Cars zoomed by on the street. Each one going somewhere special. Somewhere important. I didn't know where I was going. No Rooster. No home. No family, that's for sure. I was alone. I spotted a flash of yellow and I stuck my arm out, flagging the taxi down. The cab pulled up the curb almost knocking my off my feet. I backed up a few paces as I opened the door.
"Where to, sweet thing?"
The man behind the wheel was disgusting. He was fat and bulging out of his ratty little shirt. I would've been nice to him. I swear I would've; only I was too tired. I was too tired to try and be someone I'm not.
"I said, where to?"
His voice now took on a sharp edge. I didn't know where I was going. I began to twirl a strand of hair around my finger, a nervous habit of mine. I was thinking about my destination when something just bubbled up inside me.
"65th and 8th, please."
I didn't realize what I said until the taxi lurched forward. What was I doing? What was wrong with me? No one was home. Most likely his house was broken into. There would probably be someone else living in it. For all I know, he's still locked up. Sing Sing? Most likely.
I pressed my head against the dirty window. My curls twisted this way and that. His old bag lay at my feet. He had given me that bag before they took him away. Before they took me away. I kept my clothes in there. I kept what money I had in there. I kept all of my belongings in there. Pretty much my whole world was in that bag. I leaned down and pulled it close to me. I didn't want to let go.
The sun dipped behind the buildings as we made our way through the maze of a city. Every stop and go of the car made my heart pound. I was nervous and excited. Nervous about what I would find. Excited in the hope that he might have gotten out. He had gotten out for good behavior before, but he never did anything this bad. He had gotten it the worst. Hannigan and me only got 1 year. It seemed like a long time to me, but I realized we had gotten off easy. Rooster was sentenced to 30 years. 30 whole years.
My eyes closed. I only meant to rest for my eyes for a second, but a sudden stop of the taxi threw me forward. My bag flew somewhere and my eyes bolted open.
"Here we are, Miss. That'll be…."
He didn't get to finish. I threw some amount of money at him. It all landed in his face and he sort of sat there in stunned silence. I grabbed my bag and slowly climbed out of the car. He had dropped me a good 20 blocks from the apartment. I turned around and was about to ask him to drive me the extra blocks, but the man took off. Men, I really do hate them.
The streets were still somewhat crowded at this time of night, though it wasn't a good time for ladies like me to walking around. My heels clicked innocently against the concrete. I buried my head in my collar, hoping to not draw attention to myself. The last thing I needed was some creep to try and pick me up. No thank you.
I almost walked past the apartment. I expected a huge neon sign hanging outside saying, "THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE'S OLD APARTMENT." I don't know what I was thinking. But as I stared at my old home, I realized it looked the same if not better. I walked right up to the door and almost fainted. It was all too real. What if he answered the door? A shiver ran through my body.
I knocked cautiously at first. Even I couldn't hear the knock. And so I knocked harder and waited. My heart skipped a beat at the creaking of stairs. I thought I was going to die as I heard the lock turning. And I melted on the spot when he opened the door.
"Oh, Rooster!" I leapt into his arms. How I missed him.
The two fell backwards into the hallway. Lily giggled and got up, not caring about her wrinkled dress or her lopsided hat. Butterflies were flitting around in her stomach. Just as the man got up he stared at her face to face.
"Gwah! What?!? You're… You're… You're not Rooster."
Lily stared at the man before her. He looked like Rooster in every way possible. He was lanky and tall. He had the same hair and almost the same mustache, but his eyes. Oh, those eyes. Rooster's eyes were all different colors. Sometimse they appeared brown, but they were blue and green all at the same time. But this man before her had gray eyes. Just boring old gray eyes.
"You're not Rooster."
She slumped against the wall. Her hands shaking. This couldn't be happening. Was she dreaming? Instinctively she pinched herself and was immediately disappointed at the fact that she did not wake up. This was real.
The man sat down beside her. He looked so much like him it was scary.
"I don't know a Rooster, but I do know that you're a pretty lady who's in need of some good 'ole coffee. Would you like to come upstairs? I'm Eddy by the way." He extended his hand to her as he stood up.
Lily stared up at this man as she gingerly held onto his hand. With little effort, he pulled her up. He was so like Rooster. She read about this once. The mind believes what it wants to believes. Maybe this Eddy didn't look anything like Rooster. Maybe she was just imagining it all. But she was hungry, and thirsty, and not to mention tired. A cup of coffee did sound nice. She followed him up the rickety stairs to Rooster's old apartment.
Eddy opened the door and Lily nearly fainted. It looked exactly the same as it had been the last time she was here. A little gasp escaped her mouth. It was all too real.
"All of this," she motioned her hands around the room, "isn't yours, right?" It couldn't be Eddy's.
"No. Well yes. It's sort of complicated, dear. I'll heat up some Joe and you," he moved a chair to accommodate her, "can sit right here."
Eddy hurried off to the dingy kitchen. Lily could hear the burners firing up, the sound of the coffee being poured into the pot. Memories flooded her mind of when Rooster would make her coffee on a cold, winter night. They'd sit on the fire escape all wrapped together under a blanket. He would tell her stories and…. Eddy placed a warm mug in her hands.
"Here you go, dearie. Oh, I didn't quite catch your name." He sat opposite her across the table.
"Lily. Lily St. Regis." Her voice was barely a whisper. It was just so difficult, and she just couldn't shake the feeling of how weird this all was. Before she could control her mouth it slipped out. "How did you get this apartment? Why are you even here? You don't own this." Her own gloved hand covered her mouth the minutes the words slipped out. But Eddy simply laughed.
"Well, it's very nice to meet you, Ms. Regis. And it's a long story. Are you sure you want to hear all the tedious details? I mean, I just met you. I don't want to give you the impression that I'm a bore."
"No, I want to know. If you tell me your story I'll tell you mine. It's only fair."
Eddy nodded in agreement, and downed the last of his coffee.
"Well, here goes."