Chapter 12: Her
I got into the taxi with him, careful not to get my cape caught up in the door. I worked on it for over a month, there was no way I was going to let it get dirty on its first outing. Cassandra and Jenny would be fine for one evening without me and I promised I would be home before 11, because I really hate being out at night, especially in foreign places. However, this is the city that never sleeps, so why should I? Gosh, I had to have been out of my mind, writing that. I love sleep more than breathing.
He was clad very dashingly in an old-fashioned 3-piece suit. He looked like he had walked right out of a Charles Dickens' novel and I was very impressed that he even got his hair and shoes right. This man knew how to do things right, as authentically as they could possibly be.
We didn't talk at all in the taxi, not for lack of things to talk about apparently, once we got to the ball, there was that very rude friend of his standing with a young lady who would have done well not to have worn so much blush. Her face looked like a bright red tomato. I was not impressed at how he was holding her arm, or how he looked at me when Mr. McPherson opened the door for me. I stuck my nose up in the air in the snootiest way I possibly could as we walked up to him.
"Good evening." I said coldly.
"Good evening, Miss Rein." He answered, proudly showing off his girl, "I would like you to meet Melissa."
"A pleasure." I bowed my head to her, and she bowed her head in return before speaking.
"It's, like, wonderful to meet you! You're, like, quite the, like, scandal around the office, like, all the time." Oh gosh. I shudder even now at that voice. She was the ultimate Valley Girl. It was all I could do not to run screaming down the street. Now that I look back on that night, I see really clearly that I was set up like a clown in a ring. I was set up with a stalker, a Valley Girl, and a jerk. This evening would not go well, I was sure of it, and yet, I was supposed to make the audience laugh.
We walked up the stairs, and into the ballroom. I've seen a lot of parties in my time, but this was really old-timey. An ancient chandelier was hanging far above us, and the food was set all in crystal, nothing packaged, no potato chips, nothing highly processed or artificially flavored. Not even soda was to be found on that buffet table. It was really amazing.
The outfits had a very broad range. There must have been some kind of limit on the dates for the outfits, since I did not see a costume that belonged outside of the pre-1920s. There were many people there, all very well dressed for authenticity, with varying levels. There were a few young men who were attempting to pull off a decent bootlegger outfit, but threw it all off by wearing Puma sneakers with it. Sheer disrespect, disregard and erroneous behavior on their part. By now you must think I get annoyed with everything, but I must say that I am not alone in this: inauthentic behavior is a disregard for the time and a disrespect for the people who wore the outfit before. This makes it very wrong and I would have liked very much at that moment to smack those idiots upside the head and throw them out. But it was not my party and I was dressed like a lady, corset and all.
I tried very desperately to not talk to people, but everywhere I turned, people recognized my face.
"Didn't I see you on the news?"
"I hear your hotel burned down, you must be devastated!"
"Dude, you rocked that debate."
"You are an utter disgrace to your generation, behaving like that to your elder!"
And so it went on. People are often amazed at how quickly I can cut through a crowd. I am often amazed myself. People shut up very quickly when I speak, and I'm still trying, even after all these years, to control what it is that I say, trying desperately not to kill someone for being stupid. Those that would insult me find out immediately that I don't take their tone, but flash it right back at them, making them eat their words. Others, that would complement me genuinely, find that I am extremely polite, but very blunt. And still others, like that Thomas man, learn that I bite hard when I'm flattered, as you have seen before. He didn't give up. The whole time, he was announcing to the whole room just how well he was doing at work, how much he and Mellissa worshiped me, and so on and so forth. I was getting very annoyed.
"I think your work is the best of them all, hands down, upon the internet today. No one can formulate a sentence in quite the same way you can."
"That's because I'm the one saying it." I muttered under my breath. Jack was very fond of ignoring me, looking around the room like he was expecting someone. He must have spotted them, for he took my arm very suddenly, and drove me across the dance floor towards a man.
"Sir! Mr. Daniels, sir." He said once we were close. I recognized the man from the room full of publishers.
"Good evening, Mr. McPherson." He replied cordially, looking very intently at me. "Who is this young lady?"
"Sir, I would like you to meet Miss Eliza Rein." He held my hand up so that I could curtsey without falling over.
"Good evening, Mr. Daniels." I said as politely as I could. Cassandra would get off my back if I got this guy to publish me. He's published all the best of my time, especially for such a stingy old guy.
"Yes, I believe we have met before, have we not, Miss Rein? A meeting a few days ago? Or was it just yesterday?"
"You flatter me, sir. Yes, we have met before. Please, forgive my actions and my words. I was very rash."
"Indeed you were. However, I have heard through the grape-vine that you have gotten a few books out to the public, without a publisher."
"Yes sir, I have. I took the liberty of passing out a few as payment to my greatest fans."
Mr. Daniels gestured to Jack. "Here stands your greatest fan of them all. Does he also have a copy?"
"Yes sir. He has won that honor. Very few stalkers are willing to traipse all over New York City for their idol, let alone converse with them on a bus bench."
"I see. You are looking for someone who knows what you drink and can make it then?"
"You've met Timothy!" Jack cut in.
"Of course. He's the best waiter on his street. He told me all about you. He claimed that you were extremely kind to him, when no one else at the table was. Is that your interpretation?"
"Yes sir." Jack said, before looking guilty, recognizing that the question was directed at me.
I thought very carefully before answering, picking my next words with great care. "My companions could have been a great deal more kind to Timothy, since they were often at the café and he knew them as soon as they walked in, as well as what they drink. I was a stranger, yet he treated me with the same care. He knew who I was, what I do, and what I drink. He did not worship me, flattering me with pretty words, nor did he insult me, trying to validate himself that I was not all that is said about me. He treated me politely. I attempted to do the same. Whether or not I succeeded is up to him."
"Well said, Miss Rein. Very well said." Mr. Daniels took my hand and bowed. "I'll be happy to publish that book of yours." He handed me his card. "Just send it to me."
"Yes sir!" I smiled happily. "I'll be sure to do that as soon as possible."
"Thank you." He walked away. I nearly fainted.
"Well, that went well." I said, trying to relax.