The Yellow ShawlFrancisco ArcellanaRepublic PeriodI.The Man's Story (1953)PEPE HAS a new place; but it wasn't hard to find. It is only a block away from Taft Avenue and about a hundred yards off San Andres corner. The street is not a first class street, it is practically a dirt road, but it is very quiet. You wouldn't believe it is within a stone's throw of the city's great south national highway.The place is impressive. It is an apartment building that doesn't look like one at all. It looks more like a mansion. That is probably what it was, a rich man's home, before it was converted to a hostelry.A wall almost a man's height surrounds it. The gate, two panels of very heavy wood with inlaid beaten brass filigree work, this afternoon was ajar - open only wide enough of admit one person at a time.In the courtyard was a eucalyptus with liana vines, a fountain, a lot of ferns and flowering plants in huge pots, and a square lawn of thick Bermuda grass that has begun to bulge in places.A concrete driveway leads beneath a porte-cochere, up beside the building, and disappears into the back.I saw two entrances, a wider side entrance and a front one. I used the front entrance.A flight of three concrete steps leads to an exposed square concrete landing. The door is tall, the lower third stout oakwood, the upper two-thirds of Florentine glassand ironwork.Inside, it was very cool. And it wasn't dim at all. Light came from the front door and the open side entrance. There was a central skylight above the system of stairs.The paneling and the parquet flooring are all strong rich brown oakwood. Against the wall near the foot of the first flight of steps are the mail boxes with name cards and the black buttons with, above them, the cut out brass letters from A to G.The first stairs are wide and carpeted. Opening on to the landing, also covered with a rug, are three doors-these are Apartments A, B, and C.Two narrow flights ascend from the first landing on either side of the first stairs. A long strip of rug covers all seven steps.The second square landing ends in a tall window also of Florentine glass. Two narrow passageways, railed off from the stairwell, connect the landing with a longhall.Four doors, two on either side, open onto this hall-Apartments D and E towards the rear and Apartments F and G forward. The hall is dominated by another window, again of Florentine glass.Apartment F is Pepe's.When I pushed the door in, I saw in the wall facing me, even as the door swung open, another door opening, swinging outward, toward where I stood, out in the hall before the apartment. The doors came to a standstill simultaneously I noticeda man before the farther side of the inner door. I stood and waited. It seemed the man could sustain silence and stillness longer that I could, so I decided to call out to him. Before I did so, I stepped over the threshold. When I saw him stride to the
inner door the same time I crossed the threshold, I realized it was a mirror before me, a tall wall mirror.