February 6, 2011

Frederick - Into the Courtyard

Continued from Agnes (or here) or both
As they approached the spiral stairway that wound down into the treetops Frederick noticed that some of the trees were beginning to infringe on the walkway. He made a mental note that some pruning would be necessary. Some of the trees were nearly as tall as the roof of the buildings now. It was the first time he had been on the upper balcony in several weeks and the rate of growth surprised him. He would have to speak with Franco and arrange a crew.

As Agnes descended the stairway she had to push branch ends out of her way, and a couple of times they swished back at Frederick. He had to keep his guard and his arms up to prevent getting slapped in the face. To help avoid the branches he moved in closer to the center pole. He really needed to spend some time tending to the courtyard. Agnes was wending her way down slowly and cautiously, not seeming too sure of her footing, she was judiciously clinging to the hand rails.

The bottom of the stairway landed in the midst of a small pond. When Agnes got to the bottom she stopped suddenly and he nearly ran her over. Frederick told her to follow the stepping stones to the right. The stones circled around the stairs and led to the open space of the courtyard. Frederick followed her across the stones and collected her at the edge of the pool.

“This is an absolutely amazing garden Frederick. You are responsible for all of this?”

“Thank you. It has been my pleasure to maintain this garden for a few years now. It was maintained by someone else long ago, but he has passed away. When I moved in it had fallen into disrepair and I made a pact with the owner of my building to let me take over it’s maintenance and development. As I said last night, landscaping is an avocation of mine and this space has been a perfect opportunity for that expression.”

“It is gorgeous; so lush and green, and so mature; like being in a park.”

“It is a surprisingly large space in the center of these buildings. There are many tricks of layering plantings to create depth, and so while it is a big space, it is not as large as it might appear.”

“Well, it is just lovely Frederick; it really is like a small park.”

“Thank you.”

Agnes seemed to falter as she walked, then stopped and turned to Frederick and said, “I am feeling a little dizzy and fuzzy. I think I am a bit overdone from the rich food and alcohol last night and the strong coffee this morning. Would it be all right if I sat down?”

“Of course. Let’s sit down on that bench and we can relax. I will tell you more and you can catch your breath.”

Frederick took her wrist and guided her to a small white iron love-seat style bench. As they settled into their seats, Frederick put his arm across the back of the bench so it was resting across her shoulders. He looked over at Agnes and saw her looking into his eyes, but his gaze seemed to embarrass her. She immediately turned her face down and away. She was a confusion of shy openness. He pulled at her shoulder and she leaned in against his body and buried her head into the crook of his neck. Tentatively, he tangled his fingers in her hair; toying with it, swirling, combing, petting and listened to her soft murmurs in response. She reached over and took his hand up off his knee and held it in hers. She held his fingers across the palm of one hand and rubbed her finger absentmindedly up and down along the back of his index finger. When she lifted her head back up she was smiling.

“I think I am feeling better now and I am really looking forward to a tour of this beautiful garden.”

They got up off of the bench; he took her wrist and guided her along a path. It led out to the middle of a open grassy area in nearly the center of the courtyard. He stood behind her and placed his hands on her shoulder. He directed her attention and turned her slightly to the left.

“Over there is the stairway we just came down and the pond we walked across.”

The stairs were visible here and there as they looked up the three stories of the interior of the building but much of it was obscured by three mature trees; one on either side and another that stood between them and the stairway. Just down and to the right of the stairs was the pond they had walked across and further off to the right was the bench where they had rested.

With his hands on her shoulders and her neck, and at times her head, Frederick encouraged Agnes to turn this way and that way as he explained the major features of the foliage and landscaping of the space. He noticed as he spoke how responsive and attuned she was to his touch. At the slightest shift of his hands on her shoulders or move to her neck or head, he felt her muscles respond and she would shift her gaze and posture. He was pleased with the way she moved in response to his touch, guiding her this way or that as they walked. He felt an increasing warmth through her skin.

Suddenly there was a digital chirping sound. Frederick reached into his pocket and answered his phone. He listened, then said, “Yes,” listened more, and then, “Hold on.” He pulled the phone from his head.

“Agnes, I need to take this call, please excuse me a minute. Just relax and enjoy yourself. I will be right back.” He gave her a ‘hold on a moment’ gesture with his finger.

She looked concerned and started to say something but he turned and walked away. He walked off a few meters and stopped and continued the phone conversation. It was a routine business matter, but something that required a timely decision. Frederick listened, nodding his head absently several times, and then said, “Yes. Yes. Tell them we are absolutely committed to finalizing the arrangement. Set a meeting for the five of us at their offices for lunch, Monday. Thank you.” He clicked off the phone, put it back in his pocket and swiveled around to return to Agnes, but she was not there.

Where could she have gone? Frederick looked to the bench, then the pond, then further along the trail they had been following but could not see her anywhere. He walked back to the clearing and looked to the right and then to the left. In the distance, toward the far corner he saw her looking through the bushes, in a cautious but inquisitive way. He called out her name and headed quickly over to her. She had heard him call out and turned around toward him just as he reached out and grabbed hold of her arm. He pulled her away from the bushes she was investigating. He spoke as he hurriedly pulled her along, back to where they had been talking before the phone call.

“I am done with my call now. Let’s continue our tour back over here. I prefer you not go wandering around here on your own.”

“I was just looking at the beautiful flowers over there. It is a nice and sunny spot. The ground cover is spectacular; such brilliant colors.”

“Yes, yes, that is a lovely spot. I understand your curiosity but I do not want you wandering off again.”

With a look of concern on her face, Agnes nodded her head slowly, and looked down, “Yes, I am sorry.”

Frederick looked at her, trying to decide her state of mind, and in a stern voice he said, “It is not enough to be sorry, you need to be careful.”

He let that thought float between them and continued to watch her expression. Eventually she raised her head slightly, and spoke softly and said, “Yes sir.” He was satisfied that she truly understood that this was serious.

He took hold of her chin, lifted her head up and broke the silence. “That spot is lovely, I often eat a picnic lunch there. It is also a nice place to lay back on a blanket and have a nice sunny nap. The brightly colored flowers and their sweet scent can be intoxicating. Perhaps when we finish our walk around we can spread a blanket and have a small lunch.”

He gave her a quick steady smile, put his arm around her and resumed explaining the history and botany of the garden to her. As they meandered he explained that before these buildings were here, this had been an area for livestock and feed stores. And over the years as the neighborhood developed, buildings had been built out around the edges of the yard at street fronts. As the buildings along the streets were built, it left this sizable space “landlocked” inside and behind the buildings. Eventually the buildings completely encircled the yard area and over time it’s purpose changed. The neighborhood became more and more urban, losing it’s rural roots. As he understood it, the families of the building owners had encouraged and supported the people who lived in the buildings in developing this courtyard.

He looked at Agnes and saw that her attention was drifting. He realized that he might be going on a little too much. When they came back around to the open grassy area again Frederick asked if Agnes was hungry and she said she was a little.

Holding out his keys, Frederick said, “I have a couple things to do down here. I want you to go back up to the apartment and make us a light lunch; perhaps a sandwich, some cut up fruit, and a small bottle of wine. There is a basket in the shelves in the kitchen island.”

She seemed frozen by the request, but he could not read the expression any deeper.

“Is that something you can do for us?”

“I think I can, yes, but do you trust me in your apartment on my own? And, and . . . I am not sure what you might have that would make a good lunch.”

“I trust you on both counts Agnes. While I doubt you would go rummaging, you are welcome to see anything and everything in my apartment. And as far as the food goes, feel free to find anything you might enjoy eating and I am sure I will be happy with your choices.”

Agnes smiled at his reassurances, but still seemed to have some doubt, but said, “Okay. I will.”

Frederick stood watching her walk away, enjoying the way her shapely body moved. Even in what he imagined to be an uncomfortable situation she seemed to have an air of confidence and poise. She looked sexy. He continued to watch her as she climbed her way back up the spiral stairway and disappeared into the building.

Frederick was feeling elated by her company and in fact quite aroused, he was finding himself very tempted. He was very pleased with the way their friendship was developing, by her responsiveness to him and he was looking forward to getting much closer.

He shook himself out of his reverie and turned and walked back toward the far corner of the courtyard . . .

(Agnes's reaction)

(Agnes goes to make lunch)


  1. What a lucky girl Agnes...I almost envy her.
    Good work. Hope to read more soon

  2. Not sure about Fredricks reaction to Agnes exploring some of the garden without him. Agnes seems so enthralled with everything he's showing her, she got carried away with the beauty of it all.

    I love how you are layering their relationship slowly. I am anxious to see how the garden plays into that going forward.

    Lovely piece.

  3. I am really loving this story...they way that it is building with each installment..and with each piece my curiosity continues to grow and I want to read more.

    thank you so much for sharing this with all of us.

  4. Lovely-sounding garden. I've love to be there. I'm with Drench. I don't understand Fredrick's reaction to Agnes wandering off. What was that all about? Looking forward to more of Frederick and Agnes.

  5. Fredrick is something of a mystery man it seems, given his reaction to Agnes wandering off.
    I'm very curious to read why!
    Thanks for every episode.