On waking next morning, I decide I shan’t yet tell Alaia I know about her subterfuge but shall see how the situation plays out. We meet mid-morning when she knocks and comes into my room. She plays it “natural” and I play along, but I’m not feeling it. We call Rik’s and Evelyn’s home number, to see if we need to do anything more for tonight’s Big Bang broadcast. “Rik’s gone out, but why not come round and we’ll call him and ask,” says Evelyn. “I’m just getting into the shower but I’ll leave the front door open, so just come on in and make yourselves at home and make us an instant coffee and I’ll be out in a few minutes.” So Alaia and I go round to their place and make three mugs of coffee and lounge on the sofa in the sitting room, with the splash of the shower coming from behind the bathroom door. The landline rings. “See who that is,” calls Evelyn.
“OK,” calls Alaia and picks up the phone. “Hallo, this is Evelyn’s apartment… Lucan!” she says in a lowered voice, glancing at the bathroom door. “This is Alaia, I’m just visiting Evelyn, she’s in the shower right now; can I take a mess— You wanted me? You don’t have my number…” She listens, casting anxious looks at me. “You’ve seen it? Yes, I didn’t get a chance to ask you last night. Thanks for the party, by the way… Yes… Good, you’ll make it up to…” She smiles and looks down, embarrassed. Next moment her smile is gone, however, and I monitor my own reactions carefully while I am treated to the sight of her putting on a plausible act for two different audiences—me and Lucan, only one of whom she believes to have knowledge that all four targets were on the DVD, but both of whom she believes to have no knowledge of her deliberation in delivering that wrong DVD. And she does a damn good job of this delicate task, serving up a sequence of three well-judged effects: first, more for Lucan’s benefit, comes a brief pretence of disbelief that any other footage than Angel’s is on the DVD; then secondly, more for my benefit, comes the pretence of reluctant but growing belief that what he says must be true, as he doubtless informs her of some detail from one of the other three targets that he couldn’t have known without seeing a disc containing it; then thirdly, for both of us, she dishes up the requisite embarrassment at having made such a foolish and indiscreet error. Yes, she admits, the wrong disc must have been sent—oh dear. I feel like clapping, but must instead begin my own feint, in the form of raised eyebrows, worried glances, disappointment, head-shakings and half-forgiving looks. She sits listening awhile, as Lucan says something I can’t guess. “Very civic-minded of you, I’m sure,” she says dryly. “OK Lucan, I’ll relay the message,” and she hangs up.
Evelyn enters from the bathroom, dressed, with damp hair. “Did you just say ‘Lucan’?” she asks. “What did he want—what ‘message’?”
“Oh … he called to say the footage is ‘really hot’, he sees now that Angel wasn’t gossiping to me, and he’ll make it up to Angel, probably with some ‘extra-hot loving’.”
“Jesus, any more of that and Angel will expire from it,” says Evelyn. “Not that we should underestimate him: I’ve always said that if he were a computer peripheral, he’d be hot-pluggable. But anyway, I’m happy the DVD worked—you’re a genius, girl!” She picks up the phone. “Now let’s call Rik.”
“Yeah, well handled,” I tell Alaia. “Sounds like it was easier than we expected.”
She gives a small smile.
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