and on their rare wanderings onto the other floors, the States never feel as though they are lonely.