Missing Persons (March 2019, Week 3, Day 1)
MISSING: HAVE YOU SEEN RENEE “NE-NE” HIGGS
Remo looked at the poster tacked up on the board in the vestibule of the cafe. It was put on top of other posters, obscuring a notice for an avant guard theatrical experience and part of the phone number for an in-home piano teacher. Checking these boards was the closest Remo let himself get to his past, and he lingered over it every time he came across one.
“Where are you, Ne-Ne? And what made you leave?” No one answered Remo’s question – he was the only one there to hear it. He shook his head as he pulled himself away from the picture of a fresh-faced young woman and headed into the cafe to take his place in line.
When you don’t have a job to get in the way of your free time, you get to see the world differently. Spending time behind bars gives you a still different view. Remo’s eyes were always open. He was friendly enough to get what he wanted, and not so friendly as to take up too much space in anyone’s memories. Anonymity was his security blanket and he never left home without it.
Remo spotted Ne-Ne before noon. He told himself that he hadn’t been looking for her and that was mostly true. Her picture had been in his mind since seeing it on the board. When she appeared within six feet of him there was a moment where he wondered if he’d willed her to appear. It had always been easy before, so easy that he’d earned the nickname of Magnet back in the day. Remo kept his eye on her while pretending to be engrossed in his book. He didn’t want any trouble.
She didn’t look exactly like the picture anymore. They never do, especially the ones who run. The conservative, girl-next-door haircut had been replaced both in style and color. Where the sweet young thing in the picture had an air of preppiness about her even though you didn’t see anything beyond the collar of her shirt, this version of Ne-Ne was strapped into an outfit that would have made her mother – most mothers – cringe. Remo could see more than these superficial changes between the poster girl and the street-smart young woman before him. Ne-Ne was hungry, and not just for food, with an edge that comes from figuring out how to make choices based on need over want.
Remo kept his eyes on the pages of his book while he rolled his shoulders back. He knew how to make hard choices, too. As tempting as Ne-Ne was in this moment he had no interest in taking that many steps backwards. She would move along soon enough. He worked on shifting his imgaginary magnetism over to something that would repel her from him and then laughed out loud at his magical thinking.
It was the laugh that caught Ne-Ne’s attention. He felt her eyes on him as soon as it rolled out of him.