Albert used a table fork to divine where Alyosha disappeared. The disparate motley group of detectives, all residents of the same Upper West Side building, were not believer types. Still, there was a general bated breath mood as Albert moved the fork, a kind of shake and bake method with his left hand. The fork indicated, according to Albert, that Alyosha was not far away.
“It’s all about sex,” said Mrs. Israel, the true wild card in their group. The rest of them, although they did not have all that much in common, not really, the rest of them were in their twenties or thirties. Albert had just turned 40, but he told the world 35 and everyone believed him. He looked good, every single day. Mrs. Israel did not look good. She looked efficient.
She was 58, but she was not a young 58. It was the eighties, and young 58’s had not yet peppered the universe. She wore bookkeeper in Queen Elizabeth outfits, featuring a navy blue that had more in common with the British Naval services than anything else. Hers was never a fashion statement. Neat above all, there was no time of day or night when she was not presentable. A bookkeeper, she believed in columns, in rows, and her presence was always a help, although it took a minute or two to realize that.
“It’s always about sex,” she said to the room of young people, all hopeful every single one of them, that theirs would be a different kind of life. It was the eighties. They lived in New York City. Brooklyn was not yet Brooklyn. “We pretend otherwise. Let me tell you a story. It’s true. I don’t know how to tell a story that isn’t true,” she said.
“I do,” said Charles, but everyone ignored him.
“When I was a girl a long time ago, I lived in a small town near Buffalo. It was not a poor town and it wasn’t rich either. My father worked in a toy factory nearby, and my mother stayed at home and cleaned. Her life was a series of rituals. My sister and I were both B-plus students. Nothing special. Not bad either. That’s who we all were. I had long brown hair back then. It was my strongest asset and even though I was a girl in a small town who didn’t know much, I knew that.”
Everyone listened carefully. For a few minutes anyway they forgot about Alyosha.
“One day,” she said. “All stories begin with one day.”
Pin Ball shouted “Yes!”