Of Growing Hair out and The Letter
November came and went. With December came the snows.
White and violent, they tore away the roads and the pavements. That done, they whisked out the cars and the post boxes. Every day was a trial for the poor people who had to go to work and collect their mail. I stood watching those people from my window, sipping at my coffee. The traffic lights remained though, and sometimes the parrot came to visit – though I did not see him as often as I had.
Every day was spent doing the same thing. First, a round of exercise. I had begun drinking protein shakes, so I'd usually chug one of those down before going for a swim. My swimming were slowly, but steadily improving. As I hit the water, I was more quickly able to shut the world out and solely focus on the swimming. Yard after yard, lap after lap, I would focus only on my own body. Each distinct part was now under my command. As I kicked with my legs, my torso toppled from side to side. In complete unison with my shoulders, my arms went up and down – thumbs first. I was working on decreasing the amount of energy I used, so I used smooth and controlled movements throughout – Trying to make the least amount of splash possible.
My hair had grown a lot, not a whole lot, but I was getting there. If I did not tie it back in a small man-bun, it would get all over my face. The wind would take it as I walked, and as I read gravity brought it downwards. Alexander lauded my hair, probably hoping I would opt for a cut like his. Finished training, I would stand in front of the mirror, checking how much it had grown. I did not know this of course - but ever since Alexander had been at my apartment – the mysterious creatures had not come even once.
The more time spent with Alexander, the less was spent on Naome. She was almost absent from my mind now, not that I did not think of her. In a way, I had come to grips with what had happened; Not that I did not want to see her, nor that she was entirely absent from my thoughts – No, it was more like I had come to some sort of understanding with myself. She is gone, does not want to come back and therefore time spent thinking about her was futile. It would only drag me down.
After a long walk along the icy streets, wind tugging at my hair, that smooth door door that lead into the warm library felt even more inviting. Every thing at the library seemed more wonderful each day. Alexander's smile more fiery; The feel of the books more comforting; The silence more deep.
In my bag today, I had another bottle post. Just like the previous one, three rapid knocks on my door had sent me flying from the couch.
This time I had answered almost immediately. My apartment was small and there was a straight line down the hallway as long as I got out of the couch. But I had not been able to get a glimpse of the sender; As I opened the door and peered out all I found was the bottle post, letter within. There was no man scurrying past the corner. No one hid underneath the staircase (I checked) and I had not seen anyone enter or leave the building from my window. It could be someone in my complex, but I could not think of anyone who would have either motive to do so or disappear so quickly.
Me and Alexander had a pretty deep conversation about the previous letter the day after he read it. Though come to think of it, I was doing most of the talking. It was not like he did not say a thing, he often interjected with a “Hmm” or “That's Interesting” and sometimes quoted a part of the letter itself. But come to think of it, he was not as eager as he usually is. He never argued over a point, or tried making connections. The more I reflected on this, the more weird it became.
It was almost like he was deliberately passive. Like he had some connection with the letter, or was more aware of what it said than he was letting on. It could not have been him however, he had been genuinely intrigued when I showed him the letter. Even though I had only know Alexander for a few months, this was something I could be absolutely certain about.
Like always, the library was as silent as a school in summer. Alexander was not at the reception, legs on desk and struggling with a musty old tome of Heraldic Poems or whatnot, so I had to go looking. Two storeys later, on the third floor. I found him on the computer.
“Hey check this out!”
No smile or warmth greeted me today. Staring blankly into the screen, Alexander was obviously onto something big. He wore red trainers, a khaki chinos – just the right size – and a blue collared sweater. He winked me over aggressively, face locked to the screen, so I dragged a chair across the room and sat down next to him.
“So, what is it? Not like you to be on the computer – you hate those things”
“Got me there. This day and age though, there are somethings you need a computer to find”
He pointed at the screen, raised his black eyebrows and hinted subtly with his eyes that I should take a look.
The screen said:
“No results could be found for your search – Did you mean Violin Lindner”.
“What is this supposed to be? Thinking about picking up the Violin at such a late age?”
“Haha, no. I tried searching for the person who sent you that letter - Vegard Lindtner.
As you see though, he doesn't seem to exist. There is no record of him”
“Let me try, I know my way about computers. Used to work at a computer company remember, before I became a teacher.
“Oh, I can't recall you ever telling me that, what kind of company?
“Every, my father was the regional manager. When we were kids, he had just started up the business and so he would work all day and sleep away the nights – no time for us”
“No, Every was the name. A company specialising in providing security service for big companies. They had a lot of important oil and gas providers in their pockets.”
I tried changing the search criteria, and also a page my dad had shown me where you could find out anything about anyone with a birth certificate. It gave no results. Disappointed, I brushed my brow and reminisced loudly about a childhood memory.
“Whenever he'd been out on business, he would come with a computer game or a present of sorts.
I guess it was his way of saying: I'm sorry for not really being there. Nonetheless, it made me really happy. When we were six, he bough a playstation with Jurassic park – me and my brother played it to bits, it was so much fun. When we were ten he bought Tarzan, you know the platformer?
“No, I don't”
“Oh, well that was an amazing game, we struggled for almost a week with the final boss. I always loved the games he brought. Because for one I couldn't afford any games by myself but also because those games had his stamp. A stamp of approval almost, like a movie with oscar nominations on the covers. Therefore, the games he bought were never dull, and they also reminded us that he was there“
“Dammit” Nothing I tried gave any results. Vegard Lindtner, even though he had to exist, was completely and utterly “off the grid”. I leaned back and sighed in aspiration - Alexander copied me. I considered going down for a new book to read when it came to me, the second letter. I opened my bag and took out the glass flask. Alexander almost jumped of his chair as he saw it.
“There came another?!”
Yup, just like before – three knocks and a bottle post. I could not get a glimpse of the sender, but I'm thinking about setting up a camera in the hallway so that if he comes by again I will have him on tape”
“Good idea, have you read it?”
“ No, I thought we should do it together, since we did that last time. In a strange way, it feels like the two of us are together on some sort of adventure. Only we know about this so it almost like an adventure only for the two of us”
Sure Alexander's stare might soon break the glass, I removed the cork and snuck my finger into the container looking behind me in case some masked agent was spying on us from behind the bookshelves. “Careful! Don't hurt the document”, Alexander lamented. “No worries, its not like I'm planning to do so or anything, I'm just going to slide it out with my finger”
Visibly nervous, Alexander voted we should break the bottle instead. No harm done if the bottle breaks, it is the letter that matters, he arguments. I myself was not ready for a discussion on the topic, nor did I especially care, so I handed him the bottle. “Just a minute”, said Alexander before scurrying off.
A while later, he returned with the paper alone. Apparently, he had gone through some effort to break it open. Not wanting glass all over the floor he had gone outside to do the deed. Wrapping the entire thing in a towel he had behind the reception – sometimes he would shower at the library; The “Employee section” had a bathroom, resting room complete with a TV and Sofa and a make-do kitchen sporting a water-heater, an oven and a refrigerator. In reality though, it was “Alexander's Section – he smashed the flask with the heel of his foot and threw the towel and glass in the dumpster outside.
Exhausted after the climb, Alexander bid me read it this time. I rolled the paper open, it was old and crusty beneath my fingers, apparently of some age.
The title said: “Laos 1970 – The field of Jars”
Of City Planning, A Date and Bus Stops
Heels clicking away, she made her way across the paved bridge with sure steps. Though almost eight, the bridge leading to Castel D'Sant Angelo was choke full of tourist and the occasional backpacker – looking to get a snap of the infamous castle, so beautiful at night. The round exterior, designed to resist shots by cannon balls, was lit up by a dozen light-throwers. Perched on top of the wedding cake like structure, stood Saint Angelo – sword thrust up to the heavens. Going against the merciless stream of tourist she had neither time nor resources to look back on the mesmerising architecture; She was on a mission and she was almost done.
Turning right after the bridge, she followed the Tiber for quite some time casting occasional glances behind her. She had not been followed. “Calm Down, no one suspects a thing. You did your part and you did it clean, quickly and without hesitation”, she told herself as she veered right into the thicket of buildings in the Campo Marzio. Brown buildings, neoclassical in design, scurried past as her heels briskly clicked at the tiles. Wandering in the back alleys, she would meet only the occasional tourist – lost in translation – or a native, who mostly did not give a fuck. No one looked her way. To everybody else she was just a black haired woman, parading the streets of Rome in search of something to eat – or more.
She arrived at Piazza del Popolo faster than anticipated. In front of her stood the obelisk, stolen from Africa, but now such a firm Roman symbol of prosperity. Behind that, loomed the two domed churches of Santa Maria del Poppolo flanked by the pathway leading to the beautiful Villa Borghese. She had not time to enjoy the view however. Traversing the piazza diagonally, she found a nice restaurant where she reclined right next to a fan. Even though autumn was fast approaching, Rome felt stifling, especially on this August eve.
A waiter came about with a menu, she declined but said she would have two old fashioned. The waiter, an Italian man in his early twenties with curly black hair down over his eyes, scurried away in his white suit – his towel wailing away the sweet.
As she waited, she thought back. She heard no police sirens and she was so far off by now that they would never find her. It was only a question of time however, when they would smash open the door. Finding the bottle of expensive champagne, her untouched dinner and his body. Sprawling soundlessly, they would find him underneath the red sheets - mouth agape.
Almost finished with her second Old fashioned, she saw him approaching. Wearing a black suit, white shirt and a red tie, the man walked straight across the plaza to her. Before sitting down, he produced a comb, licked it, and combed his hair back and dusted of his spotless suit. A perfect Italian gentleman, he had that smirk and womanising tone so common in this part of the world.
“Buena Noche! Bella Donna...so it is done.”
“Yes, it is”
The man satisfied with the answer, they sat waiting for some time.
She felt awkward in this mans company, so she hid her shaking hands under the table and straightened her back. The waiter came back, perspiration dripping from his forehead. The man ordered some obscure brand of red-wine, before looking at her. Not to be rude, she ordered another old fashioned – though she had had more than enough. As the waiter hurried of in search of the red wine, probably hidden somewhere on the other side of town, the Italian broke the silence.
“Beautiful at nigh eh, Piazza del Poppolo?”
“Yes, it really is”
“You know, this was the gateway to Roma before. The northernmost Piazza of Roma - The two arches you see there, which lead to the Villa Borghese, used to be the North gates into Roma. Where the broad Via Appia gave way to the narrow cobbled streets of the city”
“Oh, is that so, excuse me I'm not all that good at history”
“Ah” he waved away the reply and continued nonetheless.
“Everyone has use of history, even though they don't think they like it or are any good at it, no? It was not like you see it today though, this Piazza. You see, in the late renaissance people began thinking about what do to with cities – how to make them beautiful and prosperous, eh?
Back then cities were filled with tall building, narrow streets filled with shit and few parks. Naturally disease flourished and living standards where horrendous. The rich moved out of the cities into great manors and castles leaving the peasants here to rot. Now, about the time of the renaissance came a new fashion or technology called city planning. Ha, I know, revolutionary yes – who could have come up with such a wild idea!”
Seeing that she was not all that into his jokes, the Italian eased of a bit letting the information sink in. The kelner, now doused in sweat had managed to procure a red wine of the type he had requested and poured a sample into a tall wine glass. The man rolled the glass around, measuring the colour and thickness of the product and put his nose to it before nipping at the wine itself. Seemingly satisfied, he nicked to the waiter who filled it up.
“Now, city planning was a great idea. Big roads made traffic easier, merchants could more easily move their produce about the town and people too could get by easier. They created vistas too, like the Road leading to the Church of Saint Peter. Before you could only catch a glimpse of the dome, if you were on one of the hills in the city; After they had cleared all the buildings and made a straight, wide road leading to the Piazza in front of it you could see it from a mile away. The church become a more prominent feature of the city, a symbol of the Power of the Church and Rome. As you walked, you would think of this I'm sure”
“Yeah, I guess that is kind of interesting in a way”
Finished with her third old fashioned, she wanted to flee the scene. She had reported as promised, there was no reason to linger – but that conventional Italian had her in his grip with the story. To leave now would be rude, and this was not a man who accepted rudeness in any way.
“City planning created Vistas and roads and blah blah blah. Disease decreased, trade prospered and cities became again the wonders of civilisation – it is Piazza's though, I'm most fond of.
Look eh, Piazza del Poppolo. Gateway to Rome. When designed in the sixteenth century, it was designed to show both the power and tranquility of the city. Now tell me what do you see?
“Hem, an obelisk some lions and a couple of churches, nothing spectacular really?”
“Aha, Bella that is where you are wrong. It is what you don't see that's important. This place, true t has a great and powerful obelisk, some nice statues too, but what it has above all else – is space.
“Yes, Piazza's were designed not only to exhibit power, piety or some bullshit like that, but also to open up space. Space to think in, relax in, read in and breathe in. Space you see is the most overlooked aspect, I think, of our needs. The round shape too would evoke feelings of peace and tranquility, there is a simple beauty in the design. The whole thing is circumvented by the finest buildings the age had to offer – truly a marvel of civilisation.
Long story short, the Piazza's are a reflection of a tendency in society renaissance society in general. In the renaissance thinking, reflection and wonder was the key words and I think these are ale reflected in this Piazza. Here, poets could stroll, scientists quarrel and songwriters listen to the music of the streets. In a way, the people who planned it made it like this for a purpose. If there was no purpose her before, only tall crumbling buildings and shit along the streets, they assigned purpose to it by putting a piazza here”
“Like you assign purpose by putting a bus stop next to the road? So that the busses have to stop there”
“Haha, yes. Well done Bella, I did not think someone this beautiful could be this smart!
One last thing, before people lived in a single room which was their kitchen, living room, sleeping room and toilet – all at the same time. With city planning came house planning. So people got more rooms in their houses and designed each room for one purpose. One room would be used for eating, another for shitting – you see?”
“Marvellous, like this piazza people began assigning meaning and purpose to each room of their house. We do this to this day. Myself, I cannot shit in the kitchen nor read a book in the toilet – I have to be in my study for that. So what I'm trying to say is how weird it really is. A room is just a room and you could do whatever you wanted to in it. But, say a pair of plumbers installed a toilet next to your kitchen table – would you not find it a bit gross and of poor taste, like a dirty joke?”
“I suppose so”
“Haha, your bursting with enthusiasm. Of course I could go on about how this principle works even further like in you holiday home or at your house, but I will not. What I must say though, being some sort of city planner myself is that people attribute meaning to towns, places and properties. Some find it impossible to relax at home and have to study all the time, only in a park or some cabin of sort can they relax. Some may hate the feeling they have associated with Rome, but love the feeling they get when in Paris. Like we separate our worlds into zones, each with its own flavour and meaning. I'm done now, relax Bella!”
Finished with his glass, he poured another one. This one filled to the brim, something she was sure was not wine etiquette. He sighed noisily before gulping half of it down, she only gazed at the moon. An odd moon for sure, but what was wrong with it she could not tell. Here in Rome, the moon seemed somewhat bigger. Her hands was shaking and she seemed distant, like she was someplace else – someplace far off from here.
His voice again cut through the silence, like a scalpel searching through a wound.
“Now, what I need you to do since I am a very particular man is tell me in full detail what happened. This way I can be sure that everything is fine and that you can be on your way, tick you of my list in a way. Everything from start to finish, from cradle to grave. As a city planner who works on things one cannot see, unlike the piazza here I need birds and songs to tell me what to do, so what song shall you sing little bird?”
Calming one hand in the other, Naome gazed at the moon for a time, if not two. Then she sighed and brought her mind back to the very start of the event. Closing her eyes, she found the memory in perfect clarity and opened her mouth to speak. As memories rushed past her eyelids, so her tongue matched the pictures.
It had begun a week prior. After a strange phone call from the police, she had gone to the woman. The woman, had another assignment for her – this one in Italy. The day after, she was packed and boarded the plane to Fuimunchino airport.
There, she got the details. He was a young millionaire, late twenties, who recently had gotten into some trouble with a drug emporium. A german by birth - Viktor Heslow was his name - had white hair and dressed exclusively in navy blue Armani suits, alternating only between a red and a black tie. Most often he spent his days at a hidden gambling place, set up for people with enough illegal money to want to spend them in secret. The Italian sitting opposite her had gotten her in and pointed him out.
The next week had been spent in that place watching rich people waste and win each others money. A thing about such places is that due to the naturally limited clientele, the money only moved around in circles. Rich people stealing from themselves. Those who lost one day, would win them back the day after.
Situated in an old Baroque theatre, the gambling hall was lavishly decorated with white and gold panelling. In the ceiling hung a new chandelier, but beyond it – although the ceiling was flat – was the illusion of a dome – a late renaissance style of 3d-painting, but she could not remember what it was called. The depth of the ceiling in all its three dimensional glory, gave the impression that the chandelier simply hovered unsuspended in the air. Just like the moon.
On the floor people in black and white hurried past like umpa-lumpas. Sometimes she could not help but laugh at them as they wriggled their way through the throngs of bandits, smugglers and African princes – faces red with exhaustion.
Night after night she peered at Viktor, who cast occasional glances her way. As the day went, Viktors eyes picked up their pace, and looked more frequently upon the black-haired beauty in the red velvet dress. Last night he had dared to approach her.
Offering to buy her a drink, they sat down on a golden-leather sofa in the VIP section. She drank a mojito with too much ice for her taste, drops of water dancing on the exterior of the cool glass. He had a whiskey sour and some nuts taken over, but showed little interest in them. He had another drink in mind entirely.
Slowly, their conversation picked up. She laughed at his jokes (even though they were extremely bad), sometimes she touched his knee. He limped ever closer, eventually coming so close as to wrap his left arm around her.
Courtly declining his invitation to some celebrity pool party, she insisted instead on a dinner alone somewhere else, he could pick the place. Not about to deny a young woman – Viktor had the money, but not the looks to do so – he invited her to his place. A villa just beyond the Castel D'Sant Angelo with a nice view over the river. She accepted.
The day after, his bodyguard picked her up at her hotel. She had a small bag packed with makeup, some perfume and her instrument – a instrument she always carried with her. As they had to travel halfway across Rome, the driver put on a record to easen the mood. It might have been the case that he was not even allowed to talk to her. As piazzas, obelisks, churches and people rushed past her window, she followed the song of the tune. Vivaldi's Winter, a sad but violent instrumental. As the violins traveled across the strings, so her mind traveled to that place it always went before a job.
She imagined herself somewhere else, in a cave. In that cave her mind could wander freely and unobstructed. Leonardo Da Vinci had found his inspiration in a cave she remembered, though from where she could not tell. Thinking of her life, she imagined a different life for herself. Had things transpired in another way, perhaps she would not have been in this car headed for the apartment of Viktor Heslow. Had that young boy not stopped meeting her at the bus stop before school she would probably have been married by now. A wife, she wondered how many children she would have. Boys or Girls? Blonde or Dark? A life like that seemed so far away, like her childhood and her dreams belonged to another world entirely. All she had in her world was her instrument, and a man named Viktor Heslow.
Pulling up after Piazza cavour, the driver drove through a gate which opened automatically. Two armed bodyguards met them at the entrance as the violins stopped. Insisting on a body search, she reluctantly gave after and spread her legs arms firmly on the bonnet. They will never search my purse, and if they do they won't find anything suspicious. My instrument is perfect in every way.
Mouth pursed and eyes angry with defiance, she let the bodyguard search her. He was a fat Italian with a receding hairline. Ugly in every way, even his clothing seemed to dislike him – his shirt would not stay in his pants, there were stains all over his tie and his pants were two sizes too large. As he searches, she remained angry and cool – she had done this before and never once gotten caught. The tricky part was getting out.
Search done, the beast led her past a pool and into a hallway. Decadent scenes of angels having sex with men clad the walls, and from the ceiling hung a chandelier. This chandelier was nowhere as fine as the one in the gambling room however. Made to order probably, from a Crystal penis dangled a thousand sets of crystal balls. So a Pervert, she mused as the beast led the beauty up a double staircase and to Viktor's chambers.
The door complained noisily as she entered the room. Viktor sat on a golden chair with french embroidery reading some book. He looked up when she entered and closed the book. There were no windows her, nor paintings, only brown cement for both floor and walls. Next to Viktor perched upon a baroque oak table was an ice bucket with two bottles of champagne. Standing up eagerly, Viktor led her to the bed. On it was a full meal. A salad for her with a steak on the side, swimming in a french cheese-sauce. For him, a steak and fries in an ocean of bernaise.
Reclining on the bed, he had eaten the entire thing, gulping and barping and licking it all away. She had not had a single nibble, all she fiddled with was her bag. Within it lay her instrument, and she needed to be ready when the time came.
In the room, which grew damper by the minute. They had counted of the hours with him telling all about herself whilst she nodded her and smiled a little there. The only light in the room came from a small bulb in the ceiling and there was no sound whatsoever, he had probably had it sound proofed. A little after little, he inched himself closer. Slowly, he untied her dress and she unzipped his pants. Shirt on, he lifted up her skirt. She was now lying flat out on the sofa, both arms and legs spread. Foreplay was seemingly no issue for this man, as he was hard as a horse once his trousers hit the ground. Gently, she led him inside of her.
There was some resistance of course as she was in no way enticed by him and her vagina was dry as the Sahara. He had a big gut and small arms. Body as white as his hair the man was no catch any day of the week. Nonetheless, she resisted the pain and smiled teasingly as he began working his hips.
Perspiration dropped on her dress as the man growled and burped and swayed his hips. Soon. She thought, clutching the instrument hard in her hand. She felt nothing whatsoever, she was simply a shell. A missile floating through space on its way to its target. Soon it will be all over. As the horror slid in and out of her, she was someplace else. Neither content nor discontent, she weighed each moment waiting for the right time. Shortly thereafter, it revealed itself when he wanted to change position. He wanted to do the reverse cowgirl.
Arms and limbs about, Naome opened her palm and let the string fall. As thin as a spider's web the instrument was invisible – unless you knew it was there. In the intense heat of sex and copulation, she nicked him in the chest. He fell backwards out of breath. Leaping over him, she twirled the string about his neck and jumped off the bed. 1 second. Ensnared by the bedpost, the man struggled for some time. Arms and legs flailing. Lying on the floor, she held the string with both hands. It tore into her palms and blood coarse out, but she did not stop. Loudly she counted the seconds. 30 Small groans of pains escaped the man who grew limper by the minute. 1.23 Then he fell still. Naome waited, still holding the string tight. After five minutes she released the pressure and went to check his pulse. Usually, people would fall still after a minute or so, but experience had shown her that it was better to wait a little longer.
No beauty in life, but in death Viktor seemed even more hideous. Bloodshot eyes starred on her chest as she checked his neck for a pulse. His dick was still hard. What an ugly creature. She put on her panties, placed the instrument in the bag.
Before leaving, she looked back on the room. Brown and ugly but filled with exquisite furniture. What kind of Room was it? What did he usually do here? She realised that like Viktor, the room to looked considerably uglier after. The air was heavier, the walls browner and there was a dead monster sprawled on the bed. Taking care not to be noticed, she repaired to the bed and hid the body under the red sheets. There was no blood or anything, when they removed the body there would be no sign she was even here.
“I told the guards I had to pee, they directed me to a toilet. Instead of going there, I went to the balcony and jumped into the pool. There were no guards outside. That done I skipped the fence and walked here. That's my story”
The Italian clapped, leaned back and gave her a sly smile.
“Well done Me Amor! Tell Katherine that if I ever want to do some more refurbishing I'll give her a call”
“So you said the room looked different? How so?
“Well, it was more of a feeling...of course it looked all the same. It was just this gut feeling you know.”
“Yes, I understand perfectly.
Hey! Know what you did? You changed the meaning of that Room. If I Am to be completely honest, since you have done such fantastic work, that room was used for Viktors hookers. It is soundproof and beneath the bed is hidden all manners of things, batons, handcuffs, knives and shit. What Viktor usually does is take a hooker there, lie with her some, then tie her up and rape her. Not like a nice rape, a bad one like hitting her, dragging of her fingernails, cutting her – that kind of rape. Then he'd kill her. But I'm glad you proved the stronger human, I truly am”
“So you can make some changes to the city? A brothel perhaps?”
She was tired and wanted to go home, a fact that resonated in her voice. The Italian could not see this, but underneath the table her hands had found a knife and was beginning to cut open her thigh. The Italian did not notice. She had a face of stone. Line after line, the knife trailed her thighs – red lines in its wake.
“Perhaps, perhaps not. A city planner as myself simply wants what is best for the city. A man who rapes hookers is no fun to anyone, eh? I myself will transform the lives of all prostitutes – that they may walk the streets in peace”
“And make money for you? Where did you even find them? Do they get paid or are they just slaves?”
“Ahem, si si. It is getting late, you did me a favour so I'll do one for you and forget your tone. Thank you again, Bella Donna, for helping me refurbish that part of the city. Where before there was a bedroom, there is now a crime-scene”
Kissing her on the cheek, he bid her farewell and walked in a straight line back across the piazza. She remained and ordered another whisky, this one double. When the whiskey proved to weak to still her hands, she rose and caught a cab back to her hotel. Sitting in the cab seeing the buildings pass by, she noticed how dirty and noisy Rome was. In fact she did not like it one bit. Feeling tired, she leaned against the window. Her hands would not stop, but her mind was still. Again – under that weird moon – she went into her cave again. And in the blackness of the rock, the earthen walls cold and humid to her touch, Naome dreamed of her and the boy talking happily beneath the yellow bus stop sign.