As they drove away Celeste reached into her mind for some tangible evidence as to why/how this could all be happening. Nothing came to mind at first, then she remembered bits and pieces of what was written in the book about the hotel.
“Allen, I need to do some serious online research and look some things up in the library too!! I need to get a good notebook and” Celeste began.
“I have extra notebooks and pens/pencils in the trunk. I’ll get you all set up! But you need secure internet and that’s not easy on a phone or at the library where they monitor every key stroke”, Allen grimaced.
Celeste nodded a silent thank you as she played with the $1 in her pocket. “Could we stop so I can get a drink? I have a dollar left and I’m so thirsty!!”
“You seriously only have a dollar to your name? Celeste, why didn’t you tell me??” Allen asked then, realizing he’d been yelling, softened his voice, “The paper has a salary for you. We need to get you set up with a checking account.”
Hearing this Celeste realized she was like an alien from some distant planet out in space. “We understand each other completely”, Celeste thought then asked, “Can you and I schedule time in a very secure location to have a long talk?”
“Yes . . you sound really stressed! What happened back there? Let’s stop at Big Boy for coffee and a bite to eat. We can talk there. I do many informant interviews there and haven’t had a problem yet.”, Allen replied.
“Ok, that would be perfect . . I sure appreciate you coming for me in the middle of the night! You’ll need a good notebook for this talk.”, Celeste said. “After so many years in that basement I feel like a duck out of water! What has happened to the world? At this point I wouldn’t be surprised if people began wearing jellyfish as hats.”
As Allen and Celeste pulled into Big Boy’s parking lot Celeste took a long deep breath and looked around. It was a quiet location with only a few nondescript cars in the lot. Celeste glanced at Allen and realized their camaraderie enhanced her happiness and she silently prayed they would always be so close. As they climbed out of the car Allen’s talk of eggplant parmesan reverted her thoughts to food and reminded her how long it had been and all she’d done since she’d eaten.
“They don’t have eggplant so maybe I’ll get chicken parmesan,” Allen stated. “What are you craving?”
“A plate of spaghetti and meatballs, like a huge garnet with gold bands sticking out around the edges!!”, Celeste giggled.
Allen put a possessive hand over hers across the table and simply sat there and smiled at her. His giggly girl was fun. He had forgotten how her giggle affected him. “Yes, golden spaghetti with ruby sauce you shall have m’lady!!”, and he pretended to tip his hat sending her into another fit of giggles.
The waitress took their order and brought steaming cups of fresh coffee. Allen pulled out a notepad and pen and laid these quietly on the table. He folded back the first few blank pages then turned his attention back to Celeste.
Slowly and quietly (almost to the point of inaudible whisper at times) Celeste began to explain all that had happened to, pausing briefly after each segment to make sure he fully understood all she’d seen and heard and to answer any questions he had. She shared what the clerk had said about the dissolution of the orphanage, what the book said and what the apparition had said. Celeste told Allen that the apparition had objurgated her to leave immediately for her own safety but that she’d ventured to the lobby first to find the clerk dancing and singing that terrible song! The possibility of eating her had been a quickening to that crazed clerk who’d drooled and danced in anticipation!
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