48
 

Troublemakers at the Palace proved short-lived phenomena. Though no one lodged a protest or reported a misconduct—

none so much as ventured a rebuke; looks askance and silent shunning spoke for those who witnessed how “the trio” had insulted a well-liked colleague (Nana, mutely mortified, spurning retaliation)

—Xia Xia, Trin, and Po have disappeared.

Not the first to come and go sans fond farewell or fanfare, these three, nonetheless, set an all-time record for brevity, lasting less than a fortnight before into-thin-air vanishing sight-unseen. True they might have been reassigned to the household’s huge support staff. Cooks and launderers, guards and groundskeepers, maintenance crews, valets worked round the clock behind the scenes to ensure that life flowed 'leisurely' (labor of the disadvantaged-many forever fortifying luxury of the privileged-few), but useful skills seemed lacking among the impolite triumvirate. Likelier they were reprimanded, fined perhaps, then discharged. Surely each had forfeited part or all of her million Swiss francs. Questions about the details, however, reaped inconclusive answers; cloaked by a shroud of secrecy, their departure went unexplained.

Back at her two-headed sculpture, Nana realigns the look-alike busts, presses on chunks of oil clay, tears off the ears, undercuts the cheekbones, exaggerates the jowls, aging him whose actual appearance remains enigmatic (since Dad O’Rourke’s last update—infused with  idioms—offered scant assistance).

SRYME@JEANNECLAUDE.ET.NET

#3

ESTER HARRIET BLUMENTHAL, MOTHER OF JULIANA (BLUMENTHAL) FINK, HAD LITTLE GOOD TO SAY ABOUT HER ERSTWHILE SON-IN-LAW STUYVESANT (WHEREABOUTS STILL UNKNOWN, BUT THE TRAIL BEARS FRESHER DROPPINGS). ACCORDING TO MRS. BLUMENTHAL SENIOR, THE MISMATCHED COUPLE ELOPED "AFTER THAT FLAP AT MIT," "GOT HITCHED" IN LAS VEGAS, HAVING LEGALLY CHANGED THEIR SURNAMES TO "I REALLY DON’T RECALL," AND PROCEEDED TO SAN FRANCISCO WHERE THEY SET UP "A MAIL-ORDER SOMETHING-OR-OTHER"—BANKROLLED BY THE NOT-YET-DISINHERITED JULIANA. TWO YEARS LATER, BIG TO BURSTING WITH CHILD (TWINS, AS IT TURNED OUT), DERELICT DAUGHTER PETITIONS WEALTHY PARENTS FOR TIDE-US-OVER FUNDS. BAILOUT DENIED—UNTIL SHE SUES FOR DIVORCE FROM "THAT GOOD-FOR-NOTHING SPONGER." THREE MONTHS AFTER THAT, DIVORCE PAPERS SIGNED AND SEALED, JULIANA "WHAT’S-‘ER-NAME" IS BACK TO BEING A BLUMENTHAL—PLUS ONE; STUYVESANT MAKING OFF WITH HALF OF THE COUPLE’S PROGENY. SINCE THEN, MOTHER AND SON, FROM FATHER AND SON, HAVE ALLEGEDLY NEVER HEARD.

NEEDLESS TO SAY, I AM BOUND FOR BAGHDAD BY THE BAY.

D. O'ROURKE

  

The nostrils are not right, she feels; Fink must be Caucasian... of average height... a slim physique... his auk-like face defined by an outsize nose—great ‘rudder of the phiz’ by which his Aryan sneer is guided... for Stuyvesant, Nana intuits, is superior in how he regards himself, as well as in the eyes of those he intimidates... people who are bright, she observes, often seeming conceited... incurring arch disfavor among those with wits less sharp.

Reaming with her pinkie, she elongates left then right, smoothing either wing to restore nose-one’s integrity, the process then repeated, nose-two made to look alike... yet not the same. Father of twins? Identical or fraternal? O’Rourke failed to mention. Yet Fink himself was a twin, at least in mind if unconfirmed in body. Curious misapprehension for an alleged man of science. Why invent a sibling? Loneliness? Discontentment? The quirk of an only child? Or could it be a need to objectify alter-ego? The man within the woman, in Nana’s case. In Stuyvesant’s case, the saint within the sadist, good-Samaritan cat surgeon versus stem-cell-thieving post grad? Too literal. Too simplistic. Something else was involved. Something that compels her hand to render febrile linkage, bridge the gap between respective skulls maintained and sustained by tensions poised in opposite directions; bonds of varied girth stretch tautly; wavelength-sharing neurons interlock selves at war.

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