New York City. Present day.
Beth Anne and I wanted to go work out, so we found a gym that accepted my membership number from my hometown. The girl at the desk checked the number suspiciously when I entered it on the clipboard, and cross-referenced it with her catalogue. She found a current picture of me so she let me in. I glanced at the picture and was surprised to see it was not of me at all, but a sepia-stained funeral bouquet.
Beth Anne was not so lucky - the number she made up and wrote down raised an alarm that brought security running to detain us. We managed to dodge them and ran down the hallway toward the changerooms where, strangely enough, we were safe. I found a cubicle, put down my daughter and our luggage, and got dressed into my bathing suit.
When I emerged, goggled, flip-flopped and Speedo-ed, I walked up the stairs towards the pool and had a sudden thought: "I should phone Lizbon and tell her about this place. I bet she doesn't know this pool isn't closed." I retreated to the changeroom and got out my cell phone. I was about to dial her number when there was a knock on the cubicle door. The door dissolved into a one-way mirror so that I could see who it was outside...
We narrowly escaped with our lives, running flat out down the slippery tile corridor in our rubber flip flops. It was only while fleeing that I realized I had bought a one-way ticket to NYC and couldn't go home, though surely by now we had overstayed our leave of absence and Mr HalfSoledBooots would be wondering where we were.
"Well is it possible at one time that you were made of stone, wood, lye, varied corpse parts? Or, earth made holy by rabbinical elders?" -Dr Jules Hilbert, Stranger Than Fiction.
Victoria, ten days ago.
The living room was painted white, with cove ceilings and sparkly mini-lights draped here and there. I frowned at it in concentration, trying to place myself. I realized it was the apartment I shared with Penny for four years in university, only with new elements here and there, a different layout, and in a different building.
There were exotic, Islamic-influenced draperies and pillows. A subtle incense perfumed the air.
Then, a knock on the door, which I opened to let in the noise of a Chinatown street and the slick of rain on the pavement, and Dustin Hoffman.
"Oh, right - come in," I said, making way in the narrow hall for both him and his assistant, a nondescript man with incongruous muttonchop whiskers.
I showed them to the sofa, and hurried upstairs to get dressed. I found my coin belt okay, but kept picking up what I thought was my choli and skirt, but turned out each time to be something else. A choli, but with the bottom elastic missing so my bosom would shimmy straight out of it at the slightest lift of my arms. A cotton t-shirt with "Pink Floyd" written all over it. Everything but the costume I needed.
I heard a shout from downstairs and called back. "I'll just be one more minute!"
Suddenly I realized more than an hour had gone by. I dashed downstairs half dressed, to see a very irritated Dustin Hoffman getting up from his sofa. "I have to go, I can't wait any more. When I command a belly dance performance I expect it to be timely."
I couldn't think of what to say, so I blurted out "By the way, I loved you in 'Stranger than Fiction'..."
He paused, considered me with a glance, and said grudgingly, "I guess I could stay for a few more minutes."
Meanwhile, on the other side of the bed, Mr HSBoots was running desperately down a long ridge toward a restaurant where Sting was waiting to take him out for dinner. After a couple of courses, Sting stood up, threw down his napkin, and strode out of the door saying, "I'm leaving because you're a cranky bastard."
The crowd went wild.