95
 

"You have a visitor, Mr. Falk; a young lady."

Stuy-Rem, once removed, barely hears Nurse Somerset’s upbeat voice, his own more entertaining, the world within his mind increasing its distance from the world inside his (periwinkle blue) room (to his bipartite perception), the monologue cum dialogue echoing in his head providing him with self-sufficient company.

 

Visitor?

Who needs visitors?

No one comes to see us

save our lawyer—

after Doctor Grant

debriefs him.

Or what’s-his-name—

disowned and

thus anonymous.

Send whomever away.

We’re feeling

inhospitable.

 

Used to getting no response, Nurse Somerset perseveres.

"A Miss Wolffmüller. Miss Nana Wolffmüller."

Drawn from inattention like a mollusk from its shell, Stuy-Rem lifts his head, cocks it at an angle that betokens full awareness, grimaces once, and then patronizingly grins.

"Well, well, well; send her in! We’re receiving. Particularly phantoms from our academic past—we share an alma mater. Mustn’t keep her waiting. She’s Eurasian, is she not?"

"She has an accent. I don’t think German, despite the name, but she does look Oriental."

"Could be our girl. Wait. How do we look?"

Stuy-Rem tries to rearrange his hair by raking fingers through the matted, unattended locks. He appeals to the Nurse.

"Would a comb do any good? Do we stink? Should we get a quick shave? No? Hopeless?"

Taken aback by this atypical concern about his appearance, the Nurse does what she can to make her patient presentable by sponging his sallow face, brushing his unkempt hair, straightening his crumpled smock, then puffing up the pillows to support his slouching posture.

"There. A fashion plate you’re not, but she won’t turn tail and shriek. Unless you misbehave."

"Warn her we’ve been ill—nothing catchy—to minimize the shock. Say we look like hell but haven't yet checked in."

The Nurse departs. Soon after, Nana Wolffmüller makes her cautious entrance.

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