One day in our building Eve got into the elevator with a man who was visiting a friend on another floor. This man called himself Charles. He was not Chuck. Chas either.
Charles was going to see someone he’d known in his childhood in Brooklyn, a high school friend named Larry. There were so many Larrys once. I don’t think I’ve seen a Larry baby ever.
Charles said to Eve, “What floor are you going to?” and Eve told him six.
Charles replied that he would like to come visit. How about now? he asked, more gentle than insistent. But still.
His friend Larry was a magician, and every week on Friday he’d join a table of other magicians, in a room in a midtown restaurant. They’d all eat pastrami sandwiches and do their tricks. Larry told me that once a man pulled a rabbit out of a hat and then they all ate it. Larry earned his living as a sound person at NBC. He was a huge man, really huge. Elevator big. Larry could bring a friend to be part of the round table audience and that’s why Charles dropped by.
He was tiny, fastidious. Even his head seemed neatly positioned on his neck, and his neck actually seemed centered between his shoulders. His face was careful, controlled, and so were his hands. The day Eve saw him first, he was dressed in a neat black overcoat, even in the 80s when the rest of the world wore jackets. His coats did not give anyone the sense that he was entirely unemployed.
About Eve, she was a person who was visually always amazing. Besides her face, her strong, memorable, very beautiful face, she wore red velvet dresses and painted gold shoes. The 80s was an unfettered time, and although the world was as difficult as always, we were young. We were free. We were living in New York City where god knows anything at all could happen.
Charles told Eve all about Larry, the first time he sat in our apartment.
He invited her to accompany him.
“Do you like magic?” he asked, knowing her answer.
Of course she said yes.
Funny what we remember, and what we don’t.
What I remember about that day, seeing Charles and Eve sitting on our deep velvet couch, our couch with incidental springs, was that they looked as though they belonged together. Who even knows what that means.
She called me in to join them. I was in our One Other Room, probably reading a novel. Reading a novel has always been my default position. There are always two or three or four right next to my bed.
I knew they were in the living room. I’d heard them come in.
“Naomi,” yelled Eve. She didn’t have to yell. Of course I was curious.
“We are roommates,” was the first thing I said.
“Obvious,” he replied. And then he half-laughed.
“I’ll tell you about myself, so you don’t have to ask,” he began.
And we were rapt, sitting in our bright yellow room, hearing this odd stranger telling us a thing or two about himself.
“I am my mother’s only child,” was the way he began.
This is the fourth installment of our first-ever serialized novel. For past chapters, check out our web site. For more on the writer, including a poem a day, go to www.esthercohen.com