Edwin Balder stumbled back to his apartment building, the wind from the estuary blowing in his face the whole time. Edwin hated the wind. It burned the sore spots on his face where the mugger had punched and slapped him. His stomach hurt too. What once had been pangs of hunger had turned into good old pain. Edwin had, by his own estimation, had enough of the day. But the day had just begun, he reasoned. Fine. Then he’d had enough of the previous day, and certainly wasn’t getting on very well with the new one. Edwin stopped in front of his building and looked up into the night sky. The single star was gone. Fucking helicopter, he thought. Then he took out his key and walked into the foyer, which smelled of cigarette smoke. Fucking Superintendent Isaiah Sheppard.
“Oh my God, Edwin are you all right,” Molly Brown said. Edwin looked up and there she sat on a pink marble bench. Molly had a long black coat on and her hair was pulled back. He looked at her long nose. She looked nothing like Barbra Streisand, Edwin thought. Not that Babs was a bad looking lady at damn near seventy. Edwin Balder could admit freely to himself a small amount of jealousy toward one James Brolin.
“I’m fine,” Edwin said. Still, Molly got up from the bench and took ahold of Edwin’s arm. His first reaction was to pull back; too many immediate memories of Ivan and the mugger. But when he realized that it was only the unsinkable Molly Brown, Edwin loosened his body and let her help him up to the pink bench.
“Who did this to you?”
“I was mugged,” Edwin said.
“Up the street.”
Molly sat next to Edwin. She pulled her coat tighter, as if it were a blanket. “Really? I thought that this neighborhood was safe.”
“It isn’t,” Edwin said. “Nowhere is safe in Idiot America.”
Edwin turned to Molly. “I don’t mean to scare you. It was nothing. It was random. My glasses didn’t even fall off.”
“What did he take?” Molly said.
“Seven dollars. And then he berated me for not having a cellular phone.”
“You don’t have a cell phone?”
Edwin shrugged. “I couldn’t even tell you at this point. Stubbornness? A general distaste for the current zeitgeist?”
“Have you seen what some of those phones can do?” Molly said.
“Oh cruel night!” Edwin shouted into the near empty hallway. He turned away from Molly Brown, bent over, and put his head in his hands.
“Edwin, can I get you anything?” He felt Molly put a hand on his back. “Like water or a drink?”
Edwin lifted his head, his mood instantly brightened. Molly removed her hand from his back. “Do you want to come inside and listen to Gershwin? I think I still have some scotch left.”
Molly smiled a sad smile. “I can’t. I’m leaving.”
“No, silly. I just moved here. I’m going away to visit my family.”
“Where do they live?” Edwin asked.
“Rochester,” Molly said.
“My God! Why would anyone willingly travel there? It’s damned good that you got away from that place. Don’t go back, Molly. They’ll suck you in with all of their folksy Rust Belt voodoo and then you won’t know Knut Hamsun from D.H. Lawrence.”
“I don’t know them now.” Molly smiled at Edwin. “Rochester is nice. It’s home. Don’t you miss home, Edwin?”
“Maybe,” Edwin said. “When a Jefferson Airplane songs comes on the jukebox, or I catch Easy Rider on the television.”
“So you understand what I mean.”
“I understand most everything to a degree,” Edwin said. “How long will you be gone?”
“Eleven days,” Molly said.
“Eleven days? Is there some kind of mathematical code in the arbitrary set of days that you’ve chosen?”
Molly laughed. “You crack me up.”
“I’m serious. I love mathematical codes. I’ve watched Good Will Hunting more times that I can count.”
“I’ve never seen it.”
“How could you not?” Edwin said. “Ben Affleck. Matt Damon. Surely you had some sort of crush on them.”
“They’re old,” Molly said.
“They’re in my relative age group. They’re not old.”
“Well, how old are you, Edwin?”’
“I refuse to say now,” Edwin said. “How old are you?”
“Twenty-one,” Molly said.
“My God!” Edwin shouted for the second time in the near empty hallway. “You’re a child.”
“I’m an adult.”
“I can drink,” Molly said.
“You can’t even rent a car.”
“So. That’s why I call for cars.”
“I thought you were at least twenty-two. Twenty-three tops.”
“As if that would make a difference,” Molly said. She put her hand on Edwin’s. “How old are you?”
“Thirty-eight,” Edwin said, sadly.
“You don’t look thirty-eight.”
“I have gray hair.”
“True,” Molly said. “But it’s wavy and kind of trendy.”
“That’s exactly the look I was going for!”
“Well, you’ve achieved it.”
They were silent a moment. “What about school?” Edwin asked. “Won’t you miss school while you’re in Rochester?”
“Just a couple of classes,” Molly said. “I’ve already spoken to the professors, and I have work that I’ll be doing up there.”
“What do you study?”
“Ah, preparing to take Wall Street by storm, are you?” Edwin said.
“Something like that.” Molly looked at Edwin. “Are you sure you’re all right?”
“What? These bruises? It takes more than some technocrat with a knife to wound Edwin Balder.”
“I didn’t think so.”
“What about the boyfriend, Molly. Won’t you miss him?”
“Matthew? I…we need some time away from each other.”
“I thought that was the reason for the apartment.”
“I mean geographically away from each other,” Molly said.
Just then a car pulled up in front of the building. It was long and black, not a limo, but not far from it. The driver didn’t honk, just idled there.
“That’s for me,” Molly said.
“Very fancy,” Edwin said.
“Yeah.” Molly stood up and grabbed her bag. It had been resting to the left of her, and Edwin had not noticed it until that moment.
He stood. “Well, I guess this is goodbye then.”
“For eleven days,” Molly said.
She leaned in and gave him a quick hug. “Take care of yourself while I’m gone, Edwin Balder.”
“I will,” Edwin said.
Molly grabbed her bag and walked toward the first set of glass doors. Edwin, though sore, ran ahead and opened it for her. He watched as Molly walked down the steps and out the second set of glass doors. She turned to Edwin and waved, and then turned back and walked over to the long, black car. A faceless driver was there to greet her. He was a shroud as well, Edwin thought, as he continued to stand there. Perhaps Molly would turn back and wave a second time. But she did not. The driver opened up the backdoor on the passenger side, and Molly Brown got in. Then the driver got in and they drove away, leaving Edwin Balder in the brightly lit foyer, the one still smelling a bit like cigarette smoke.
Blood Drips will be on a break until monday march 28th....aproximately 11 days from now.