PREVIOUSLY: 1980s Manhattan. It seemed as if many of us were young. Old people sat on benches. The world seemed objectively different. Eve and Naomi are roommates. Their clothes are thrift store evocative. Eve has a for-now boyfriend named Charles. Naomi spends some time with her gay friend who pronounces his name Al Bear. It’s Albert, really. His across the hall neighbor, Alyosha, has disappeared. Vanished really.
The story Albert told Naomi, although it was full of his favorite words (fantastic! horrific!) about Alyosha disappearing was sufficiently vague for her to conclude that Anything Could Have Happened. Alyosha, said Albert, was a tap dancer from somewhere Albert could never remember. Eastern Europe-ish. Maybe even Georgia or Uzbekistan or Azerbaijan. Alyosha might even have been Armenian. What was his last name? Of course he was handsome, Albert said, in a too tight dark pants way. More flamenco than tap. He even had a moustache, full and black. Like quotation marks around his lips.
Albert himself loved pants. He had more pairs than he could count, and did not discard them to oblivion. Did not give them to Goodwill or Salvation Army. In one corner of his apartment (his ceilings were very high) he actually had a pants cemetery – pairs he had no intention of discarding forever. They went from the floor nearly to the ceiling. He’d even had to start a second pile. “There are some,” he’d said once, “who let go. And some hold on. I’m one of those who loves forever. Especially pants,” he said, and smiled. “I just want them with me.” Once Naomi went through the piles with him, and he told her stories about every pair.
“When did you know that Alyosha was missing?” she asked.
“Our super knows everything,” he said. “Quite handsome by the way. Half Dominican half Haitian. Anibal. Hannibal in Spanish. Married though. Maybe he’s unhappy.”
“When did the super tell you?”
“He’s always in front. One day two weeks ago he said that Alyosha’s mother had called him. I wonder if he saved her number. She said she couldn’t reach her son. Anibal went upstairs to check and he was gone. Just gone. A cold cup of coffee was sitting on his table. As though he’d be right back. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t leave a cold cup of coffee on my grandmother’s formica kitchen table. Don’t you love that table? Not something you’d find at Pottery Barn.”
“I do,” I said. “Can you find out his mother’s name and number? That might be what we do next.”
“We?” he asked.
“Yes we,” she replied.