“Get off!” I push Victoriana from me in the low light.
“You cannot be seen here. If anyone, I mean anyone, connects your face to that little writer friend of E’s…Have you any idea how deep a well they’ll drop us down?”
“Why would anyone see me out there and connect me with her?” I’ve not seen Victoriana so melodramatic until now.
“E is the face of this legislation, along with her grieving co-parties, one of which you’ve met unless my information misleads me. Your face was on national news.”
“That was ages ago,” I say.
“You don’t think it’s being drudged up in the wake of E’s appearance? The only reason you are still in position is because E insists. If I had my way, you’d be long gone before she ever said a word,” Victoriana says with a heavy sigh. “Damnable woman didn’t bother to tell anyone she wanted expanded legislation. It probably came to her in a dream and this was the way it had to be!”
Gone is the well-groomed, completely-controlled Capitol Hill Victoriana. Some harried version of her sulks in this closet.
“I need a cigarette.”
“You smoke?” I say, not thinking.
“Don’t you start with me,” she warns. A breath holds between us.
“So, am I living here now? I just never go outside ever again?”
“You do not commend yourself to this role with your lack of wit, did you know that?”
“Just tell me what I need to do,” I say, ignoring her jibe.
“I have no idea what E expects from you. You don’t have a minuscule chance of refurbishing the legislation. Someone is bound to see a resemblance between you and the writer chick who disappeared. E may have ruined the only good shot we had at passing viral victim legislation. You tell me. How does the story end?”
I have no answer. Scenarios flood my mind as I lean against the closed door. If I am to be discovered, I have to tell my folks. They can’t find out on the nightly news. A pit having nothing to do with this job for which I’m unqualified forms in my gut. How does the story end? It’s a loaded question with multitudes of bad endings and maybe a couple decent ones. How does the story end?
“At least call Stipple,” Victoriana, much calmer, says. She hands me a disposable phone. “I’ll loiter in the corridor and make sure you are not overheard.” A pause before opening the door is all she needs to realign her features and movement into the picture of civility.