Asylum, Chapter Nineteen
"A stock broker?"
"Well, what am I to say?"
Frankie looked at him while she thought things through.
"Uh, I donno, loan shark? Professional racketeer? Universal fence?"
"Come now. You couldn't visit my pool in jail."
"It's been done already."
"What, ol' Frank? Nobody even knew it most of the time, and now they've already forgotten."
"I used to be a student, but that only goes so far. Besides, if I could be bothered I would definitely make a living off the market."
"Ya, I remember."
"At any rate, I told her I'll have my driver pick her up. Poor woman, I told her I'm only in town for a few days."
"I thought you were going to Cuba."
"So, you'll only be in town a few days."
"Well it's not what she understood, I'm sure." The man smiled. "At any rate, she's in for a surprise."
"So, I hear you two have turned the club into a highschool prom?"
"Hehe, she just couldnt keep herself could she?"
The man just smiled "you know Janice".
"Well it was like this, I came in and your future wife" the man reached over and pinched her ass, and Frankie put up a face to pretend she was ignoring it, not that the pretense wasn't obvious, "wiiiifeee was reading some paperback thing so I went after her and she ran in the kitchen."
"You shouldn't be playing with your food."
"My food?!" Frankie's voice was squeaky on the "d".
"Well, if she's gonna be my wife, you bet!"
"Eh shuddup, you're interrupting me. So after a bit in came Janice, honeymooning with dork 1, who, as it happens, is the one who has a thing for your wiiifeee."
"To be, or not to be. At any rate, he went after her in the kitchen, and we, of course, followed. Next thing they knew, there were the four of us in a six square foot kitchen, and then I pinched his ass and he nearly mounted her right there, against the stove with the boiling coffee pot on it."
"Hehe, I remember this part."
"And then we took him out, and back on the sofa between the two of us, where he could be properly tended."
"Then in came the rest of them, and that slutty friend of yours took her shoes off and put her feet into dork nr 2's lap, and then asked him if he minds. The poor guy had a face like a teenager being... hey, you have any idea of how school kids party? It's like all the boys are virgins, and of course they try to act like they are at least assistant producers for "Juggs" and the girls are virgins and not really interested to even discuss the matter, except a few of them are not, and more than interested to discuss it with their male peers, which leads to this very amusing situation where the girls turn them on out of their wits on purpose, mostly to see how much they can take. And they can take an awful lot, and keep quiet about it."
"Wasn't aware it could be done outside suburban high schools."
"I'll take that as a compliment." said Frankie, with a grin. "So that's essentially what that slut you keep for a friend, for unclear purposes, was into, and I was forced to follow suit."
"Don't tell me, she made you do it? You didnt want to, but she made you."
"Yep." Frankie was the mother of innocence. How you could be the mother of innocence and still be innocent yourself is a matter left aside for future consideration. "I didn't even realize what she did at first, except she told me to substitute one of their DVD's for the one in her purse, and when I was returning with my mission complete she told me to sit in dork #2's lap and not be still...as it turns out she did a little more to the poor guy than just get a foot massage... she was giving one too!"
"What, a footjob?"
"I suppose..."Frankie was laughing. "A footjob, ey? I suppose she invented a new dirty. At any rate, what was I to do? I helped evenly distribute the unction, at least give it a chance at drying in time."
"Or as Janice described it, you simply pinned him down so he couldn't find an opportunity to visit the toilet."
"Or that. And of course now she was free to work her evil ways on dork #3, which kinda covers them all, minus the crazy one. And by then the TV was a good twenty minutes into, you will never guess it!"
"Ya, what was it? Janice wouldn't tell."
"What, the Ben Hur of all porn?"
"Well no wonder she wouldn't tell, I have been missing my only copy."
Frankie was laughing, "It's only fair, after all we did all the work, someone has to provide the capital, as it were."
"You know, I bought maybe two dozen of that one over the years and it always ended up as capital somewhere or other, they will start thinking I have a fetish."
"And you don't?"
"Anyway, what then?"
"Then they were all blushy and flushy and twirly... no, wait, no twirly, and we left."
"You will be that guy's undoing."
"No, it's strange. Today there was nobody in the observatory across the street."
"Poor sod, he must have gotten himself into trouble."
"Ya, there?s probably a chopped up fourteen year old in a car trunk somewhere."
"So I suppose this sums it up for the club then, doesn't it?"
"Now listen you old perv, we are nice girls at your beck and call, but enough's enough. There is nothing left to do there but get bored, and not even for you."
"Wasn't gonna say anything. I suppose now someone will have to write the story of it all."
"Not worth the effort, it's too much like a private joke. Who's gonna get it?"
"There's your car, want me to hide in the closet?"
"I'm not keeping skeletons in the closet, it's the basement with me."
"Please, I don't want to go in the cement!" Frankie was talking in a high squeaky voice. Shirley Temple would have said "Darling", thumb in mouth and all.
"Besides, I don't think Peggy would see the humour."
"It's Peggy already isn't it? Peggy and ..... sitting in a tree." Frankie was stuck on her childish talk.
"If you don't behave I?m going to make you strip and wear the doggy leash."
"She already thinks I'm a bitch."
"I wonder why?"
"It?s all because you made me do it. I didn't want to, but you made me."
The phone call that day had more than surprised Peggy. She was still reeling a bit from the events at the club, still wondering, in fact, if she should go back and explain to Fred what she had guessed of the two women, or just let sleeping dogs lie and get on with her own life. The kids would be back from the summer with their father in a few days and life would be back to normal, whatever that was.
At least that was the way her mind was running when the phone rang. As always now she hesitated, it might be Ralph, she guessed she really should do something about that problem.
"Hi, it's Nick. How are you today?"
"Hi, Nick. I'm good. How's New York?"
"You know, you don't have to be actually in New York to broker."
"But you said you will only be in town a few days, I thought ..."
"Yes, as a matter of fact I will catch a plane tonight, but that's not yet. Are you busy?"
"No, I don't have any plans, I'd enjoy seeing you."
"Alright then, I'll send a car for you, about 6?"
Peggy was so surprised by that one she couldn't even form the words to ask about it.
"Ehh.. ok, see you then."
She set the phone down and just stood there staring at it as if it were a snake that might bite any second. Send a car for her? Whatever was this all about? She had in fact thought about Nick a lot the last couple of days. Well, a lot was relative, there had been much on her mind with the happenings at the club, and Ralph, and the kids due back and ...
But in the moments in between all that, she had tried to go back to thinking about Nick, trying to figure what it was that had seemed so odd about him. Nothing had come along to enlighten her and now the mystery deepened.
In another lifetime Peggy would not have ventured into uncharted territory like this, this would have been a mystery set carefully and safely on a shelf, never to be examined again. But now... well now it seemed that mysteries were meant to solved, or at least investigated. Checking the time, she moved off to shower and dress, surely the car would be as prompt as Nick himself.
Peggy was just making a final check of things when the car pulled up, at least she assumed that was it. A long white town car had little other business on the street in her neighborhood.
"Good evening madam." A very polite man opened the door for her quietly, with small gestures.
Everything about him was discreet and smooth, he didn't move slowly but he had a stillness about him that was soothing for strained nerves.
So that is how a limo driver is, thought Peggy to herself, suddenly realizing there is something about big white cars and drivers and the big houses rich people live in that is not ever conveyed through glossy magazines or news stories or films or anything else. It's not that their houses are five times the size of yours. It's not that they pay for a car what you pay for a house-with-a-wife package. It's simply that they are more comfortable, designed and built simply to serve you. Not stress you, but to make you feel relaxed and comfortable, not to save you money and the building company space and time. A fundamental difference.
"Thank you." She said as he was holding the door open for her. The driver looked at her for a second, with a shaky gaze, and then she was enclosed in a small leathery room.
Peggy looked about, she hadn't been in a car like this since her own senior prom, and she wouldn't even let herself think about how long ago that was, much less tell. Here she was, almost behaving like that silly teenager, overly impressed with the things. Sigh, she was impressed, how foolish.
Tearing her gaze away from all that, she studied the back of the driver?s neck, which was about all she could see of him before she noticed that the rearview mirror was angled such that she could see his eyes, and that he was in fact watching her.
Freddie was salivating as Pavlov demanded, but it was more a matter of habit than anything else. He noticed himself and was somehow startled, there was a strange air about this woman, he thought. There was no reason he should think she would act anything like the usual inhabitants of the small room welded to the back of his neck. Over the years he had seen so many girls in there... aspiring starlets, playboy centerfolds, both before and after they had graced humanity with the bare presentation of all they owned in this world, singers that could dance, dancers that could sing, journalists that blew, blowgirls that were excessively curious... most of them were something and wanted to be some other, to the point where they in fact claimed to be, and acted as if they were two things at the same time.
You can't drive a car two ways. If you try, it swerves and, if you are lucky, you won't crash it. Provided you come to your senses in time and stop trying to make it go two ways at once. Freddie knew as much about cars. Why would people try to go two ways? There was no reason to think that could work any better, and everyone had a driver's licence, yet nobody seemed to realize it can't possibly be done with a car, or with yourself.
Then there were a few of the other kind. Freddy had seen maybe a half dozen, all in all. They were never afraid. Every other girl he ever picked up somewhere, or dropped off somewhere was petrified. She might do the wrong thing. She might not be perfectly made up when she met the casting assistant, so they would always go about perfectly made up. She might ruin her voice, so she didn't dare smoke, except she smoked and didn't dare notice she was in fact smoking. She might ruin her figure and who wants a fat dancer? But she couldn't stop herself from cream and butter and chocolate and ice cream and then, after she stuffed her stomach beyond the possible, even for a whale, there was no more hiding, no denying of the fact that she had, in fact, eaten.
But there were a few that were never afraid. You can strip them naked on the corner of the street, you can arrest them, you can crash into their car, dump them in the alligator pond, they'd still shake their head for a no and nod it for a yes.
And now, there was a third kind, he thought. Peggy was not of the half dozen, but she was not of the rest either. Freddie scratched his head in a reflex gesture... it was almost like his boss, you'd know him for years, and you'd think you have it pegged. Not about the big things, Freddie wouldn't know about anything on those lines, and he religiously tried to keep himself out of it. Five hundred times he would do the same thing the same way, rain or sunshine and then there'd be the five hundred and oneth time, and you'd think it'd be the same still, but he went exactly the opposite, or maybe not the opposite but something different that you'd have never thought about, and after a while you could see, often enough, that anything else would have been just plain silly.
Peggy watched the driver watching her. She considered for a moment asking him about his boss. She could try to use this time to her best advantage, but quickly rejected the idea, from the little she had seen it would be a waste of time, and pretty rude too. In the end she settled for proforma conversation.
"Lovely day, isn't it?"
"Are we going far?"
"No, Ma'am, we are almost there."
"Ma'am sounds funny, my name is Peggy."
Peggy sighed to herself, obviously she had no idea how to get a conversation going. For now she gave up and settled back in the seat, deciding to pay some attention to the passing scenery.
"Yes, Ma'am. My name is Freddie." and after a short pause
"Here we are."
The car pulled to a majestic stop on the circular drive in front of a big white house. Freddie was opening the door for her, not the one she went in through, but the one next to the entrance, and Peggy had to move around to come out, half bent, and as she got out, head first, her heel got caught in something and she plunged forward.
"Oh my God!" Peggy thought to herself in a split second as she was losing her balance, and pictured herself falling on the curb as she was trying to exit the car and breaking all her teeth and having to be taken out in an ambulance. What a date! Luckily for her, Freddie noticed and stepped in front of her, taking her in his arms, and breaking her fall. Eventually, she ended up doing a sort of half circle through the air, losing one shoe in the process, but landing safely on her feet.
"Will you get my shoe?" she whispered as she was trying to catch her breath.
Freddie was back in a second helping her put it on, and she moved off quickly towards the door. Halfway there she remembered she hadn't even thanked the man, and stopped trying to think of something to do... she couldn't go all the way back, she thought as she turned to do just that, and instead just waved to the driver and darted off. "Just like a silly schoolgirl" she thought to herself as she made it to the door.
The door opened before she could even locate the bell, a pretty maid, in a uniform that was a shade too revealing for good taste, yet just short enough to give a good taste, smiled and showed her in.
The living room was empty, a nice fire crackled on the hearth and Peggy could see a pool beyond some sliding glass doors. The maid however didn't stop here and Peggy followed her on down a long hall to another room, a library. Who even keeps such a stuffy affair in their house? Peggy looked around, it was a long room, maybe fifty yards long, and the walls were all lined with shelves, wooden shelves all the way up to the ceiling, which was very high, maybe twenty feet. At regular intervals there were stairs going up on a wooden platform, and in the middle of the room there were more shelves, arranged to form big rectangles. On the wall opposite to the entrance there were tall windows breaking through the shelves, about as wide as the space they left, and the setting sun threw its last rays inside through them, making the dust sparkle in the air. In the spaces the windows cut there were small tables and armchairs, but they all looked old, and none were identical, here a single big easychair with a very high back, there a few small chairs and a table with arched legs, there just two...
Peggy could hear the murmur of conversation from her left, and she started that way. The place was so peaceful and quiet, no sounds came from outside, just the faint rustle of the wind in the trees and a bird call now and again. The sun left patterns of light and dark on the floor, so vivid she kept looking down in a panic that she might stumble on something and fall, but there was nothing there, just rays of light.
Eventually she came to see someone seated in the window, Nick was in a highback chair turned slightly towards the windowseat talking with someone seated there that she could only make out as a profile against the bright setting sun. The soft lining of books on all the wall, and the plush carpet muffled the sounds so that she could not even make out the voices as more than a soft murmur.
Nick turned and the other person started chuckling.
"Nick, is it?"
Peggy recognized the voice. She had heard it before. There could not be any mistake. It was Frankie, and she collapsed in the nearest chair, limp. What was going on here, she thought desperately, turning that question again and again in her mind like a captive mouse in a rotating cage.
"Hello Peggy." Nick was smiling reassuringly, the way he always had been. Peggy just looked at him with the wide eyes of some trapped animal, hoping it will be quick.
"Will you join us for coffee?" Frankie was all smiles, and although it didn't look like she was up to no good, Peggy didn't even bother considering the possiblily she isn't. She nodded and went back to her mouse in a rotating cage.
"How did you two meet, anyway?" Frankie had certainly decided to use the moment for all it was worth.
"Well, I told Jamie to find somebody we know who lives on the Parkside, and then they had a sort of a...umm... dinner party I suppose."
"A set up!" Peggy was suddenly on her feet, with fiery eyes. "It was all a setup! All along!" she was almost shouting, happy to be able to speak, happy to let some of the steam slowly built in her head out, somehow, no matter how, out.
"Now now, do sit down." The man was speaking in an even, determined tone, and she sat like a schoolgirl in math class.
Two deep breaths later she was back on her feet again. Turning to "Nick" she said in a flat, even tone
"Well, I guess you two have had your fun, would you be good enough to call your driver for me now?"
"Did you have your fun?" the man was looking at her with even eyes, and that made her squirm, like he was piercing right through her. The question didn't make any sense so she chose to ignore it and wait for him to make a sensible response to her request. Of course she could just turn and walk out, but she wasn't quite ready to do that.
"He always asks impossible questions like that." Frankie turned to the man. "No, she didn't, she couldn't have had, to have fun you need to organize it, and who was to organize it for her?" She was speaking in a much more even tone, without all the flowers and punctuations that irritated Peggy every time they had met before. And strangely enough, appeared to speak on her behalf, if in a somewhat backhand manner. Of course Peggy wasn't falling for that, the woman was pure venom, the last person she wanted helping her out.
"I guess you would know about organized fun! You organized more than enough for the guys at the club. You enjoy playing with people's lives like that?"
"Well, in honesty, it wasn't really for them, it was more like with them. They are more than free to organize their own using me, or Janice, or anyone else for that matter. It's not like I'm the one forcing them to be boring and silly, now am I?"
"Boring and silly is a matter of opinion, and what you have done is force your opinion on them."
"So, you are playing with the lives of others, like they were chess pieces or something, it's cruel and should be beneath you."
"Why my dear Peggy. A compliment? You look lovely today yourself. Prove they are not chess pieces and I'll forever stop.?
"Prove they are!"
Frankie was laughing and the man broke his silence.
"Well, we are here, aren't we?"
Peggy had been so focused on the harpy that she had forgotten about Frankie and Janice's partner in crime, or was it the chess master? She turned towards Nick again, he was standing there in this impossibly relaxed attitude, not a trace of conscience, how could she have thought he was ... Oh bah!
"I guess I really am accusing the wrong person, I bet the whole thing was your idea. But why? What is the purpose of screwing around in others' lives like that?"
"Purpose..." the man looked in the distance for a second "Now let?s see..." he was in a business tone, Peggy felt sure he could sell an idea as easily as he could buy some people. "What is the purpose of your life? You were married for years, but it didn't work out. You had two kids, but they are about to leave, and if not this year, and not the next, that?s what they are going to do anyway, when they feel ready for it. Saying you have kids is a strange lapse of logic, you should say some kids have you, by rights. So what is the purpose?"
Peggy almost growled out loud, but managed to swallow it. Nick, if that was his name, was the most infuriating person she had ever met.
"Are you capable of actually anwering a question? Or do you just have a ready stock of more questions to try and confuse the issues?"
"But what can I do? You ask me what is the purpose? Who the hell knows what is the purpose. What?s the purpose of this cup? I use it to hold coffee, but if I were in a bad spot I might use it to break a window, or hold a hot coal. What is the cup's purpose? Does it even matter what I use it for? That's not its purpose, that?s my purpose for it."
The fury left her, in fact she suddenly felt some sympathy for the two vamps. Had this sort of thing been what created them? Did they spend way too much time listening to questions designed to make you question everything you knew about how the world worked, had they lost all reason hanging around this man who must indeed have spent hours kissing the Blarney stone?
Deciding that she, at least, was not falling into the trap, she turned back to Frankie.
"I do hope that you are all done with this particular game. Do enjoy your coffee." And with that she turned and headed where she thought she recalled the door to this cavernous room was. She walked for at least twice as long as she remembered she had coming in, and eventually she came to a wall. Darn, she must have missed the entrance, so she turned back, and kept next to the wall, trying to make sure she doesn't miss the door again... and she walked a long way when she met a wall again. This is getting ridiculous, Peggy thought, and decided to follow the window side. She walked what seemed a quarter mile before coming again to the same table, from the same angle. The table now held a third cup of coffee and a tall bottle of water. She wouldn't have minded a cup of coffee, but she could have done without just as well. She was, however, getting thirsty from all the walking in the dust.
Glaring at the two of them she poured herself a glass of water, ignored the coffee and sat in the unoccuppied chair that was farthest from them.
"Welcome back" Nick smiled at her.
Peggy said nothing, just sipped the water and steamed. Finally she set the glass down and tried again.
"OK, so I guess you won't provide any answers about your silly games with the club. Can you at least enlighten me as to why you brought me here? What?s the point in letting me see all this now? Is it just a way for you to squeeze the final laugh out of the whole thing?"
"Gladly, this is the library of enlightment after all. Things are not separate you see? If you land a good job, that's a way to pay the bills, but it's also a way to chain your person to the office. We may well be trying to squeeze the last drop out of it, but that might also be a way for you to get questions answered. I, for one, will never trust anyone who doesn't have a selfish motive, would you?"
"You really believe that? People always have selfish motives? It might be so in a way, even so called selfless acts have rewards, but people don't always know that when they start off."
"Have you noticed that whenever someone fucks you over they say it's for your own good? Or everyone's favorite, ?best for all those involved?."
Peggy winced at the language.
"Are you saying all this was for my own good? But in fact by your own word it would only be an accident if it were since it was for your own selfish amusement."
"So, looking back over the past weeks, what have you lost?"
"Lost? Well it's a bit soon to say for sure, but the club is pretty much a goner, the idea of the place was as a safe heaven, but now that it has been invaded and spoiled it will be of no use to anyone. You perhaps, if I give you the benefit of the doubt, thought to do good by expanding the lives of those invloved, but you have in fact spoiled their only chance to expand it for themselves."
"Why would it have to be a goner? The girls won't show up anymore and it can go back to its normal routine. Which is what it was all along, and what it was intended to do. A new layer of routine, for those people who have brains enough to yank them a shade above drowning in all the other routines. The extra bucket of water added to a well in which someone fell who was too tall."
"Well, you should know that it won't go back. You never can go back. "
"You sound like someone refusing to grow up. Of course you can't go back, and why should you?"
"Are you really that thick? Or just being obtuse on purpose? You wrecked the club and you just don't want to admit the pain you have caused playing about in people?s lives."
"I didn't wreck it, and that because I couldn't be bothered to notice it long enough. It got wrecked, as it was meant to."
"Meant to? That?s a bold statement, you presume to know what was meant to be? Has the universe revealed all of its secrets to you?"
"Well, the fact remains that if it weren't meant to, it wouldn't have been."
"By that reasoning everything that ever has or ever will happen is meant to."
"And what's the problem with that?" The man was looking at her with white shiny smiley eyes.
"You remove the opportunity for free will, that's what's wrong with it."
"No. I can still do whatever I please, you can still do whatever you please, it's just that you can't rely on me doing what you please to think I should. If anything it preserves freedom."
"Useless freedom. Why bother to do anything at all if it has no effect whatsoever on what was meant to be?"
"Because you can. And because it's fun."
"About as much fun as Sysiphus is having."
"You object against the human condition? It is not my fault you know? Or Frankie's. You are angry with the wrong man."
"Not against the condition, against your limited beliefs about it. You chose this belief that lets you behave in any manner that suits you, ignoring any chance that you might injure others in the process. That is your choice, and I object to being in the fallout pattern."
"I suppose it is immoral, isn't it? Tell me, if you had wings would flight be immoral? Sex and erotics are injuring people? They lost limb and life to my reckless ways? And all that because I do not believe that which can't be proven? Do you believe your cup is alive and feels the pain every time you fill it with hot coffee? Or do you approve of some limitations to belief, if they happen to be your own, but not others'?"
"Obviously in your belief system no wrong can be done, but allow for a moment that you might be wrong. Allow for a moment that your actions can effect and change the way things were meant to be. "
"Why not? Are you afraid?"
"Suppose it's like this. I see a girl and I like her and I walk up to her and tell her ?Hello, I just saw you and I like you?. And she says, ?but suppose for a second we are in London, and suppose it is the year of our Lord 1895, and suppose I am wearing a long dress that keeps me from walking and a corset made of metal wire that keeps me from breathing and you will have to kiss me every half hour for two hours each day on the Piccadilly and then visit my parents every Thursday and then follow countless other ceremonies and eventually marry me but never shall we see each other naked, or even talk about things that are simply natural?. And then I should ask ?why? and she'd say ?why not? Are you afraid?? Well I am not afraid, but I think I only have this much time, and I can come up with idiotic blindfolds myself, and this one isn't on the list."
Peggy sighed softly, this talk was going nowhere, in fact he put on this big act of being open minded when his view of the world was narrow beyond belief. Was there anyway at all to reach him or was she wasting her breath here?
"In the same way that you would not choose to have Victorian courting standards required of you there are people that would not choose to have your standards applied to them. You overstep reasonable bounds of behavior when you do that. I suppose immoral is as good a word as any for that."
"What did I impose?"
"Hhumph, of course you don't seem to have dirtied your own hands with it. Instead you sent your minions. And the good people of the club welcomed them, only to have them ruin the place."
The man turned to the other woman. "I think she called you mignonne."
"Why do you think it is, Peggy? Why am I here, rather than with whatever his name is? Or the other whatever his name is? Why don't I go out and find a good man for myself and settle down and have kids and get divorced and be lonely and desperate?"
"In fact I don't think you have the guts for it. It takes things you can't possibly understand, loyalty, commitment, persistance ..."
"You know, plowing the field in the ox's yoke also takes things I don't have the guts for. And where is your loyalty and commitment? What are you commited to? Is it anything other than yourself, or rather what you somehow arrived to believe, or were indoctrinated to believe is your lot in this life? How could you know if I'm loyal or not? Maybe I can say more for my many friends than you can say for your single husband."
"Your life is your choice, as mine is mine. If the ox did not plow the field we all would be very hungry."
"I heard they used machines nowadays."
"Well when they make machines that have babies and keep house do let me know. Fact remains that I could be your mother, but you could not be mine. I have no problem with you living the life you choose, but you apparently have a problem with me living the one I choose."
"In fact we don't, not really. We have a problem with people who pretend they are doing one thing and are in fact doing another. But if you put it like that, you are more than welcome to it. I'll be happy to see you here again any time, should you feel inclined to peruse my library, or take a swim, or anything else, just don't hit the cognac."
Peggy was startled again, she seemed to keep focusing on the conversation with either and forgetting that it was in fact two against one. She turned back to Nick.
"I really must be going now, would you be kind enough to show me the way out of this maze?"
The man gestured as if to show her something, and as she turned to look there was the maid, standing quietly behind her. She stood up, nodded her head and took off. When she was out of sight, Frankie turned towards the man.
"I think she's sexy."
"I think she forgot her purse." The man was holding a small, white bag, smiling.