“I really can’t search the building,” Bob said. “We are talking about people’s homes, here.” We’d called down to the front desk for help and Bob had appeared at our door almost immediately. But it suddenly seemed like he wasn’t going to be much help, after all.
“A voluntary search, then,” I said. “We can knock on doors and ask people if it’s OK for us to look.”
“I honestly think that your friend ran into someone she knows and went visiting. You know that Manhattan is just a giant small town.”
“Jill wouldn’t have left without letting us know she where she was going,” Jonathan said.
“Maybe she didn’t come back to the apartment at all,” Bob reasoned.
“The pets were locked in different rooms when we left for the meeting. They don’t get along. Jill had to have been the one who let them out,” I was gritting my teeth. “We are wasting time. Help us find our friend. Please.”
“She’s a grown woman. She didn’t get lost. She probably went off with some boyfriend you don’t know about. She’ll be back.” Bob headed for the door, but he stopped to have a final word. “Don’t prove me wrong about you. Don’t turn out to be troublemakers.”
After he was safely gone, Mike said, “That old son of a bitch. This is total bullshit. Let’s go find Jill.”
It’s really hard to walk around casually when you are looking for a whole person. We’d weighed the merits of blustering around and asking everyone we saw if they’d seen Jill, but we had to wonder if Bob would have us shoved out on 42nd St. without as much as a gray fake awning to protect us. After whistling through the lobby three times and foolishly glancing behind potted plants, Moira suddenly struck out for the front desk.
“Is there some way we can have our friend paged? We can’t find her. This is such a big ol’ building, we’re afraid she has gotten confused about which room we are staying in.”
“This isn’t a hotel,” the desk clerk replied, without even looking up from her magazine. “We don’t page people.”
“Well, how do you communicate with everyone in the building?,” Moira asked.
“Community announcement board over there,” the clerk pointed, again without looking up.
Moira said, “You’ve been so helpful. It’s really touching. What’s your name, sweetheart? I’d like to mention you to your boss.”
“Annie. Annie Warbucks,” the clerk replied.
Moira smiled and launched herself across the high desk, fast as lightning. Her legs dangled on our side. She slapped the clerk’s magazine shut and grabbed a wrist, while she was over there. “Thank you very much for being so fucking helpful and friendly. You’ve made us feel right at home. We’re from Hell, you know.” With that, she let go of the clerk and slid slowly off the desk, never taking her eyes off the clerk’s face. She finally smiled nastily one more time and rejoined us.
Trish made a fart sound with her mouth as we quick-stepped out of the lobby. “God, that was so funny. I bet she peed in her chair. Did you see her face? Oh my God. Hahahaha!”
“Shut up, Trish,” Moira said, as she flashed us a glimpse of the pass key she’d stolen from the desk.
Back in our apartment, we decided to pack up. We’d carry stuff with us while we searched. That included the pets. We couldn’t afford to lose anybody else. A quick toss of the apartment, and we each had a full backpack. I had Bethel papoosed, and Mike agreed to carry Lexington.
“Shit,” Moira said, “I didn’t feel safe here, but I wasn’t totally terrified until tonight.”
We stood in the living room for a minute, just looking around at the comforts we might be leaving behind.
“Somebody grab that gray sofa cover,” I said. “I’m afraid we’re going to need it.”