Claire looked at Eve in disbelief. What were the chances they would be here at the same time again, at this crazy time of night? And this anger, it made no sense. Claire wasn’t in the mood to hear it.
“Eve, this isn’t a good time to yell at me, I’ve had a tough few hours. You can sit if you decide to be cordial. Otherwise, please go away.” Claire’s voice sounded tired, not from lack of sleep, but rather, stress.
She watched as Eve sat and stared at her intently. Eve threw her purse on the table in front of her.
“So tell me your problem, Eve. But be nice.”
Eve dug through her purse, finding the two halves of the business card and pieced them together on the table. “This is yours, isn’t it?”
Claire’s eyes looked down at the puzzle pieces and nodded. She picked them up and noticed her handwriting, her personal phone number written on their backs. “How did you get this? I don’t remember…” Her recollection of the night she met Rachel played in her mind. “I gave this to Rachel, how did you get it?”
“She forgot it. I heard you talking.” She pointed to the booth behind Claire. “I listened to the two of you the first night I came here, she called you a Senator. I heard her say that you are an advocate for women’s issues. And I needed help. So I picked it up as I was leaving. You were my hope, Claire. So you must understand my disappointment, my anger when I called the number only to discover that it doesn’t exist. All my faith in you turned into despair.” Eve’s voice was growing with agitation. “Even after the two of you were so rude to me last night, I still couldn’t get you out of my mind.” A tear fell over her face. “Why? What possible reason would you have to carry around this fake promotion for something you’re not? Not that I ever bought into the Senator title. We all know that there are no women Senators.” Her head jerked with a little gurgle, a choke in her throat that convinced Claire of her agony. “The danger in your game is that there are people in trouble that might need someone like your fantasy character. I am one of those women, Claire. And I’m telling you that it was cruel of you. First, you accuse me of lying; now I learn it’s you who is the phony.” Her lips constricted to hold in her sounds of pain. Then she ended her lecture with, “Why?”
“I don’t understand any of what you’re saying, Eve.” Claire turned to the booth behind her, and patted the person’s shoulder to get his attention. “Sir, could you do me a favor? I don’t think my phone is working and I’m expecting an important call. Would you mind calling me for a test?” She handed the torn pieces of her card to the stranger. “Would you mind terribly? Here’s the number.”
Claire sat, her eyes fixed on Eve’s in a cold stare. Her phone sat on the table between the two of them. They waited, seconds went by.
The man doing the calling laughed, “Sorry, I misdialed. Let me try again.”
Both women stared at the phone as if it was alive. It had become an alien creature sitting between the two of them.
Then, the ringing made their phantom vibrate. Claire grabbed it and answered.
“Lady, I don’t see a problem.” The line went dead.
Claire turned and thanked him, taking back the pieces of her business card. Then she turned to Eve and smiled. “So, now who’s the phony?” She sat back in her seat. “Eve, you told us you were raped, you told us that you watched a crime take place, you used language we’d never heard before, you say strange things that I don’t understand. I wanted to believe your story, but none of it checked out. There is no Scarsborough Meadows. There is no Latino Town. There is no Conchita lady missing.”
“Excuse me ladies, Here are your scones. Right out of the oven.” Donna poured Claire some fresh coffee, and then raised the urn up high to pour for Eve. As before, thick brown liquid fell dramatically from above. “You ladies enjoy.” She scurried away to attend her other customers.
Claire leaned forward and peeked into Eve’s cup. “What was that?”
“I don’t know, some trick she’s learned.”
Claire poured cream into her cup and raised it for a sip. “I don’t usually use this stuff, but it’s rather good.” She leaned into the table and started in on Eve. “Come clean, lady. Who put you up to this? What the hell is your reason for this? God, just leave me alone. I don’t want any more confrontation tonight.” She put her head down to play with the stir stick. She knew Rachel wasn’t coming, there wasn’t any reason for her to be here at this ungodly hour.
“Come clean? God, Claire. What do I need to do to convince you?” Eve slid out of the booth and reached over to grab her bag. “I don’t believe we’re getting anywhere, it’s been nice.” She tugged at the side of her purse, tipping it so that its contents fell onto the table. “Damn it!” She began throwing her things inside, her anger intensified.
It was the big red font that caught Claire’s attention. While Eve was tossing her things back in her bag, Claire picked up the newspaper that had fallen out with the other items.
Interrupting, she blurted, “What is this, Eve?” She held the paper up, and pointed at the headline.
Eve glanced at it. “My God, I forgot about that. I bought it at the gas station a few hours ago.” Then she erupted with laughter. “Well, Ms. Fancy Pants. Looks like I have proof after all.” She sat again, and smiled. “Read it, Claire, and please read aloud so I can hear.”
Claire stared intently at the headline, then slowly raised her head to look at Eve. “I don’t speak Spanish.” Claire moved to the end of her booth so she could stand, and raised her hands in the air to make an announcement to the room. “Does anyone know Spanish in here? I need an interpreter.” She looked around, disappointed. There were no takers. She sat, somewhat frustrated.
Then, a man sitting in one of the alcoves stood and made his way to their table. “Ladies, what can I do for you?”
Claire handed him the paper and asked him to read the headliner article.
The man picked up the news paper and stood over them reading, translating. “Conchita – Still Missing.”
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