"Looking for somebody?" the old man asked.
Rudy fell back on his smile, though he knew it didn't always work on men. "Yes, I have a letter to deliver."
He pulled a folded piece of paper from his inside coat pocket to show, then tucked it quickly back before the janitor could reach for it.
"Yeah? To who?"
"Mrs. Carter. I was told to leave it in her dressing room."
"I'll see she gets it."
"No. The gentleman said I was to deliver it myself, to slip it under the door. If you'd tell me which door?"
The janitor shrugged. "That way, turn right, second door on your left."
Rudy thanked him and walked slowly down the hall, noticing everything, the outdated posters still pasted to the walls, the chalkboard with names and times scribbled in columns, the row of mailboxes, the mingled smells of wax and ammonia and paint and sweat.
When he reached her door, he glanced back to see if the old man was watching. There was no one in sight. Quickly he turned the handle, praying the door wasn't locked. It wasn't. He slipped into the room, then stopped, his heart racing.
A mirror reflected back his flushed face and his wide eyes. The dressing table beneath the mirror was covered with small silver lidded jars, mirrors, combs, brushes, ribbons, and black lace gloves. A hair ornament of feathers hung from an upper corner of the mirror, its clasp gleaming with stage jewels. He tried to memorize it all. Then he turned slowly, taking in the dresses on the rack one at a time, gowns of shimmering silk and heavy beadwork.
Her trunk stood open, the drawers pulled parkway out, scarves and lace collars tossed carelessly about in them. Beyond that was a standing screen, its wooden frame badly chipped, its woven cloth panels torn loose at the edges.
Over it hung layers of petticoats, heavy with embroidery and ruffles. He considered filling his arms with them, burying his face in the frills, but was unable to move.
A voice said softly, "What do you want, boy?"
Rudy swung around, his mouth open in a silent scream of shock, and saw her, Mrs. Leslie Carter, sitting on a small divan in the shadow of the open door. Her hair flamed around her, tumbling over her shoulders and nearly to her waist. Her face was like a wax doll's, pale and perfectly formed. He could see nothing more of her beneath the white silk dressing gown except her hands. She held a sheaf of pages in one and reached out to him with the other.
"I'm sorry," he stammered. "I'm in the wrong room."
"Are you? Whose room are you looking for?"
"I - I -" He tried to remember any name of the rest of the play's cast. He'd read the billboards completely, knew every name, and now they all deserted him.
"I think you were looking for my room," she said.
So she had seen him, night after night, standing in the alley, watching her leave. He had not been vain enough to think she would remember and now he realized he'd been wrong.
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