To: Cathryn Espy
From: Maxim Patryshyn
Hope you like your dictionary entry. Let me know what you learn.
Cathryn read the email on her phone as she sat in ÖL with James, waiting for whoever was in that black limo to go away. She replied:
It has done me no harm so far, although it hasn’t made me rich either.
You may be interested to know that some gentlemen in a black car are at your building and have gone up in the elevator with your doorman. They arrived shortly after you and Marcy left, assuming that I am right that you left with Marcy Coachman.
I know this just because I happen to be in ÖL, where I have met someone named James who knows you.
She hit Send and looked up. James was watching out the window sidelong over his shoulder. “They’re leaving,” he said.
Cathryn reached into her purse and took out a makeup mirror, which she held up in front of her so she could see behind her out the window. The men were coming out the car. One of them stopped and looked across the street, at ÖL. “Let’s keep lurking in here,” she said.
“I am favour of continuing to lurk,” James said.
After a moment the man stopped looking, evidently having noticed nothing of interest, got into the car and the car pulled away smoothly.
Cathryn put away her mirror and picked up her phone. She added a new email to her thread with Maxim:
They’ve left. They appeared to be empty handed.
James was typing something into his phone, perhaps into the Notes app, going by the screen colour. After a few quiet moments, his phone vibed. “Maxim,” he said, perhaps vaguely surprised. He answered it. “Hello? …Yes. I’m here with, uh, Cathryn. …Gone about a minute ago, maybe less. …Oh-kay. …Ohh-kayyyy. …Shit, that might not go over so well. …Sure, well, I can ask. Hang on.” He took the phone away from his face and addressed Cathryn. “They can’t get out of town because those guys or more like them are probably waiting at the airport. They’re… holding Pierre in their consulate or something. The limo guys are. They need a place to go in town. I mean Maxim and Marcy do. Could they come over to your place? Sorry for asking.”
“Uh…” Cathryn was not expecting the question. But she couldn’t see a reason to say no. Except one. “I’m not there right now. No one is.”
He put his phone to his face again. “Hey. What would you do until she gets there? …Oh. Really.” He seemed, again, a little surprised. He pulled the phone off his face. “They’ll drive us there. They can meet us a couple of blocks away.”
Well, what else was there to do?
“OK.” Cathryn slid off the barstool and onto her feet. “Where?”
“Where?” he said into his phone. After a moment, he relayed: “Nathan and Albert.”
Cathryn glanced behind her and around her to make sure she wasn’t forgetting anything. Then she looked out the window to make sure the coast was clear. “Shall we?” she said.
“Let’s,” he said. Then, into his phone, “We’re on our way.”
It was literally a couple of blocks: one north and one east. They walked mostly in silence, watching out, not just for cars but for things they might say that would cause explosions or transmogrification. Nathan was a one-way street, so when they got to the intersection they chose a corner on its right side. The minivan pulled up; it had an Uber transponder in the front window. The side door slid open. Inside were Maxim, looking the same, and Marcy, undiminished in style; up in the driver’s seat was someone or other that Cathryn couldn’t see.
“Hop in,” said Maxim. Then “Sorry, get in. Wait, have I done ‘hop’?”
Cathryn and James boarded quickly and tossed themselves into the back bench seat.
“Where are we going?” Marcy said. Cathryn had only heard her say one short thing before. Now she noticed her voice, which sounded like heavy eyelids and Manhattans and velvet cushions. Marcy looked back at Cathryn.
“Oh. Uh, one seventy-two Hamilton Avenue.”
“One seventy-two Hamilton Avenue?” said the driver’s voice, which at first impression belonged to a woman probably over forty.
“Yes,” Cathryn said, as loudly as was reasonable.
After a few moments of the driver and Marcy entering things into electronic devices, the van started to move.
Marcy extended her hand back to Cathryn. “Hello, fellow dictionary entry.”