"DOROTHY!!! DOROTHY WAYNERIGHT!!!" Her name was heard over and over again. She walked out onto the balcony at twilight. She looked over the edge and found Max on the cement, walking around and screaming her name with his arms extended. In one hand he happened to have something. She quickly went inside and onto the elevator.
"Dorothy, where are you going?" asked Norman.
"Going to see a friend." The gate closed and down she went.
She reached the first floor, and stepped off. Outside, Max had waited for her, out of breath and a little hoarse. "Dorothy" was enough to show that he sounded funny. He cleared his throat before he said any more.
"You should have worn a scarf. You'll catch a cold."
"Dorothy," he uttered, "this...is for you." He handed her a beautiful wooden music box. He opened it and a little ballerina in pink twirled as the music played. She took it and looked at it as she held it against her abdomen.
"You are Tomas, aren't you?" He stayed silent. "Answer the question, Max."
"Well, yes and no, it's...hard to explain." He threw his hands up in the air. "Aw, well you spoiled the surprise." He laughed to himself. Dorothy didn't feel like laughing, even if she could.
"Dorothy," he declared as he held her hands, which were on the music box, and looked into her eyes with his olive-green ones, "I like you, a lot. I have a great appreciation for your talent, and a great affection for you. I haven't stopped thinking about you since the other night." He squeezed her hands tighter. "Please consider going out with me sometime, have dinner or something."
"You do understand that I am not one of you."
"That really does not matter to me. Call me a freak if you wish, but I do not care. Please Dorothy." Just then, the Griffon passed by, and Roger's sunglasses peaked out of the window. The car never stopped.
"Max, thank you for everything, but ...for reasons I cannot explain, but I am afraid I cannot accept your invitation. Ever." She pushed his hands back down to his sides as she gave him back the box. He looked at her in sadness, but then quickly nodded.
"That's quite alright." He backed up. "I guess I'll see you then. Good-bye Dorothy." He turned and headed off into the twilight.
He could feel his heart sink over and over. He told himself he didn't care, but he knew he was lying to himself. Someone else wanted her, and it was him...he didn't want to let her go, and not just because she sought his permanent protection.
Roger finally reached the final floor and stepped off the elevator. He saw Norman speaking on the phone, and then look at him.
"Why he just stepped in...yes one moment." He paced up to him, cordless phone in hand.
"Master Roger, there is a Joseph Harlow on the phone." He grabbed it out of his hand.
"Thanks Norman. Hello. Yes... I'll be right over." He wrote down an address on a notepad and hung up. "Norman, I'm heading out. Don't bother getting dinner for me, I'll be late enough as it is."
The winds were picking up as the Negotiator approached the park. There were no longer any children playing, just couples strolling through. He spotted the balding old man sitting on a bench by the artificial pond. Roger sat next to him, cross-legged.
"Good to see you again, Mr. Smith. I have been waiting a long time to tell you. I chose this location because I do not even feel safe in my own home. You see, Mr. Smith, my nephew, Max, has been acting very strangely lately."
"The young fair-haired man from the party?"
"Yes." Something fell to the pit of his stomach. What would Dorothy think?
"I feel that he is not my nephew."
"You mean he isn't acting the way he used to." He made it a statement.
"No, I have a feeling he is an imposter. In fact, I'm sure of it. Please, if you can, do the job, and tell him to bring me back my nephew. He is like the son I never had. Anything he wants, he can have. I'll pay you handsomely."
"Look, I don't believe just giving him anything would settle this case, but we can discuss ransom later. Right now, we'll just have to figure out who is this imposter and what he's all about." Roger got up. "I'll let you know as soon as possible." He walked off.
Wow, an imposter. And to think Dorothy was fooled by him. It hurt him once more to see that snake's hands all over hers, fake sugary eyes looking into hers. Why did he want her? He wanted to hit him, or somehow hurt him. But he needed to stick to business.
Something was truly wrong with this Max guy. He recalled coming out of the flower shop and seeing him talking to himself. He decided it was time to visit the Speakeasy.
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