Gary walked over, laid a hand gently on her arm. “Something tells me you want to say something, but are afraid of how we’ll react.” He waited for her to look up, her worried eyes catching his. “Jane, how long have we known each other?”
Jane shrugged. “I don’t know — since I was a kid. Thirty years?”
“Exactly. I think I’ve heard it all from you before, there’s nothing you could say that would surprise me.” He turned to Arjie, his tall body still within the door frame. “Maybe you should — ”
“No, please stay.” She looked at Arjie, waved him into the office. “I want — what I’ve got to say, I think — the more people I tell it to, the more likely I’m going to believe it myself. And there’s nobody I respect more than you two, and because of what’s happened this morning, I just needed to know — to know that I was in my right mind. Because there’s been times this morning that I wondered if I had suddenly gone nuts.”
Still standing in the doorway, Arjie glanced over at Gary, who nodded then twitched his head backward, quickly, twice. The young man took a step forward — “But you should probably get the door.” Jane’s tone more an order rather than a recommendation. Arjie shrugged, turned back, closed the door behind him. Gary had moved to behind his desk, leaving the chair next to Jane open; Gary’s desk chair creaked wearily as he sat, leaned back, folded his hands behind his head, his calm voice commanding — “Why don’t you start, at the beginning.”
Jane Summers exhaled, her shoulders relaxing. Reached down, pulled her canvas backpack from the floor, placed it on her seat, opened a zipper. “Well, it began with — this thing.” She retrieved the device that had played Eine Kleine Nachtmusik that morning, held it up for Gary and Arjie to see.
“Ah, you found your phone!” Gary leaned forward over his desk, pleasure beaming from his face like a happy parent. “Was it in your — ” he stopped himself, seeing the pained look on Jane’s face.
“Figured it was a phone, based on all the evidence.” There was no pleasure, no warmth in her annoyed voice. “And that car you keep mentioning. I didn’t believe you at first, but then — ” she reached into the backpack again, pulled out a ring of keys — “this one, the one with the big rubber handle.” She held the key between her thumb and index finger, letting the other keys dangle on the chain beneath. “I recognize the logo, the V and the W — what did they call that company, Volt Wagon?”
Gary leaned back in his chair, the smile on his face evaporating like an ice cube on hot pavement. “Volkswagen.”
Jane pointed the key at him. “Yeah, that’s it. They stopped making cars I don’t know, twenty years ago when the market collapsed, are you telling me I own an antique?”
“Ah, Jane.” Arjie had remained standing, a condescending look on his face. “You bought that car new, last month. Remember, you and I went to the dealership?”
Jane Summers stared back at Arjie a long moment, silent and tense, all three people in Gary’s office aware that Jane’s response was critically important. She considered telling a safe, comfortable lie, before shaking her head.
“No. Sorry, I don’t remember going to any dealership with you.” She stood quickly, began pacing around the office. “I don’t remember buying a car, ever even owning a car — ” she stopped suddenly, threw her hands into the air — “all right, in all honesty, this morning I saw more cars on the road than I’ve ever seen in my life!”