CD Number: 24
Track Number: 8
Song: “Daisychain” by Buckner, Richard off the album Bloomed
All I had was the photo. I mean this nearly literally. I woke up naked in a room I had never been before. I think I’d never been there before. Hard to say, since I didn’t really remember anything. On the door hung a suit. Tailored. Black. Expensive looking. A hat dangled on the hook next to it. Was I a hat man, I wondered.
On a chair across the room were a robin’s egg blue shirt, a deep red tie, a pair of captoe shoes, socks, and a pair of silk underwear. The room looked like something that would give me Legionnaires if I stayed too long, so I embraced the strange. I slipped into the clothes.
They felt good. Warm (I didn’t realize how cold I was) but too much. They had a comforting heaviness to them without being constrictive. I still didn’t know who I was. Or what I was doing in this place that seemed like it had been pulled from a classic noir film frame, dropped into the real world, and been left untouched since. But I was starting to feel better.
A cursory exploration of my pockets came back with an old money clip thick with pictures of dead presidents, a blue pen from the Brunti Banquet Hall, a tooth pick, and the photo. It captured a woman, late 20’s, early 30’s maybe—although I sensed that I was a lousy judge of age. Didn’t know my name, but I seemed to know that. Useful.
In any case, it was taken fairly close, her face filling the frame, rendering it impossible to tell where she was. She was smiling. It was bright smile. Almost believable. But something about it…she was faking that smile. I could tell. On the back of the photo, underlined three times, it read “HER” in block letters. I wrote “her” again, directly below it and it was close enough that I am relatively assured that it was done by my hand. So, no name, still, but I knew I was lousy at guessing ages and what penmanship looked like.
A check with the front desk got me nowhere. They said I checked in by myself under the name Max Coleridge. That wasn’t me…it was a comic book character, a good guy pretending to be a bad guy. Called himself The Shroud when he was good deedin’ around. I briefly entertained the idea that there some insight to be gained by my choice of pseudonym. I worried I was giving myself a bit too much credit.
So in a cab I went and off to the Brunti. Maybe someone there would recognize me.
And that’s how I ended up here. In a loud crowded hazy ballroom looking out over a sea of unrecognized faces…and hers. Her gaze settles on mine and she looks…is that queasy? It is only a tick and then it boils away under the light of her smile. The big, broad, bright smile from the photo. Utterly false. I felt queasy myself. Whoever she was, I got the feeling she was far more than I could handle. But she was moving towards me. No place to go.
I gripped my glass tightly and screwed my Adam’s apple back down my throat. She placed her and on my arm, just above the elbow. It was not gentle brushing. It was a grip.
“Well then, Sam, you really are a bit of trouble aren’t you?”
At least I’ve got a name now.
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