|| "(Don't look, you hothead; chill.)"
This hissed rebuke suspends the
Franchone, nursing a cappuccino, feigns
that he has not heard; in fact has been trying to nudge
The Scarecrow's Daughter beyond its introduction... to no
avail, the nearby threesome too distracting with their
disagreeable bickering. He had eavesdropped incidentally,
then with mounting curiosity which had peaked upon the
mention of Zahra's name.
Begins with Z. A "snooty alien"? That
sure fits. Are these her roommates? 'Former' roommates;
"Zahra's" "cooped up" someplace else. With "Duke." Who's
Duke? And why would he be "antsy" about his "studio". Studio
apartment? Business studio? Studio recording space? "Not one
window." Studio recording space, then. Not shacked
up; she's been "hole up". On the lam? Evading Almond, no
doubt. Figures. Hell, she could have stayed at my place.
"Starved for company" versus "girlfriend maybe comes
and spends the night"? So Z is gay, or bi and getting it on
with this gray-haired babe? Unlikely. Guy beside her seems
to think so. Looks like a Goth in all that black. Ms. Gray-hair
's punctured—has so many studs
she must set off alarms. Some pair. The tan
girl's refereeing; she seems normal—not as radical—but the
trio could be comic-book-figure anarchists. That, or punks.
Odd crew for Z to have as allies.
Franchone braves a covert glance... at
Amy's profile, clearly visible as she likewise peeks
at him—whose surreptitious interest is making her
Let's move back. Sign reads NO
outdoors, for Christ's sake!
The threesome shifts to another table—out
of earshot, less conspicuous—a cloud of blue exhaust
left hovering in their wake.