PREVIOUSLY: A man named Alyosha disappeared. He lived in a small five story building. A friend told a friend that he was gone.
Maybe her whole building could help, Naomi thought. Not just Eve and Charles. Or Mrs. Israel. Maybe the whole building would work together in their desire to actually find Alyosha. Or whatever his name was. But how could she interest them? They could call themselves EVE and Others. Solving a crime might tie them together.
Naomi went next door to ask Mrs. Israel what she thought, knocking only once before Mrs. Israel answered, dressed in navy blue, as though a government official or a lawyer were arriving momentarily. Something so odd about navy blue.
“Why hello,” she said. And then she asked, “Yes?” waiting for Naomi’s request.
She did not say Come Right In, standing by the door officially. “I was just wondering,” said Naomi, “if you’d be interested in helping to solve a crime.”
Mrs. Israel looked confused. “Do you have anything in writing?” she replied. “I like to see all requests in writing.”
“Do you prefer them typed, or handwritten?” Naomi asked.
“I’ve never had that question asked before,” she said, “though considering it now, I’d say hand written. Come back when there’s a document,” she said.
It took her a whole day to write a sign, an invitation to the building. Following the preference, she wrote it out by hand. She’d make copies for under each door, and taped one by the elevator.
LET’S ALL SOLVE A CRIME
How many buildings actually get the chance to solve a crime? A man in our neighborhood has disappeared. All we know about him so far is that he’s 32, a jack of many trades. Like some of us, he knew how to juggle. For anyone who’s interested, we are hosting a potluck dinner (macaroni and cheese! Greek salad! Pepperidge Farm cookies! Cheap wine!) on Thursday night at 7 to discuss this possibility. Leave a note under Apartment 55 if you are interested. Or leave us a message at 212 555-2323 . And tell us what you are bringing. There can’t ever be too much mac and cheese.)
Charles and Eve, sitting on the couch as usual, agreed to listen to an oral recitation of the request. They were practicing Act I Scene One of The View from the Bridge. Eve was reading the play in class. Charles considered himself a rigorous critic of all things.
“A fair enough note” he said. “Not outstanding. You could use some adjectives.”
“Oh Charles,” Eve said, proud of his peculiar rigor.
“O.K.” said Naomi. “What do I have to do to get the most number of people to attend?”
“Delicious,” before pot luck would help,” he said. “And you need an illustration. We can’t do an accurate portrait. We’re not there yet,” he said. “When we’re through here, I’ll draw an evocative shadow portrait. Most people,” he said, “want a picture alongside their words.”
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