Day 4

Today I arranged myself in the adorably crinkled look of one who has spent all night hacking away at computer codes: faded band tee, perfectly mussed bed head, and ancient jogging shoes I borrowed from my brother a few weeks ago. Each morning I still have to chant my "name" at the mirror, trying smirks and smiles that Sharlene Wallington, cyber cutie, would use.

I was trying to see the back of my head with the help of several cracked hand mirrors, when the door rattled lightly on its loose hinges.

I swung the door open. "Hello, Tina!"

She jumped, silver shadowed lids fluttering. "Ms. Wall. um. Wallington. The Aldecotts. um. 'request your presence'. Apartment 2B." This last bit was muttered at her shoes before she skittered away back to her own apartment.

The Aldecotts. Well, the Aldecotts have certainly had some time on their hands in their nine years' residence.

Pinned to their door is a small harp, I guess it would be called a lute, that if you lift the small, thread-strung weights leaning on the strings, it plays a ringing random tune that echoes itself after you are let in. Inside, silks and tassles swing from white and gold tracery walls. Eccentric patterns of putti, angels, and mythical creatures twist in the faux-pas wall paper. Cracked diamond mirrors fling the images back and again in a mind boggling loop.

Elaine, she insisted I call her Elaine, sprung up from her settee lounge to pump my hand, chittering questions about my life. Most of the resulting conversation was spent watching her ricochet around her kitchen -- fixing this, adjusting that, testing the "zesty twang" of the other, sending the occaissional grin back at me. I speculatively lowered myself into a chair at the table, noting that it was just a cheap Deseret Industries model, painted white in flaking arcrylic.

The woman was tall, abnormally so, and draped in red and gold robes. Literally, layers of red and gold bathrobes that she miraculously was still able to wave her arms in. She talked with her hands as an accessory to speech, bouncing her bony fingers in a mock chariot, in sweeping motions to take in the room, or to blushingly cover her face when she apologized for "blathering on so much".

I assured her it was no problem. I tried steering the conversation towards the other tenants, but she shook her head, a secret smile twisting her red mouth, as she slid plate after plate of aromatic foods across the table top.

We ate. Rather, I ate, she talked, a bite of food speared on her fork as she fluttered her hands.

Elaine sent me home with towers of tupperware, waving away the idea of bringing them back. It was only until I was stacking technicolor noodles and sweetmeats that I realized I forgot to ask one thing:

Where is Jason Aldecott?

Sharlene

The End

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