Previously: A man disappeared from the Upper West Side, a mysterious man that no one seemed to know very well. His name was Alyosha. His super, Anibal Ramos, maybe had a way to contact him. There was a phone number in Jerusalem on Alyosha’s lease. A group of tenants from a building a few blocks away decided they’d try to find him.
“Shouldn’t we all discuss what you’ll say to whomever answers the phone?” asked the tall Richard, a logical man who had the word Consultant on his calling card.
He believed he could give advice in many categories. Well read, Richard lived with another Richard, his opposite except in name. Tall Richard was a formal person. He never just dropped in, even to ask the super a question about water pressure. Richard always called first. Born in Boston, he believed in Roberts Rules of Order. Richard two, from a small town in South Carolina, came to New York City after college to work in theater. As a boy he just knew that theater would be what he would do all his life. He’d seen a dinner theater production of “Oklahoma” and that had been enough, really enough, to shape his path. He hummed along with the words, knowing how happy humming made him. And hum he did, working in any job theater job he could find until finally, he become a stage manager. There was nothing he liked more than working.
“Play it by ear, why don’t we,” exclaimed Pin Ball, an odd voice of reason in Anibal’s appealingly unexpected apartment. Orange walls, bright blue trim. No white walls for Anibal.
“I’m ready to call,” said Eve. “My mother’s brother lives in Jerusalem. Wouldn’t it be an odd turn of events if he knew Alyosha? We could ask my Uncle Aryeh. Jerusalem is actually a small city,” she said. “Only about 800,000 people altogether.”
“Is there a reason you don’t just call?” Naomi was impatient with Eve. They were each dressed in shiny silver clothing, their own matched set.
And then, there they all were. Standing around the phone in a loose half-circle, an informal group of people who, because someone disappeared, had formed their own odd community, people who, except for their street address, didn’t have all that much in common.
“We’ve waited long enough,” Mrs. Israel said. “I wrote out some questions while we were standing here, in case you find yourself tongue tied,” she said.
“I have never been tongue tied,” Eve replied.
“I beg to differ,” Charles spoke up. “Would you like some examples? They’re on the tip of my particular tongue.” He laughed at his own joke.
“Later,” Eve answered. And then, at last, she picked up the phone, and dialed. No one spoke in the room. They stood at a weird kind of attention. Waiting.
Anibal put the ringing on speakerphone, so everyone could hear.
A woman answered the phone. “Shalom,” she said.
“Shalom,” Emily replied. “Ayfo Alyosha? Where is Alyosha?,“ she asked, in Hebrew first, and then in English. And then, “Do you speak English?”
“Yes, of course,” the woman answered, with no accent that anyone could hear. “I am American,” she added. “Just like you. That is, I assume you’re American from what little you said.”
“I am,” said Emily, trying not to sound disappointed.
“I have no idea where Alyosha is,” the woman offered. “I haven’t seen him in over a year. He’s my cousin,” she added. “We are close, but not in touch. Isn’t he in New York? He called a while ago to say he got an apartment, and he asked if he could give me for a reference. I have a job,” she said, and laughed. “Many of our family members are dutifully unemployed.”
“I’m happy for you, said Emily, and hung up the phone abruptly.