“How about him? He’s hot.”
“We’re not looking for a hot guy. We’re looking for an old homeless guy,” said Liza. She bounced up and down on the balls of her feet to generate some heat. It was unseasonably cold for late December. They said on the news that they might actually have a white Christmas this year.
Jake got up and stood next to her. “Uh huh, right. Remind me why we’re out here freezing, instead of cyber shopping in front of the TV.”
“Other than that it was your idea?” asked Liza.
“The homeless guy?”
“Right. The homeless guy, Michael, saved me from this guy I met online that turned out to be a nut. But he knew my name somehow.” Liza was getting a headache from the cold and the cigarettes. They were at Adams Square, standing by a smoker’s station outside one of the buildings across from the park.
“And, you’re planning on confronting him if you spot him?” asked Jake. He opened his coat and adjusted the shears that were dangling from his belt. It didn’t look so much like he was trying to secure them as make them look stylish. Liza grinned. They looked like hairdressing scissors, which would fit the stereotype. Jake was her next door neighbor, the one who fixed her leaky roof. The shears were roofing shears. He caught her expression and shot her his bitchy look.
On the night of her encounter with Michael and Brad, she went to check the back door one last time and interrupted him saying goodnight to his boyfriend. After Sam left, they sat talking for hours in Liza’s kitchen. Jake was a genuinely nice guy, but he was also a sarcastic ball-buster. He teased Liza about her door locking paranoia. She busted on him for being such a stereotypical gay guy, in such an atypical way. When they were in his garage getting ready to leave, he searched through his meticulously organized roofing tools for a good impromptu weapon. A hatchet would leave an unflattering lump under his coat and he didn’t want to get his new slate hammer dirty. He finally decided on an old pair of roofing shears. The garage was decorated with signed photographs of old-time movie actresses: Lauren Bacall, Greer Garson, Vivien Leigh.
Jake lived alone too and they became friends in the past couple of weeks. When Liza was unable to let this thing with Michael go, he suggested that they come down here and confront him. It was a good idea in theory, especially with her giant, shear wielding bodyguard, but she really didn’t know what she was going to say if they found him. Liza shrugged.
“I still think this has something to do with your man,” said Jake.
“He’s not my man. He was never my man. He’s never going to be my man.” Liza took a deep breath and pulled out another cigarette. Jake shook his head and swatted the air in front of him before she even had it lit. “Sorry,” said Liza. “Tell me again why you think this has something to do with Bruce? I haven’t seen him since the summer.”
“The summer, when you rescued him from a horde of homeless people? You think that’s a coincidence?” he asked. Jake buttoned his coat back up and ran a hand over his wavy blond hair. Liza wasn’t attracted to him, but she always had the urge to touch his hair. How did he get it like that? Did he use gel, or did it just fall into place that way after he washed it? Men were so lucky.
“Why not?” asked Liza.
“Come on. The bum in the witch hat who was watching you guys that time, him going to that homeless hangout, your buddy, Michael, helping you for no reason. I don’t know. It seems weird. I mean, we run into homeless people all the time living here, but they usually just beg for money. You said this guy didn’t even want to take anything.”
“I still don’t see what this has to do with Bruce,” said Liza. “Wanna walk around again? I’m getting cold.”
“Sure.” They made it halfway across the street when Liza spotted him. She froze, as if he were deer that couldn’t see her if she didn’t move. Jake took another step before realizing that she stopped. He turned and then followed her gaze back across the street. “You said he wasn’t hot.”
He was wearing khaki pants and a grey hoodie. She might not have noticed him if it hadn’t been for his distinctive walk. “He’s not. That’s not Michael.”