Darren/Jaime and New Vinny
Jessica had email when she checked yesterday morning (after I was finished using the computer to report on Friday's activities); it was from Darren, who seemed eager to meet us. He left a cell phone number, Jessica called, and then it was back into the city.
We had a late breakfast, and it was kind of a relief to see someone who had been changed by the inn who looks as uncomfortable in his or her new skin as I feel. I don't mean that as an insult, Darren - I'm not taking pleasure in your discomfort. It's just, one meets someone like Mark/Ginessa or even Ashlyn, and while on the one hand it's good to know that feeling strange won't last forever, on the other, one has to fear losing who he or she is.
Jaime's a pretty girl, and Darren is very self-conscious about it. She's another blonde, although she's got a little more meat on her bones than Vinessa has as Nicoleta. She's got nice clothes, too - even the simple cami and shorts Darren wore to meet us had designer labels. She's fairly pretty, and probably would have been extremely attractive if Darren had worn some makeup. I think, though, that not doing so was deliberate - coming to meet us was a chance to not have to play the part of Jaime.
We talked for a while; I didn't know anything about the inn that he hasn't already read here, or spoken to Arthur about. He did seem very relieved to find out that there are other transformees right here in New York; I can't say I blame him - the first time I met Jean-Michel, I felt the same way. We gave him contact information for Mark/Ginessa and Vinessa/Nicoleta, although I don't think he's really prepared for what meeting Mark might be like.
Still, I think it might do them all a little good to meet up; Darren and Vinessa share the same sense of desperation about them, and even with the language barrier, having someone to share with couldn't hurt. Maybe Darren can even use some of Jaime's connections - either at the paper or with her family - to do a little digging on Vinessa's behalf.
We opted against playing tourist for the rest of the afternoon, instead opting to take the train back to Long Island to see if knocking on Vinny DeSantis's door would yield us anything, and it did.
Nothing pleasant, though. When we got to his place, one of his roommates opened the door, and there was a smell that came out of the apartment. I nearly gagged, and gave Jessica a slightly accusing look. "Hey, I grew out of that a long, long time ago." The guy gave us at least a twice-over, and then called for Vinny.
The man was hung over, and I get the feeling that "new" Vinny wasn't particularly different from "old" Vinny, and if so, well, I kind of hope he was learning something from his experience as Sarah Hansen.
I get the feeling he may have had quite the lesson - when we showed "new" Vinny a picture of Sarah, asking if they were in contact, he said maybe that had been in contact, if you get his meaning - he and a group of his friends met her and a group of hers at a concert back during spring break, and they'd been drinking fairly heavily. Both Jessica and I disapproved of the talk of multiple partners that night, although he didn't know if he and that girl were one of the pairings.
We tried to get him to come talk to us someplace that was a little more private (and sanitary), but he didn't seem to get the message. Toward the end, I began to suspect that he wasn't quite so hung over as he appeared - he was able to deflect any questions we had about who he was before his trip to the inn. Truth be told, he never actually admitted to having been someone other than Vinny DeSantis. Afterward, I asked Jessica if maybe he really thought he was and had always been Vinny, but she said she doubted it. Sure, there had been times when she thought her previous life was something she'd just made up in her head, but it took her a couple years to get to that point.
It looks like we've found all we're going to find in New York. It seems like sort of a bust to me, but Jessica doesn't quite agree. There's something funny about Mark & Vinessa's sudden visa troubles, she thinks, and funny things like that are seldom coincidences.
Anyway, it's time to put this machine away and get back on the road. Jessica originally hails from Baltimore, so I imagine we'll be stopping there on the way to Washington, D.C.