Tiny Viola ~ Chapters 31-40
Thirty-one ~ Aftermath
Viola landed and bounced on the thick carpet some feet away. She rolled and somersaulted backwards before landing in her resting place near the opposite door. She was dazed. She saw Espie slumped over and wanted to run to her but she knew how risky that would be with Pierre on the loose. She saw Pierre looking for her, and getting her wits about her quickly, ran and hid under the opposite hotel door from where Espie slumped in front of her own room.
"No fricking way," said Pierre.
He looked from side to side, unsure of what to do. He tried Espie's door. Locked. The key was inside.. except he had his own. He opened the door and pulled Espie inside. Already she was waking up, in a daze.
Pierre put Espie on the bed and picked up the items on the floor. He threw them all in the trash bin. Then he left.
Viola saw all this from under the door. She had snuck back in when Pierre slammed the door.
She stayed hidden under the door until his back was turned. Then she raced to the trash bin and stayed hidden beside it and the wall until Pierre finally left.
Espie was up on the bed. It'd be like scaling a building, but Viola had to try. Espie hadn't moved.
Viola ran to the bed and grabbed the underskirt. She climbed up it and then hung from the edge of the comforter, which luckily was quilted, which meant Viola could finagle her tiny fingers into the thread and get a grip. She ascended the side of the bed, one hand and one foot at a time. It was slow and arduous, but it was working. Finally she reached the top. She could see Espie stretched out, her hand at her face.
"Viola," moaned Espie softly.
Viola ran over to her head.
"I'm right here," said Viola. "Are you OK?"
Espie turned her head. "I'm OK. How are you?"
"I got the wind kicked out of me but not as bad as you," said Viola. "I think we should get out of here. Pierre has a key and he might come back."
"Oh no," said Espie. "He must've convinced his friend Diego to give him a key. Pierre and I used to be a couple. Diego works here in management."
"Are you OK," asked Viola again. "Can you get up and walk or will you feel dizzy?"
"I think I'm OK," said Espie.
She tried to get up.
"Little dizzy," she said. She steadied herself.
"You're right," she said. "Let me see if my friend Brigitte has an idea of where we can stay. She knows the city. In the mean time, let's get out of here."
She put on her sweater, packed her suitcase quickly, and plopped Viola into the side pocket of her purse.
Thirty-two ~ The Frenchies' Apartment
Lielle and Jean did not take well to the missing Viola. They saw millions of Euros vanishing from their clutches with her disappearance. They fired Remorse and hired a thug investigator, Saulo Clutchins, to find Viola. He promised that for the right price, he could find anyone.
He told them he'd start by hunting for Ramon. Ramon had been avoiding his usual haunts, all except one, because he did not consider it a regular part of his life. He had returned to Cafe Enchante just once, but unfortunately once was enough. Saulo Clutchins and his network of spies were on to him. They watched as he typed in a laptop for three hours, nursing a cold coffee, and watched as he ordered another latte which he took with him. They followed him out to a white van that he used to surveillance Lielle and Jean's apartment.
Ramon drove the white van to Auteuil and spent the rest of the day watching Jean and Lielle's apartment building, waiting for them to leave. At 6 o'clock, they left for dinner. Ramon took his chance. He entered the building and picked the lock to Jean and Lielle's apartment. Inside he went straight to the back bedroom, the white room that Viola had described earlier to him.
He hunted around in the dresser drawers and in the closet. He wasn't sure what he was looking for. He tried the desk drawer, working quickly and efficiently. He was just about to leave to check the master bedroom when he saw a cardboard box under the bed. It was the size of a half loaf of bread and marked from an address in Canada. He looked it over and then opened it with his pocket knife.
Inside was a lot of air peanuts. He dug them out. There was something else.. something that shocked him.
A two inch sized human being.
Thirty-three ~ A Famous Visitor
Brigitte and Espie had been friends for years. They had met in college when Espie was in a play. Brigitte did her makeup and costume changes. Now she was a professional makeup artist. She had been the one who had taught Espie how to disguise herself, many years ago.
It was late but she was home. She was confused to see Espie and concerned. It was not like her not to call, and Espie had started developing some bruises.
"What happened to your forehead?" Brigitte asked.
"It's a long story. But the good part is that the bad part is over," said Espie.
"Look, I know it's extremely short notice," continued Espie, "but I was wondering if you could point me to a hotel or a place where I could stay tonight. I would've called but I had to hurry, so I just got out and got a taxi over here. I didn't know where else to direct him to go."
"It's no problem. You can stay here tonight. It's a little cramped but you're welcome to stay as long as you need."
"Thank you, Brigitte," said Espie.
The apartment was considerably small, but Espie liked it. It felt comforting.
There was one room and a sofa bed. Espie insisted on taking the sofa bed. It was an adventure to her.
But Brigitte won out. "Your forehead. You need to be very comfortable tonight. Don't worry about it, I can take the sofa bed tonight."
So Espie got the bedroom and quickly changed into her pajamas. She needed sleep most of all.
Espie put Viola beside her at the other pillow, just in case the Lycomobin Synclopia Rye potion she had drunk so long ago actually began to work.
The two quickly fell asleep.
Thirty-four ~ Another Kind of Sleep
Ramon was in a deep sleep of his own. After finding the second little person in the box, he checked the room for more boxes, but there was only that one.
He grabbed the little person and put him in his coat pocket. He made it into the kitchen. He didn't even see the club that struck him on the back of his head.
Paris slept under a brilliant, sparkly sky.
The next morning Brigitte was up early to go to work. She was working on a film shoot in Paris for a new hot shot director, Madchen Richards. She left cereal and fruit on the table for Espie.
Viola and Espie slept late.
Viola woke first. She knew before she opened her eyes. Everything would be all right. Her eyes opened and everything was clear. She stretched out her hand and could reach Espie. She touched her shoulder and caressed it, lightly tracing Espie's arm from shoulder to wrist and then she stopped to lift her own arm and to study her own hand.
Espie slowly turned over. She looked at Viola, beautiful and naked under the sheets, regular size, and studying her own hand intently.
Espie reached out and touched Viola's hand. She pulled it toward her and kissed it. Then she pulled Viola to her. The two held on to each other. They slowly kissed, gentle and trusting. They melted into each other and made love.
Viola had never, never, not once in her life, been happier. Espie could say the same.
Thirty-six ~ An Interrogation
Ramon woke and found himself in an empty cement cell of a room. There was a mirror on both sides, like something out of a movie. Saulo was in front of him like a mean cat, circling and hungry for a fight.
"Where is she?" demanded Saulo. "Where's Viola?"
Ramon didn't speak for a full minute.
"Viola!" barked Saulo.
"She's back to her regular size and living her regular life by now. It's all over. I'm on to all of you."
Saulo looked surprised but he quickly hid it.
"What do you mean?"
"I know what you've been doing to people, and believe me, you're not going to be successful with it, so you might as well quit right now."
"What I'm doing is trying to find the girl you kidnapped," said Saulo.
"I didn't kidnap her. Lielle and Jean did, or someone connected to them. I took her from the cage she was trapped in and found her a cure for her problem," hissed Ramon. "What did you do but club me in the back of my head. You must be part of this."
"I'm sorry about that. I thought you were a danger."
"I'm not a danger, I was just trying to find out what was going on."
"What is going on?" asked Saulo.
"What's your part in all of this?" asked Ramon back.
"My part is to figure out your part," said Saulo.
"MY part is to find out who's shrinking people and putting them in boxes and sending them to a French couple in Paris. That's my part," said Ramon. "Now, can you untie me?"
Saulo thought for a minute. He untied Ramon.
"Let's work together on this," he said to Ramon. "There's more going on than I thought. I only had a little picture of a girl running in a mouse wheel to go by, and your lead. Tell me everything you know and I'll share everything I know."
Ramon looked at Saulo. He wasn't sure if he could trust him. But he could try to pump more info out of him.
"What's your name, man?"
Ramon filled Saulo in on some missing details; like that Viola had been living a normal life and had drunk a potion and then found herself in Lielle and Jean's apartment. He told Saulo how he had found Viola and how he determined this was a girl who needed help, how she was trapped and unhappy. He told how he and Viola had planned Viola's escape and how he took her and they went out of France to a safe location ~ Ramon left out important details like the name of the city and meeting Espie. He told Saulo how he had a friend who could concoct anything out of the elements and how this friend had eventually created a potion that could fix Viola.
"I left her somewhere safe and in touch with the potion. That's how I know she's back to her regular size and doing all right now," finished Ramon. "Now tell me who you really are, who you work for, and what are you doing tying me up."
Thirty-seven ~ Espie and Viola Look for Ramon
Espie and Viola ate breakfast together. They couldn't take their eyes off each other. The world was bright and beautiful.
"Let's go thank Bonofacio," said Viola.
"Great idea," said Espie. "and we should find Ramon and see if he's found out anything."
They tried his phone but it rang and then went to machine. Viola left a happy message and then they got dressed. They decided to rent a car for the long ride to Bonofacio's lab in Bordeaux.
Thirty-eight ~ Saulo's Story
Saulo nodded his head.
"I see," he said.
"My name is Saulo Clutchins. I'm a private dick. Recently I was recruited by the FBI in America to investigate Ray and Sonia Miller, also known as Lielle and Jean Abadie. They had some kind of involvement with a scheme involving conning old ladies out of their retirements, but managed to skirt the law successfully for a while and have been missing and wanted in the US for a few years. Then this picture of a mouse-sized woman showed up. The FBI had only thing to go on ~ her name was Viola and she used to be a teacher. They also knew she disappeared without a word from San Francisco. With more investigation and by befriending the couple in a miniature circus scheme, they nailed down the motive. Here's what the FBI believes happened."
"Lielle and Jean have a man who stays at their apartment. This man is like a ghost, very hard to track down. At first they didn't even have a name for him, so they've called him Professional Ghost, or PG for short. PG, it turns out, is really a former chemistry professor named Stockton Lars. Lars not only likes to stay hidden, he likes to make potions and he likes to test them on unsuspecting people without their knowledge. Why? Because his potions can shrink people to within two inches of their life! That's why."
"Now, I'm sorry for you're getting hit on the head back there," said Saulo, "but you've got to understand, Lars is very dangerous and no one knows exactly what Lars looks like because he's very good with disguises. He's so secretive because of what he does. So far no less than 10 people have disappeared because of PG. Viola was number 9. The little one in your pocket was number 10, thanks for finding him by the way. His name is Sam Mensch. Just an ordinary 35 year old pizza delivery worker. Happened to find a cute little potion bottle and drank it without thinking. PG saw and was there to snatch the little body in his 3 day sleep, an after-effect of drinking the shrinking potion."
"We thought you were Lars and when you went to the kitchen and headed toward the knives the team had to move fast. Also, I knew you had Sam on you, I was watching from the hallway."
"Where is Sam?" asked Ramon.
"Don't worry about Sam," said Saulo. "He's safely ensconced with the FBI. Soon he'll be on his way home. Sadly he must learn to live life one twenty-four-hundredth the man he used to be."
"Not if he doesn't want to," said Ramon.
"You mean suicide?"
"No, I mean Lycomobin Synclopia Rye potion, created by Dr. Bonofacio Sacchi. Do you know him?" asked Ramon.
"Can't say I've had the pleasure," said Saulo.
"Well before you and your FBI friends start investigating him, let me just tell you that LSR is the only element that can enlarge living organisms beyond their natural growth mechanisms. Dr. Sacchi isolated LSR and used Viola's blood to grow it in his lab. I'm sure by now Viola is her regular size."
"I've never heard of LSR," said Saulo. "But then, three months ago, I had never heard of potions that shrink people either."
"If you want to help Sam you should give me his blood sample and I'll send it to Bonofacio and request he make a batch of LSR for Sam to ingest," said Ramon. "The problem is he has to ingest it just after it's made, so he'll need to be there right in Bonofacio's lab."
"Where's the lab?" asked Saulo.
"Like I'm going to tell you. The first thing you did was bang me over the head."
"We can find it, you know, now that we know his name is Dr. Bonofacio Sacchi," said Saulo.
"Or you can just trust me to help Sam just like I trusted you by telling you Sacchi's name."
The two men looked at each other for a long moment.
"So you were following me because you thought I could be PG?" asked Ramon. "Is there anything you're not telling me?"
"I didn't know if you were him or not but the probability was higher than not that you could be him. I was hired by the FBI to learn more about PG, and I was hired by the Abadies to find you and return Viola to them, which gave me the perfect cover," said Saulo.
"Saulo, you're going to have to explain to me where your loyalties lie and why I should trust you."
Saulo nodded. He went to the corner of the room to a closed door. He took a key out and unlocked it.
"Come out here and see for yourself," said Saulo.
Ramon looked out the doorway. He could see nothing but darkness. But what choice did he have?
Ramon walked out the door.
Thirty-nine ~ A Country Road
Guided by GPS, Espie took country roads toward Bordeaux. The landscape was lovely. The long, slower drive gave time for the two women to talk.
"When I woke up this morning and saw you there, I couldn't help myself," said Espie shyly.
"It was magical," said Viola. "You are magical."
The two drove in a comfortable silence. They were coming to a cute little village. There were cottages and narrow, cobbled streets, along with little shops on either side.
"Why don't we stop for lunch?" said Espie.
"How about Le Soleil," said Viola, pointing at a cafe restaurant that was just waking up to the lunch crowd.
"Perfect," said Espie.
A half hour later they sat across from each other at the cafe.
"I fell for you a day ago," confessed Viola quietly.
Espie smiled. "Only a day?"
"It took me some time to acknowledge my feelings," said Viola.
"I want to apologize," said Espie.
"For starting our affair so quickly. This may be hard for you to believe, but I usually get to know a woman before the first kiss," said Espie.
"Then you are a lesbian?" asked Viola.
"Yes," said Espie. "There was Pierre, but when I realized I didn't have deeper feelings for him, I had to cut it off. I realized it was just an empty passion, just trying to get over my last love. He thought my problem was depression, and for a while, before I acknowledged to myself what I felt deep inside, I thought it was too."
"So there have been other women?" asked Viola.
"Yes. Mostly women, but you know, because of my profession.." Espie's voice trailed off.
"I thought I was doomed to hopelessness," said Viola, "when the potion didn't work right away."
"I would've made sure your life was comfortable," said Espie. "A doll house, and a little bureau with clothes all your size, and--"
"No," laughed Viola. "I mean you. I thought I'd never be able to hold you."
Espie laughed and reached over. She caressed Viola's hand.
"You, my dear, may hold me whenever you'd like."
Forty ~ Meeting
Ramon followed Saulo down a dim hallway. They came to a door on the right and Saulo knocked on it.
A short, serious looking man answered. He was wearing an FBI jacket.
"We heard everything," said the man. "Come on in and meet us, Ramon."
"How do you know my name?" asked Ramon.
"Your driver's license was in your wallet. Besides, we've been watching you."
Ramon and Saulo entered the room, which looked like an office with some furniture and a table with a wooden border around it as the main centerpiece. There was a glass window that looked into the room that Ramon had just been in ~ obviously the see-through mirrors he had seen in the other room.
There were two other men and a young woman seated around the odd table. They all introduced themselves.
"Jeremy Walker," said the first man, the short one who had gotten the door. He shook Ramon's hand politely and then pulled out his badge. "Investigator with the FBI."
"Matthew Parker," said the chubby one, who also came over to shake Ramon's hand. "Actor. I helped track down some of the other smaller people by trickery and deceit." He smiled broadly.
"Geoffrey Relph," said the remaining man. He was handsome and middle-aged. He gave a wave.
"I helped coordinate the sting on you. Sorry about that bump on your head. You have to understand we thought you were PG. We thought maybe Raymond and Sonia had a falling out with Lars."
"Raymond and Sonia?" asked Ramon. "Oh right -- Lielle and Jean."
"Audrey Turnover," said the woman, offering her hand. "I'm the one who hit you."
Ramon raised an eyebrow but offered his hand.
"I am a tracking specialist," she said. "I find people."
"What's this?" asked Ramon, indicating the table.
"Come see for yourself," said Geoffrey, who was the closest to the table.