Paris. The city of love, of romance and she was almost there, just a few stop and a fanfare of screeching breaks would announce the arrival of Miss Tanya Fay, New York’s most elusive model. Betsy crowed into the window beside her, their bodies juddering in time with the train as the French country side slipped past, snow still deep on the ground, hiding any indication of the past thirty years from the passengers.
“Mademoiselle, perhaps you and your comapinon would like the come back inside the carrige?”
She turned to find the conducter stood behind them. Polite smile firmly in place as the rest of the carrige shot them dark looks from behind books and newspapers.
“I’m afraid the cold is coming in,” he explained. “Some of the other passengers have complained.”
“Oh let them!” laughed Betsy, pulling Tanya towards the window again. “Who are they to complain about us?”
Eleanor Fallaway knew very little about art. What she did know was how to lie to a very convincing level.
“Well,” said her boss, making his way around the empty podiums stationed throughout his museum. “It’s certainly interesting.”
“It’s exactly what’s needed to launch ourselves into this previously untapped market,” Eleanor grinned, “A real head-turner. Did you know that ninety percent of teenagers don’t even know that art museums still exist!”
“Really?” Her boss’s eyes widened. “You don’t say?”
“Oh I do!” Eleanor nodded enthusiastically.
“And this will bring them in will it?” he asked, gazing at the podium critically.
“When the models are installed they will come flocking,” she assured him.
“Good,” he said, turning to walk back to his office. “Oh, by the way,” he paused and glanced back. “What was it called again?”
“The extraordinary within the ordinary,” Eleanor replied.
“Hum,” nodded her boss. “Original.”
“You’ve never asked my name?” she said, head tipped back and eyes on the cracked ceiling. “Then again I’ve never asked yours.”
Jamie frowned, eyebrows scurrying to knit together as the lax, loose-jaw gaze puckered and pulled into something close to concentration.
“What?” he croaked, spittle catching on chapped lips.
“I mean it’s not your fault,” she continued. “It’s not as if you’re the only one who doesn’t ask. No one does. They all think they already know.”
She waved a hand, fingers blurring across Jamie’s vision and whisking away whatever words he’d been about to attempt.
“Hush now,” she soothed. “It doesn’t matter anymore does it? Hum? I’m not going to niggle you about something as silly as a name. Why should I? It’s not my job!”
Jamie’s chin dropped, thudding against his chest.
“I know what my job is,” she carried on. “I’m here to be used.”
“Just told his attention.” Tom said. “Don’t let it stay back to us.”
Those had been the instructions, passed over with the six inch heels and the crimson dress.
“Isn’t this-” I held the fabric between thumb and forefinger, thinking that even that pinch-full covered too large of a proportion. “Isn’t this all a little clichéd?”
Tom shrugged, collar turned up and fedora pulled low over his brow.
“Maybe” he said. “But that ain’t the point; the point is that I don’t want that geezer looking our way. Not while me and the boys are sorting the business.”
My lips curled and pursed.
“I don’t want to hear it doll.” snapped Tom. “I told ya what I want doin’. Now get to it. You gotta keep that boy transfixed!”
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“You think me old?” asked the man whose folds could tell you of booted feet in bog soaked trenches, too numb from cold to tell when the rot set in.
“You think me old?” asked the man who’d watched women in polka dot men twirl on the arms of boys not fated to come home again.
“You think me old?” asked the man who’d once held books with more care than that which he’d showed to the new born babe passed from his wife’s arms. The man who matched each title to the lines etched in his face and called each new one a moment more of knowledge.
“You think me old?” asked the man. “I am as old as what I have learnt, and what is left for me to learn marks me but a babe.”