Editor’s Note: This is the 25th installment of Sonia Pilcer’s novel THE LAST HOTEL. We have eight more chapters to go! Stay tuned. If you want to own the book — print or kindle edition — go to: https://amzn.to/1IW0sEA. Look for it every Friday. To read the 24th installment, with links to previous ones, click here.
Faye opened her door.
“You ready?” Pincus asked.
Faye locked her door, then took Pincus’ arm. They entered the elevator together.
As they walked past the Sofa Club, Pincus asked, “How’s everything?”
Lenny looked up from his Racing Form, unlit cigar in mouth. “Not bad. Where ya going?”
Faye smiled. “For a walk in the park.”
“Jeez,” Pete said to Lenny.
“What?” Lenny turned to Pete. “Ya know, it’s not the worst thing in the world.”
“You’re giving in too. Gonna let some woman ruin your life.”
“Find yourself some lady. You’re getting weird, Pete.” He picked up the Racing Form. “So what do you think the chances are for Gorgeous Ugly George?”
Faye winked at him as they stepped out the lobby door.
Pincus and Faye walked past the Dakota, peering inside the immense courtyard. A uniformed guard stood next to a metal shelter.
Crossing Central Park West, they made a striking older couple. Faye in tight black pants, a well-fitting sweater the color of her hair, and walking shoes. Pincus in a pair of new-looking blue jeans, probably his first, that Faye had bought him, of course, and his plaid jacket and muffler.
They entered the park at 72nd Street. Gittel was bent over, feeding bread crumbs to the pigeons. They surrounded her, noisily pecking the grass as she talked to them in Hungarian.
“Come, Faigeleh.” Pincus led her to an empty bench.
“So what’s the news with the hotel?”
“According to Lenny’s brother-in-law-yer,” Pincus said with a smile. “That’s a play on words.”
“We tenants don’t have a foot to stand on. We’re statutory tenants without leases.”
Faye sighed. “I wish we had some time.”
“I think we do,” Pincus said. “Saul is going to court to get a temporary restraining order.”
“But we’ll have to move out eventually,” she said sadly.
“We can get a huge place uptown with a view of the Hudson River,” he said.
“I always wanted to live in the Village. Go to the Lion’s Head bar and hang out with writers and journalists like Pete Hamill.” She’d done that a few times, looked at the author’s framed book jackets. “The Village reminds me of Paris. The little streets, small buildings, book shops, bakeries.”
“I like to be uptown, near Fort Tryon Park, the Cloisters, the old streets. The George Washington Bridge huge…”
“We’ll see,” Faye said.
“There’s something I have to tell you. I’ve wanted to tell you about it, but I’m very ashamed,” Pincus began, looking down.
“What could be so bad?” she asked.
“It’s bad. I didn’t want to tell you, but I can’t keep it from you any longer. I have a guilty conscience.” He looked away.
“Okay, Pink. Out with it.”
“You know your friend Rachel?”
“She came to my apartment when you were away.”
“Did she bring her lethal cholent?” Faye asked.
He nodded. “How did you know?”
“That Rachel never stops.”
“What do you mean?”
“She’s a nymphomaniac. What do you expect?”
“It was a good cholent.” Pincus laughed. “So you’re not angry?”
“Next time I see her, I’ll pour cyanide into her martini.” She smiled. “I’m not going to say anything. I’ve found you. You’re a diamond. She’s just catting around, hoping to get lucky again. She tested you. You’ve got character, unlike my ex, putzface.” She hugged him. “You can be trusted, Pincus.”
“Promise you’ll stay with me,” he said. “I don’t want to be by myself no more.”
“Is that why you want to be with me?”
“No, no. Faigeleh, just be my Faigeleh.”
“I’m sure I’ll never be anyone else’s Faigeleh.” She turned to him. “I have something to tell you too.”
“Okay.” Pincus said nervously.
“Do you believe in unnatural occurrences? Supernatural things like ghosts?”
“I believe that the world is full of spirits, visible and invisible.”
“I never told you about the ghost who visited me.” She laughed in embarrassment. “It was too weird to talk about.”
“Faigeleh, I tell you my bubbehmysis, you can tell me yours.”
“Remember when I came to your apartment with the brisket that first time?”
He nodded. “Of course.”
“That day as I was preparing it, something came through my fire escape. I know it sounds totally -– ”
“At first I thought it was a man in a hooded cape. But then I saw a ruby ring and realized it was a woman. She told me to add garlic to the brisket and suggested that you and I get together.”
“Yes. And this is the weirdest part of it. She told me she was Sylvie. That’s before I even knew your wife’s name.”
Pincus took a breath. “Sylvie had a ruby ring. I gave it to her when we were engaged.” He paused. “She was buried with it.”
Both sat silently for a few moments.
“I don’t believe in that kind of thing,” Faye said.
“I know…” His voice trailed off. “These things, they make you wonder.”
“Well, I should give thanks to her. She told me that there was more to you than meets the eye.”
He giggled boyishly. “I wonder if she’s happy now. She kept telling me I should find a woman. She was right, but I didn’t know it.”
“Afterwards, when I tried the window, it was painted shut.”
“People think they know everything, but there are still mysteries.”
“Yes.” Faye nodded. “And that night I lit Shabbes candles, something I don’t usually do.”
Pincus kissed her. “Shall we go to the Famous Dairy Restaurant for the Early Bird Special?”
“I love their stuffed cabbage.”
“I want a potato knish,” she said.
He laughed. “You know what knish means in Yiddish.”
“You always tell me.”
“A vagina,” he giggled. “I love your knish, Faigeleh.”