Of all the lamebrain acts I've let my sex-crazed self commit, this one wins the prize for boner-bred stupidity; amen. DUNCE! I mean a manikin? I mistook a goddamn dummy for the real McCoy? And it has landed me in this Limbo of soundproofed isolation. Walls are thick. That door is airtight. Nothing to work with. Hoodwinked. Trapped. All the more pathetic in that I'M HERE BY MISTAKE!
The captive rails. A practical joke—his first impression—this detention cell is not; no pointing fingers, stifled laughter, or gotcha-style guffaws, as he expected, broke the comprehensive silence post incarceration. Duped, entombed, Franchone has been left to mull the import of his 'misappropriation'—as it dawns on him that the 'booby' to be trapped is still at large, whereas whoever hoped to catch him remains unaware.
I should have sensed it, should have noticed, at the very least, this decoy—with its tape-recorded message, no less—never so much as flinched, or gasped, or moved a single muscle when the rush of air behind me made it clear that I'd been bushwhacked, lured like a lovesick, sucker-punched swain, and left to grouse about my fate with this paraplegic puppet...
...that even from the back...
...wouldn't fool a moron...
The mouth remains immobile, eyes unblinking, nose inert; ears, likewise, stay deaf below under a nylon wig and kerchief that accentuate the effigy's utter impassivity.
Removed to where, I wonder? Stalked still by that nutcase 'Almond'...
He paces back and forth; the dummy sits oblivious, stiff, defunct, inured to Franchone's fits of self-recrimination.
He frisks his pockets for a pen.
He fidgets with the tape deck, pressing buttons; Zahra's voice intones:
"Put the groceries on the counter, will you?"
"Click"; the tape rewinds; a light turns briefly red then reverts to green.
He spots the luggage Zahra stashed in one of the studio's dim lit corners.
He leaves his seat, and proceeds to rummage through the bags without a qualm.
A paperback book comes tumbling out from the folds of a lamb's wool sweater—an envelope lodged between pages 408 and 409.
Franchone opens Homa's letter.