Or a pair of words. Something like "ancestor" and "descendant". You can form a chain between Louisa and me: Jeremy became me, Nell became Jeremy, I (as Liz) became Nell, Liz (as Marie) became herself again, and Louisa becomes Marie. I don't know if that makes us any closer than two random visitors to the Inn, but maybe there is. We acted like there was when she came up this weekend; our situation can be an isolating one, so we try and find any connection we can. The reflexive disbelief upon meeting another person changed by the Inn was a little less strong this time; I'm pretty sure it's beacuse seeing her confirmed that the woman I saw waiting to check in was, in fact, Liz-as-Marie, so she at least had a face I'd seen before.
Louisa's been flying solo for the past couple weeks, with Jessica having headed home for the holidays. She's sort of in limbo right now, still waiting to hear back about the original Marie's whereabouts and having trouble renting an apartment in L.A. without a long-term visa. I told her the U.S. should be grateful to have a Canadian who wants to move here with the current economic and political climate, rather than vice versa. She makes a comment about bureaucrats just wanting to make everyone jump through hoops. She's checked into a residential hotel, worried about how quickly that will drain her finances. She's starting a new job on the recommendation of "Parker Costello" this week, but won't really be comfortable until the sale on the house she inherited closes.
She tells me all about Nell, and I'm glad to hear that she really is doing well in her new life. She's curious about meeting the original Jeremy, but I don't want any part of that, and try to convince her not to. He's a jerk, so why taint your impressions of either me or Nell by getting any first-hand experience with him? Well, she says, maybe I've been hanging around Jessica too long and her paranoia is rubbing off on me, but isn't it kind of strange that Jeremy bailed on the trip to switch back at the last minute, sending Nell and R.J. instead?
Yep. I can't say I haven't been thinking of that, ever since they told us about Pygmalion being more than a stalker. I've put off asking directly, because I didn't want anything to do with Jeremy, but because I was a little afraid of the answer. I didn't want to be a chump. Or at least not a total chump; as much as I was the victim of Jeremy deciding to keep my life, the idea that someone had been laughing at what I didn't know was... well, something I'd rather not know about.
Louisa's right, though. If we want to find out answers, we can't hide from them, no matter where they may be.
So, it being Saturday night, we head to one of the bars I've heard "Arthur" hangs out at. Our luck's good, since we find him on the first try. Which is a bit of a relief for both of us; neither of us is really comfortable with the bar scene, and this place is a big-time meat market. Louisa comments that at least I can say I have a boyfriend to anyone who hits on me; I say not so much. Neither Drew nor I is seeing anybody else, but his (that is, R.J.'s) practice is picking up, I work a lot of nights. We still see each other on a regular basis, but it's not really a thing. Louisa says she might actually think about dipping her toe into the pool, but the age thing is though for her to get past. Men her apparent age are all children to her, and she's kind of disturbed by Mindy/Carson having a child's mind but an adult's urges.
But, I digress. We find Jeremy at the bar, and each get on one side of him. He looks at Louisa and smiles, but that fades when he spots me. "What do you want?"
I smile at him, because it will get me into less trouble than ripping out his spleen. "We're wondering if there's something you're not telling us."
Louisa doesn't bother with the sweet smile. "We're wondering if you've had any contact with people who knew about the Inn aside from us."
"What? No! If not for you, I might think I'd always been Arthur Milligan. Dorky name you saddled me with, by the way."
I snorted, so Louisa continued. "I've got a little more faith in people than Penny here does. I don't think you'd just screw her over like you did for no reason. Did someone offer you something?"
"Some fed came and visited me after I made the reservation. Asked if I'd had any contact with... well, with me. Went on about deserters in a time of war, scared me real good. Then the next night I get drunk, strike out with Nell, take a bit of crap from her boyfriend..."
I think he's actually looking for me to feel sorry for him. "Do you remember the fed's name?"
"It was almost a year ago!"
Even though Louisa doesn't look her age, she still knows how to give the look that keeps you from lying to your grandparents. "Jeremy. How many times has the FBI come to talk to you? I'm sure you'd remember the details."
Jeremy's looking at her, so I don't see the expression on his face, which is probably for the best.
"Langan. Something Langan."
I shouldn't be surprised, but I am. "Son of a bitch!" I storm out, and Louisa follows me.
I'm pacing back and forth when she makes her way through the bar. "So much for my faith in humanity. Jessica knew he was dirty."
"But why? Why me? Why me and not everyone else who tries this?"
Louisa doesn't know. Maybe Pygmalion just didn't have the resources to screw things up for Jeff, or Liz, or other folks. Maybe he finds Jeremy interesting or useful and was defending that. Maybe it's something else we can't see because he's the only one who knows the whole pattern.
It doesn't really matter. Someone's been using my life as a toy, and it ticks me off.