We crept cautiously out into the hallway. Then, we just stood there. We didn’t know where to go. We didn’t know what to do with our pass key. We were full of purposeless purpose. Suddenly, a door right beside us opened. We saw a startled face, then the door slammed shut. Well, it shut as far as it was going to shut with Mike’s foot in it. We all piled into Mike and used him to shove our way into the apartment.
“Get the hell out of here,” the gay potential adoptive parent hissed. “Being friends of Bob doesn’t mean that you can go bullying your way into all of the apartments on this floor.”
“We aren’t friends of Bob,” Mike hissed back. “You really hurt my foot.”
“We need help,” I said. “Our friend is missing. She disappeared during the meeting tonight. Did you see anything?”
His eyes shifted back and forth.
“Anything at all?,” I said, suddenly feeling hope.
“This place has changed a lot in the past couple of days,” the man said.
His name was Jeffrey. He invited us to sit down at his dining table for tea. He had four cats, so Lexington was in hog heaven, finally with his own kind. Bethel stayed in my lap, sharing nibbles of cookies and viewing the cat herd with horror.
“At first we were all just scared and hiding in our own apartments, peeking out of the blinds, watching TV news. Then, word got around about the bird on the tennis court. That was when things really started to change.”
“Bob started trying to rally people to escape. My partner and I had seen that weird newscaster screaming that he and his family had tried to get out and had been turned away by soldiers. We didn’t understand why they wouldn’t turn us away, too. I mean, did Bob mean for some of us to be bullet fodder so he and his people could get through or what? John and I decided we weren’t going anywhere. We couldn’t get all of our cats out of here, anyway. Even if it had seemed like a good idea, we couldn’t leave the cats.” His eyes welled up.
“Then John disappeared. Just…poof. I was taking a shower, and he was gone when I came out.”
“Holy crap, you are kidding,” Trish said.
“I wish I were. I can’t get anyone to help me. Bob says John probably moved in with someone else in the building. John wouldn’t just leave me. He wouldn’t.” Jeffrey started to cry in earnest and we all sat there feeling uncomfortable until he regained control.
“Do you know of any other disappearances?,” Moira asked.
“No. We aren’t talking to each other very much, anymore. This used to be a friendly building. Everybody is in survival mode, I guess. Suspicious and paranoid and bitchy as hell. Bob isn’t helping with any of that.”
“Bob gave us the impression that he’s the big daddy of the building. That he is trying to keep everybody calm until you all escape,” I said.
“I don’t know what the hell Bob’s deal is,” Jeffrey said, “Hell, I don’t even know Bob.”
“I guess it’s hard to get to know your neighbors in a building this big,” I said.
“Bob isn’t my neighbor,” Jeffrey said. “He doesn’t live here. I’d never seen him before in my life, at least not in person. I’ve seen him on a few old episodes of M*A*S*H, though. He used to guest star. And I saw him interviewed on TV when he got that part in The Jungle Book On Broadway.”