Reid once again adjusted his worn fedora hat, a habit that Zooey had easily come to recognize, and shuffled his feet unaware of what to do now that he had Zooey in such close proximity.
She watched him nervously fidgeting, and deep inside her mind she smiled at the fact that he dressed like Elvis Costello, who she was secretly, and passionately in love with.
“Come on,” Reid said grumpily, changing his entire tone and posture with one twist of his hat. He directed her to follow, and she scurried behind him.
Once she caught up with him, he slightly turned her way as they walked. “Listen,” he said, “I’m not usually this nice to people, alright?”
Zooey nodded, not understanding his quick personality changes, but going along with it for the sheer amusement.
There was a lot that she didn’t know about him.
But she liked it.
“Soo…” Zooey said looking cautiously over at Reid, “Are we going to talk or is this going to be all awkward now that you keep having these frequent Sybil moments?”
“I do not have multiple personalities, thank you,” he said, “Like I told you, I’m not usually this nice to people.”
“Why me then?” Zooey asked curiously.
“Because I like you. You’re funny, demented, and you actually talk to me even though I was stalking you and come off as scomething close to a psychopathic stranger,” he explained.
“I don’t think you’re psychopathic,” she said cheerily, “odd, but you made me feel better back there. And anyway, why aren’t you nice to people?”
“I don’t like people very much,” he said scowling.
“Then why don’t you move to somewhere remote, like…Montana?” Zooey offered.
“Its cold there. Like Siberian kind of cold, plus there’s a bunch of cows and psuedo-fundamentalist people in Patagonia clothes running around free there, what’s the point?”
“Um…how about the desert?”
“Come on,” Reid said, dragging Zooey to a bus. She felt awkward, being dragged home by a moody and mysterious boy who was delusional to this decade’s fashion. She sat next to him on the bus, not taking the time to ask where they were going and drifted off in her mind, examining all the questions she held there, and infrequently she would hum the occassional Gary Numan song quietly to herself.
Before she was finished humming Down in the Park, Reid was slowly dragging Zooey out of the bus into a neighbourhood that was not frequented by Chinese take-aways, coin-operated laundromats and dingy five floor walk-ups, but with the antiquated architectural structures that she only could have dreamed of adventuring in.
The bus hummed out of sight and Reid led Zooey to a massive block building of penthouses and Italian marble. She stood at the base of the building, letting her head rise to the rooftop, almost indistinguishable in the bright sunlight and she silently mouthed the word, whoa.
“YOU LIVE HERE ?”
“Is there a problem?” Reid asked as he made his way up the steps where an aged doorman in a green jacket held the door open and greeted him.
“Good afternoon Mr. Hastings? Do we have a visitor today?” The old doorman peered around Reid to look at Zooey.
“Oh, a pretty one she is! Always loved the girls with long dark hair, I did. Why, I don’t think you’ve ever had a visitor young Mr. Hastings, much like your crabby old aunt before you…I see you’re on the right track…” He straightened his jacket and smiled broadly at Zooey.
“Edward, leave me alone, okay?” Reid said, inconspicuously handing the old man a few bills and lifting his eyebrows as if they had some unspoken agreement where Reid paid for silence of the senile.
“Zooey, come on,” he said with a change in his tone. He was back to his nicer personality, and Zooey found that her opportunity to follow into the mysterious cavern of the rich penthouse dwellers.
Edward winked at her as she walked past and Zooey couldn’t help but smile.
Zooey made her way behind Reid through the doors that glinted happily with the afternoon sunlight. It was dim inside, but the lobby was filled with ornate treasures and the distinct smell of Chanel No. 5.
Zooey thought to herself how this looked like one of those grand hotels you would see in old movies where women wore fluffy fur coats and satin evening gowns and men smoked cigars under funny moustaches.
This, she thought to herself, is the perfect hideaway.
They traipsed along the stretches of marble towards the elevator, where another elderly man waited indside to take them to their destination. A saggy woman wearing the remnants of an ancient fox fur followed them carrying a more than enthusiastic pomeranian that looked like it was too much for the frail arms to handle.
“Chutney, queit!” The old woman bellowed in a deep and overdrawn voice.
“Ah, Miss Bellafonte, so good to see you,” the man in the elevator chimed, “And Mr. Hastings!”
“God, I’m surrounded by geriatrics,” Reid moaned.
As they clamoured into the elevator, the old woman turned and glared at the elevator operator.
“Excuse meee,” She said, now in a deep drawn out English accent, “But my name is not Miss Bellafonte, my name is Elizabeth. Elizabeth Taylor. But I wouldn’t expect you to know that would I?” The pomeranian, sensing the edge in her voice, growled profusely and yipped at the unfortunate man.
Reid leaned in towards Zooey, “I swear this woman is mad. Everyday she thinks she’s someone else. Yesterday she was Scareltt O’hara and the day before she was Marilyn Monroe.”
Zooey giggled silently sneaking a glance at ‘Elizabeth Taylor’. The elevator man, overhearing their conversation chimed in.
“I live for this stuff,” he chuckled.
“I know you’re talking about me!” Elizabeth Taylor snapped, “They are always talking about me!” She put her nose in the air and dramatically waved her right hand and twirled around. The elevator stopped and the doors opened.
“Here you go Miss Taylor,” the man said bowing.
The old woman leaned forward and squinted dangerously at the elavator operator.
“I thought I told you my name was Katherine Hepburn!” She sneered and turned away, hobbling down the hallway as the elevator doors closed.
Zooey burst into a fit of muffled laughter.
“Up we go then,” the man said.
“What’s your name?” Zooey asked him curiously.
“Oh,” he said curiously, “My name is Archibald Huntington. Archie for short. I’ve never seen you here before, if you don’t mind me saying. I never see young people in this building except for Mr. Reid here.”
“My name is Zooey. Zooey Jean Jeanie Stardust. I”m a friend of Reid’s,” Zooey said.
“You have an unusual name, Miss Stardust,” Archie said.
“Yeah, well, my parents were real big David Bowie fans, they tried to cram as much of him into my name as possible. Did you know David Bowie had a son named Zowie? My sister was named after old musicians too,” Zooey said.
“I always liked that Bowie chap,” Archie said happily.