The Secret Life of Kitty Lyons: Linda Chavez

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The Secret Life of Kitty Lyons by Maggie Cutler  


The Sub

George W’s nominees for cabinet have me so frenzied with lust I don’t know
where to start. Attorney General Ashcroft, with his Boy Scout’s crush on
Robert E. Lee? That Norton woman for Interior who championed manufacturers
of poisonous lead paint? History decides for me. When Labor Secretary
nominee Linda Chavez resigns, I must hurry to grab one last moment
with her before she is replaced by a new right-winger from another minority


In my fantasy I am small and dark and strong, like one of her illegal
workers. I have run from Guatemala and the badness there with no green card
and I may starve. The Government says I must get minimum wage but, alas,
I am not worthy. My English consists of only a few words (“Will work
for food”).


But then I meet kind Linda Chavez. From her big heart she give me thousands
of dollar “spending money,” saying, “Kitty, you down on yaw luck.” She feels
so sorry for me, she lets me stay in her beautiful home two years. Just one
rule: if anybody ask, she says, tell them I’m “a free agent.” I learn those
new words and repeat them often.


Being a free agent means figure out everything Linda wants, then do it
before she asks. Because if she tells me, “wash my panties,” then somebody
in government might imagine that I am hired for not enough money and no
overtime or taxes, in which case, Linda explain, I can be sent back to the


I guess what will please Linda most is if I go do all the shopping then come
home and clean the house, toilet to oven. After that, vacuum rugs, do
laundry, cook dinner. And guess what? I am right! Linda, she loves it! I
feel at last like I deserve to be there. So I do all that often.


One day, on television comes this lady, Kimba Wood. She almost gets
appointed to a big, important office, but the Government learns she had a
no-document worker in her home long ago, so she loses everything. Linda says
Kimba is bad. But I get scared that Linda’s kindness to me will someday hurt
her the same way.


“Linda,” I say, “let me prove that I clean for love, not money.” And guess
what? She agrees! So that Tuesday, instead of doing the downstairs, I go
upstairs and she is in a slip, lying on her big bed like a sunset on a


She has roses in a vase and a candle that smells of cinnamon. I come slowly
towards her because I am so shy. I touch her leg. It is like silk, but firm
underneath, like her fine mattress. I curl up at her feet and lick the arch
of her foot. Then I lick higher. I go inch by inch like she was the kitchen
floor and I was on my knees scrubbing gently with a magic cleanser, getting
all the raisins up, all the teeny spots that make filth so quickly.


“Lie still, and I’ll make you very clean,” I promise, and she lets the air
out of her in a silent sigh. (She is so powerful that even her breath is
something she governs.) Then I plunge my sponge in. Her smooth edge, her
ruffled rim, the deeps beyond. The first abyss. The second. Inside, she has
washed for me with a soap that tastes like lemonade.


I grip her thighs now at the top, firmly, like I’m steering the vacuum, and
I push and pull against the secret bones inside her, licking and licking the
shelf of her, her wall, her floor. Cleaning out all that terrible fear that
the Government has put in her for being so good to me.


When her fear escapes, she tenses, pitches, grabs my hair, wraps her legs
around me until I think I’m going to smother. We are one creature then, one
blood. I feel what she feels.


Her eyes are soft afterwards. If every worker in America had my attitude,
she says, this nation would be great once more. She is such a patriot, she
thinks always of her country. And she promotes me then. “I know what we can
tell people,” she smiles, so much love for me in her, “Instead of calling
you a ‘free agent’, we can say you’re a subcontractor. A sub!” And
she laughs like champagne glasses clinking.


All that was long ago. Now I am a citizen and married to a fine man and
happy. As Secretary of Labor she could have helped so many the way she
helped me. I am so sad that it was because of her kindness to me that she
was forced to bow out. I hope that nice religious man, Mr. Ashcroft, does
better. The lead-paint Interior lady, too.