Previously: Alyosha Zim disappeared. One day he just didn’t return to his studio apartment on the Upper West Side. It was the 80’s in New York. People didn’t say the words Real Estate all that often. Some residents of a tenement nearby decided, for who knows what reason, that they’d try to find him. To discover where he went.
Two roommates, Eve and Naomi, took the lead at first. But others joined in.
After Albert ‘s surprising declaration to the group, that he and Alyosha had been sporadic lovers, lovers perhaps being too large a word for what happened between them, the room became a sea of questions. They were all standing in the super Anibal’s apartment, trying to figure out next steps.
Mrs. Israel, older than all the rest, the building’s oldest tenant, not all that old herself but still, she wore navy in a time when orange and purple were the norm, a woman who actually referred to herself as Mrs. Israel rather than Doris, organized, prim, she spoke first.
“I had a lover once,” she said.
This sentence, had it been uttered by any of the rest of them, would have been far less surprising. Mrs. Israel, eternally neat, organized, a person of lists, was not the type to confess. Even as she spoke to the room, she held onto her clipboard, poised for notation. “Not that it’s relevant to finding Alyosha,” she added.
“Later,” said the taller Richard. “Why don’t you tell us the story later. I feel we are on a deadline of sorts. The longer it takes us to figure out how to find him, the harder it will be.”
“What makes you think that?” said Charles. “Sometimes cases go unresolved for years. And then, a clue surfaces. Often out of nowhere.”
“Or somewhere,” said Pin Ball. “A surprising clue.”
Naomi spoke directly to Mrs. Israel. “Of course I’d like to hear your story,” she said. “If you still want to tell it tomorrow, we can make an appointment before we leave. Now though,” she added, “let’s find Alyosha.”
“I move we adjourn to the Three Brothers coffee shop on the corner,” said Charles. “I’d like some coffee.”
“Seconded,” yelled the second Richard.
Anibal declined to join them.
By the time they were seated, at the long table in the back at Three Brothers, they were silent, every one of them. Absolutely silent. Until Eve finally spoke.
“I knew a diviner once,” she said. “She’d point her stick in a variety of directions, to find water. Somehow I think that’s the technique we should use here. Point somewhere, and see what happens.”
“I suppose I’m the only one who knew him,” Albert declared. “So I’ll be the one who points. But my pointing,” he added, “will be metaphoric. We can interpret the pointing after it’s done.”
He stood up in the diner. Then he lifted up his fork to the ceiling, unfortunate corrugated tiling, and he closed his eyes and started to hum. He hummed loudly.
No one else said a word. The fork moved wildly As though it were a puck on a Ouijii Board.
Albert’s arm flailed, as though it wasn’t connected, not at all, to the rest of his body.
“That’s just like divining,” said Eve. “I’ve seen it once or twice. It’s amazing.”
“He’s in New York somewhere!!!” Albert was excited. “I’m sure,” he said.
Tall Richard, a skeptic, said, “you can’t believe the fork knows anything.”
“I do,” said Albert.
“Let’s take a vote,” said Mrs. Israel. “I’ll record our results.”
Everyone but Richard believed in Albert’s fork.
Esther Cohen posts a poem a day on esthercohen.com