"Whereof do they question one another?"
LONG TIME NO SEE
For sure these folks don't plan on
letting what-his-name, Almond, rot. It's obvious I'm
his fall guy. Inadvertent. Lucky me. This cage was
meant for him, I've figured out; keen deduction—duh—no
I'm like you, Joy, just a stand-in, just a dresser-dummy
dupe, while our originals—unbeknownst to one
another—roam at large.
Franchone has refrained from doing damage to his
cell, beyond a heel dent in the corkboard-padded door.
Nor has he fashioned tools from the rudimentary furniture; a table
and pair of chairs remain in place, moreover intact—sharing
claustrophobic space with the stationary manikin.
Sooner or later someone has to
notice they have goofed... before we starve
to death. You hungry, Joy?
He eyes the painted-on mouth, then once more
lends it voice.
Pinkney to the rescue, eh? Sir
Galahad, you are not. Our damsel-in-distress is more at
risk than ever—while you sit passively by on your
I tried. I failed.
You tried to what; give aid and
comfort or exploit the woman's woes? I'd say you failed
because your dick dictates your misbehavior.
Fine; so shoot me. I deserve to die
for falling short of dear ol' dad's ideals? I'm not a
perfect human being; I make mistakes; I show poor
judgment; I use women as means to my personal ends;
I'm a faithless, no account fool who can't complete his
education for want of discipline, keep a sweetheart,
hold a job, or write a novel (not to mention a
dissertation), plus I'm inexplicably smitten by some
renegade, sloe-eyed Turk disposed to brushing me off
like lint whenever I'm in proximity. Maybe I'll
Then add insane to your list of
attributes. You think Rahnavard needs a spouse? She,
first and foremost, needs a friend—which rules out
Don Juan Pinkney.
Stymied by his alter-ego's withering
self-assessment, Franchone sulks in the studio, rests his
head in his hands and slumps, only to sit bolt upright as a
rush of air invades; a crack of light expands then floods
the soundproof chamber; infiltrated; breached; Zahra, framed
in the threshold like a halo-fringed Madonna, adrenalin
pumped through veins no less provoked than his
set free, confirms that he who sprang the trap in Ahmed's
stead (no doubt unwittingly) is the very man whose presence spurs her
impulse to retreat...
...offset by an equal impulse...