Previously: When Alyosha Zim, a handsome mustachioed gay man who could tango, disappeared from his Upper West Side apartment, a nearby building of tenants took it on themselves to try to find him.
Eve, Naomi, Charles, and Mrs. Israel were awkwardly standing at 120 West 82nd Street in the 20th Precinct. Eve, the only one of them who read mystery novels, had taken it upon herself to make an appointment with a police detective. Gould, her friend from the Avocado Tree on the ground floor of her building, suggested a detective who could help them move forward. Gould himself was a former Black Panther from LA. He did not like police very much. Still, he’d met a likable detective, another former Panther named Bruce, at The Dublin House, an old dive bar on 79th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam. Bruce and Gould became instant friends, and Gould actually trusted him. That was a saying a lot because Gould, whose central character trait was paranoia, told Eve that Bruce was in the good column. Eve never remembered Gould saying that about anyone ever before.
Although it was 10 o’clock in the morning on a bright July day, the precinct was one of those characterless boxy places, eerily lit. They sat in a big windowless room painted faded prison green. All the fluorescent lights were on, creating an undertone of a continual unpleasant buzz. The woman at reception looked as unhappy as anyone could be, but she did call Detective Bruce, whose last name was Mohammed.
“Should I read him the list of our prepared questions?” Mrs. Israel asked. Always prepared, the Girl Scout among them, she was dressed in policeman blue, a neat suit with a crisp white shirt. July didn’t make much of a wardrobe impression on her.
“Let’s play it by ear,” Naomi said. She was in her usual silver: silver dress, silver boots, silver polish on her nails. She looked like she should burst into song, although she couldn’t actually do that, ever. “Let’s see what he’s like first,” she cautioned.
Bruce Mohammed, big imposing man, made a careful entrance, onto center stage, which happened to be his ugly district office. He looked, at first glance anyway, as though there was nothing he could not do. Solid, handsome, he had the ageless quality some men have. Looking them over with a certain amount of disdain, he said, with authority, “Let’s find him.”
“Who?” said Charles, thrown off at first.
“Who do you think?” Bruce Mohammed replied. “I heard the whole story last night,” he said “It isn’t much of a story either. We’re used to a little more drama around here. Maybe Alyosha’s running from you people, now that he knows you’re all on his tail.”
“How would he know that?” Mrs. Israel asked.
“That can be one of the questions we ask when we find him,” Bruce Mohammed said. “So here’s what we’re going to do. Tell me everything you know about him. I’ve located a picture by the way. Here he is,” he said, and brought out a Xerox of a handsome young man, a man who looked surprisingly familiar.
“I swear I’ve seen him,” Naomi said. “I actually think he’s a customer in the Avocado Tree.”
“Well, I guarantee that, even if you haven’t yet, you will,” Bruce replied.
“What makes you so sure you’ll find him?” Mrs. Israel asked.
“I’m a detective,” he said. “What do you think that means?”
Esther Cohen writes a poem a day at esthercohen.com.