Thursday, August 14, 2014

"Sophie": Headcount

Knowing what's about to happen, I've been unable to help myself from keeping an eye on the other visitors to the Inn. I can't help but wonder what will become of them, who they'll be, how they'll react. If I'm not mistaken, the Inn houses 13 people, and so far I've seen about 9, mostly by hanging around the common area pretending to play on my phone.

The first person I encountered was an Asian-American girl named Jane Li, who had spent the summer backpacking across Europe and was taking a breather in Maine before heading home to New Jersey. She's in my (current) age bracket, and a bit taller than me, but I'm about 5'3 right now, so that doesn't tell you much. I wanted to press her for more information at that time, but she seemed pretty worn out from the flight.

Next to arrive was a German-speaking couple, seemingly in their 40's, with a preteen son. This troubled me somewhat. It's one thing for the fully-grown people to get caught up in this web, but those who haven't reached adulthood? I don't even want to think about it. As the father approached to ask some directions, I asked if he had ever been here before, and he responded "nein." He appeared to be the only one of the group who spoke English, although the kid didn't speak at all.

In fact, nobody else I've spoken to around here seems to have ever visited the Inn before, which makes me wonder what brought them here. Dumb luck? Sheer need for random bodies? Or is someone actively recruiting?

I wonder what I've gotten myself into by not simply taking Sophie's body and running for the hills. But I respect her so much, and appreciate the experiences I've had as her too much to treat her so cruelly. So if this is what it takes to do right by her, well, I'm in.

Other tenants so far include a newlywed couple who seem to have selected the Inn as their honeymoon spot (sigh) and a middle aged guy named Donald Lazar. He's an investor from Westchester, a sweaty, bloated guy with a voice like Moe from the Simpsons and a noticeable tanline on his ring finger. I noticed this when he sidled up to me and James at the bar last night. When I pointed it out, he chuckled.

"Well, the marriage has basically been over for years, y'know... the wife, she's an invalid, basically, never leaves the house, and I make a lotta business trips, so whatever I get up to when I'm out of the house, she doesn't ask, and I assure her she could do the same if she wants. But you know, who wants the hassle of the divorce?"

I hope something particularly cruel and unusual happens to him during his stay here.

I used my curfew of 11 PM as a way to get out of the situation, dragging James along, despite his protests. I asked if he seriously intended to spend another moment talking to that sleazy guy, and he said no, but he hated to be cooped up all the same. "Nobody else is around this Inn, what difference does it make?"

"I don't know!" I shot back, "It could mean the difference between getting the body meant for you, the one you've already peeked at, and getting the one in the next room over, somehow. This thing can't be an exact science, so whatever guidelines we can cram it into, shouldn't we? Should we make it harder for ourselves than it needs to be just to have a good time?"

He sighed "I know you're trying to do a good thing here, but me... I'm not getting the body I want anyway. I'm on vacation. I wanna have a little fun, stay out late, do some drinking."

"Hasn't this last year been enough of a vacation for you?" I said, exasperated.

"To be honest, it's been a lotta work," he said, as we headed back to the Inn, "I did Keisha's job as good as I could until I got fired. And living with Derek was not as much fun as it looks."

"You don't say," I said, "I thought I heard you say one time that you two... got up to some stuff."

"A little bit," he said, blowing a strand of Keisha's long dark hair out of his face, "Then things got weird, and we both kinda wound up with some bad feelings."

"You don't say," I said. I didn't pry for further details.

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