Previously: A man whose name may have been Alyosha (could it have been a stage name? He was a dancer.) vanished. A group of tenants on the Upper West Side decided to try and find him. They went to his empty apartment, where they met with his handsome super, a man named Anibal.
They stood around the refrigerator, the group of them. Alyosha’s apartment did not look lived in. It had a temporary quality, the opposite of cozy. Nothing seemed well-used. The room was too grey, and too white. No plants, no books, no comfortable chair or couch. All he had in the refrigerator was a single Budweiser, in a can. Not even an old apple. No real clues to who he was. Not really.
Pin Ball did a reading out loud of the letter in question. Although his was more a drag queen identity, of the old fashioned variety, he loved sequins in all colors especially silver, they reminded him of fish scales, even on his supermarket forays, he wore something sequined. He’d sewed them onto his Converse hightops. Pin Ball’s voice, however, was otherwise. Loud and authoritative. Pin Ball knew how to emote.
“Dear Good Friend Sir,” he boomed. By the time he got to the conclusion, he’d morphed into Maria Callas, singing out loud:
“Yours In Hope, In God, In Good Will, and In Eternal Friendship, Yoruba Edo Efik, Jr. Jr.”
Every single person clapped.
It was Anibal who brought them all back into focus. Practical Anibal, who could mend broken pipes, paint and plaster, who knew how to lay down tiles and fix the plumbing.
“I found a phone number,” he said. “It’s in Israel, I think. He told me once that he was from Jerusalem. Anyway it’s an international number. He said I just remembered that now.”
“Israel,” said Mrs. Israel, and she laughed, something she did not do often. “You may not believe this,” she announced to the room, “but I’ve never been there. My husband either,” she added. “Turkoff is my maiden name, by the way.”
“Noted,” said Charles, who brought a yellow pad of his own to his first detective outing. He liked the idea that detectives had yellow pads.
“I’m worried,” said Naomi, who worried all too often, “that we are losing sight of our goal. To find Alyosha. How many people think he answered this insane letter, that he actually fell for what has to be a scam?”
“I would,” said Eve. “I’m not sure it’s so crazy. There’s always a chance it can happen. Why not? Are we all so cynical?” she asked.
“Do you actually think that?” asked Charles. “This can’t be a real letter.”
Richard and Richard both looked annoyed. “He was amused by the letter,” said Richard Number one, “that’s all.”
Naomi put her hands in front of her mouth – an imaginary megaphone. “Ladies And Gentlemen and Everyone Else,” she said. The emptyish studio echoed. “Let’s actually do something. Let’s go to Anibal’s apartment on the second floor and call the number. Maybe Alyosha himself will answer. Our search will be over.”
“Why would he have walked away?” asked Charles. “Just like that? There’s got to be a reason.”
“If we call maybe he’ll tell us,” Naomi said.
“My phone is your phone,” Anibal said, and they all walked down the stairs in single file.