Center of the onion resides the rabbit hole.
|27. She was 27 years old. Didn't look more than 20. Probably would work to advantage for us.|
Yes, I should've done all of my homework. Shouldn't've opened my big mouth, but it was what it was, and we would move forward from here.
Had to look it up, but vividly remembered the day I'd found that tiny indistinct little thread in her behavioral pattern that led us to her. Remembered cross checking the information between little snippets, refining and bringing it all into focus. I remembered standing over the counter with all my papers spread out everywhere. Remembered keying in the key components. Remembered the routine coming back with a 99.6 percent probability. And I remembered looking over at the back of all the draped, black material and saying, "The Commissioner's daughter?"
And whammo, I was knocked aside, the info was seized, compiled, digitized and stored in an encrypted file in his hard drive. And then came the request for the additional phone number. Glad to have been of service ... BUT ...
Suffice it said: 27 was a real relief. All things being equal, not being of legal, adult age would've presented certain difficulties. Beyond what I'd already considered. We would need to reach a mutual arrangement first, and undoubtedly, we would move along from there.
I still had a few questions, and I'm sure she had plenty for me.
I adjusted the body suit standing around the front foyer, waiting inside the front door. Pale white light forced its way through the crystal window reinforced within its iron-framed, little cage of burglar bars on the outside. Man, the false breasts and the belly were heavy, and I was overheating a bit. Pantyhose had started to bunch and to shift around my midriff. I hefted the padding beneath my powder-blue skirts and yanked up the waistline.
... this'd be worth the price of admission ...
Practiced my hunch and muttered a bit to myself, "Uno, dos, tres, quatro, cinco ..." just as a distraction, to help pass the time. Damned suit was a real pain in the ass, but it would be worth it. Friggin scalp had started to itch beneath the latin "fade and bun" wig I'd resuscitated from storage. Flicked a few drops of spittle from the false teeth with my tongue, "Seis, siete, ocho (sounded like Achaw) ... OH-choh (I tried again trilling the high affectation I'd practiced long enough to be satisfactorily feminine. Not too forced, sort of a "mama-was-a-tomboy" kind of thing.) ... ahem, (calmly) Ocho, nueve, diez ... "(I studied myself in the hall mirror ... ran a hand under my chin man this prosthetic. Priceless ... couldn't tell I had an Adam's Apple at all ... kind of proud of the makeup as well ... really. Not shabby overall ... out of practice as I was)" ... On-say ..." I pouted provocatively, before blowing myself a kiss ..."
Familiar, throaty engine noise sounded in the distance and drew nearer and nearer. For a second, I feared she might blow right through the front door. But the roar quit itself abruptly with a slight overcorrection, a skid and the spray of gravel across the bottom step outside.
I cleared my throat quietly and listened to the silence. Clasps releasing, followed by a jangle of chain. A helmet plunked down upon one end of a handlebar. And then footsteps: crunch crunch crunch crunch to the steps followed by the thup, thup, thup, thup, clonk of heavy boots trodding upon stone.
I straightened my hair, hunched over. I waited a few bated moments, until I was almost sure I heard one leather clad arm raise in anticipation of a knocking.
"Si! Si!" I called loudly, click clacking my low clogs along the marble, "Espera un momento" I trudged in a circle pushing a little chicken dance into an electric slide.
"Espera! Ya voy, ya voy!"
I shifted to the deadbolts. Drew them back feigning some difficulty with a few heavy breaths. Twisted the nob forcibly, and smooshed one eye and part of my nose into the gap created between the door and the jamb as the chainlock drew taught.
"Si?! Cayn Aiy 'Elp you?" I inquired suspiciously.
She took a step back and posed onto one knee, slightly bent, hands jammed into the pockets of her heavy, brown leather jacket. Jeans armored at the knees and another pair of combat boots, these were more Doc Marten-esque ... rather than military. Always wanted a pair of those.
"Y ..." she gulped at my eye, "Yes." I drew a severely painted on eyebrow down in scrutiny. "Here to see, Alfred? The manservant or whatever? I have an appointment."
"Que?!!" I barked.
"Alfred. I need to speak with Alfred. He works here. I have an appointment."
"No, Alf ... Alf-Fred. Alfred. Mr. Wayne's Manservant."
"Oh no no no nooooo. Mr. Wayne. Mr. Wayne, he no home."
"No. Alfred. Alfred who works here. I have an appointment!"
I slammed the door. I could see her eyebrows raised all the way to the tippy top of her head and stifled a giggle.
Tromping a few loud paces across the foyer I called shrilly into the house, "Señior?! ... Señiooorrr!" ... and then mumbled a few high pitched words followed by a few mumbled words in deep-throated response.
Clack clack clack ... back to the door.
Twisted the knob, threw off the chain and pensively opened the door wide.
"Ingrese por favor." meekly beneath my browline.
She stepped confidently across the threshold, stopping and looking into the house two or three paces inside.
I quietly maneuvered behind to close the door, replace the locks.
"Gracias." she said as I came around her left side, hunched such that she might only take the measure of the top of my head.
I waddled across the foyer and moved more into the house, hands bent at the wrists. Man this bodysuit. So friggin' warm.
Turned back when I realized she was just standing there.
"Sígueme, por favor." I said slightly patting my backside.
"Quoi? ... wait, que? What do you ..."
"You ..." I pointed laying it on thick, "Follow ... to ... me." I swatted myself again, grinning on the inside only.
"Oh ... OH." she hurried a few quick steps to catch up. "You want me to follow you."
I rolled my eyes in expressive exasperation. "Si SI!" I exclaimed throwing up my hands. Muttered a "Ay Yi Yi Yi." for effect.
She followed a couple of paces behind, which was to be expected as she took everything in. High ceilings everywhere, wood paneling in various shades, floor to ceiling throughout. Grand staircase separating smartly left and right at a landing wide enough to support an orchestra ... and had actually, at more than one of those parties he used to love so much. Marble and wood, portraits and statues, high mantles and banisters and chandeliers anywhere and everywhere a person might care to look.
We clomped and swooshed across hardwood and tile and heavy pile through several rooms: waiting rooms, meeting rooms, greeting rooms. Passed a bar at the end of one drawing room, lumbered by the kitchen, walked around that damnable piano noone'd ever known how to play. Grabbed at the latches set prominently into a set of large paneled doors, pulled them toward my protruding belly and slid the doors to the sides, and ushered her into the main living room.
Just inside and to the left, a staircase rose to the balcony library set high into the walls on three sides of the room. Straight ahead, my familiar panes of glass filtered sunlight into the darkened depths. The fire was out, but anyone entering for the first time would certainly detect a definitively smoky odor. Little particles of dust and ash clung heavy to the shafts of sunlight all around.
I ushered her into the room watching her eyes. They twinkled. Drinking it all in with interest. She turned a little circle, hands still in her pockets as if she were afraid to touch anything and raised her chin to the ceiling. I almost felt as if she might whistle. She seemed impressed.
She continued searching for the ceiling.
"Aghem", I cleared my throat delicately and swatted at her with a dusting cloth when our guest refused to acknowledge. "You. Unnerstain this?"
"Hmmm?" she'd moved over to my table and was perusing what was there ... I forgave her presumption ... needed to learn to share again.
"I say." I asserted rolling my eyes again. "You unnerstain? Espera ... ah-kee?? You ... wait ...?
Barbara nodded absently. Pushed a paper around. "Si. Entiendo."
In spanish ... accented ... almost perfect inflection. I gulped, almost broke character. Turned to leave the room.
"Is he ... around?" she called to my backside as I turned to pull the doors together.
"Si." I responded, "Una momento. You like ... someding to drink?" I called.
Her head shot up. She fixed me with her eyes, and ... well hell ... furrowed brow
"Yes, that would be lovely. Una agua por favor. No carbonatada." she was staring again.
"Si señora. Momento por favor."
"And ... Alfred?"
I choked a little ... on my own spit ... froze in mid pull. Met her gaze with one of my own.
The silence stretched out between us.
Stone busted. Dammit.
"Yes." I called in my voice from my little scrunchy, made up, face.
"You can take that off now." she said grinning.
"Welcome to the Manor." I waved back and slapped the doors together with a clack.