We all stood there and let horror wash over us. There was just no way to not be horrified by Jonathan’s disappearance. It was horrible if he’d gone off by himself. It was horrible if someone had taken him out of the apartment. It was most horrible if Jonathan had never been with us, had maybe never even existed, but I sincerely doubted we were going to talk about that possibility.
“Do you think we are crazy?,” Moira asked. “Do you think we are crazy as shit and we just thought Jonathan was with us? Or maybe,” she continued, “he is here, talking to us, and we just can’t see or hear him. Maybe Jill has been following us this whole time, begging us to talk to her, telling us that she isn’t gone.”
Not only had she blurted out what I thought was an unblurtable possibility, Moira had managed to take the horror into a realm I hadn’t even imagined. We all gaped at Moira. Moira hadn’t enjoyed what she’d said, for once. She was pale and ill-looking.
“This is ridiculous,” Trish broke the silence. “I know that Jonathan was here with us, and now he’s not. Same with Jill. Ain’t no way I am imagining things because I am military, and I don’t imagine things. I put bombs on planes.” Trish turned to Moira, “What you are saying is freaky. Don’t say it again.”
That taken care of, Trish turned to me and Mike. “Now, we were all here in the living room together last night. Anybody hear anything? See anything?”
“Well,” Mike considered, “I saw Jonathan get up and leave.”
“Really?,” Trish asked.
“No, not really. I’m just humoring you. Trish, one of us would have said something if we’d seen Jonathan leave. We would have gotten everyone up and stopped Jonathan from leaving.”
“Oh,” Trish said. Unable to cope, she went and sat on the sofa by herself. Bethel went with her because Bethel assumed that Trish was sitting down to eat. Lynn quietly snuck through our small crowd, made herself a plate, and did go to the living room to eat, making her Bethel’s current hero.
“We were all really tired,” I said. “I think I would have slept through anything less than a war. Do you realize that this is the fourth day we’ve been in…whatever this situation is. It feels like it has been a month.”
Mike had been thinking. I could tell because his eyebrows eureka-ed upward as his thinking bore fruit.
“Can we go around the building asking people if they saw him?,” he asked Kat and Kate. “Is there any sense of community going on, here?” Mike had obviously chosen to dismiss any possible reality that involved us being mad as hatters, and I was fine with that, for the time being.
“Shit, no,” Kate stated flatly. “We aren’t the only people who aren’t the original tenants of this building. I think that a lot of the original tenants were put out on the street, actually. Do you know why you are all still here? Kat and I talked about it last night, and we actually feel safer with you here. We could have had you tossed our on your asses, but we don’t exactly trust a lot of the neighbors.”
“Is Show World in control of the building, then?,” I asked.
“Yeah,” said Kat. She wandered over to the stove to dish out the food that Lynn hadn’t loaded onto her own plate. “Manuel was in charge, at first. At least, he thought he was. He was giving out apartments, acting like a real big shot. That’s how we got a decent place early. Then, the muscle from the peep show realized they were missing out. Some of them were never good guys. They aren’t just bouncers. They deal to the girls, they basically mug drunk customers. Anyhow, they got together and raided apartments. Threw people out with the clothes on their backs, took what they wanted from the apartments, and then passed out rooms like they were kings bestowing favors.”
“What happened to Manuel?,” I asked.
“They took him to the roof and tossed him off,” Kate said. “We heard them bitching later that all he had in his wallet was a twenty dollar bill.”